Audi RS3 Saloon

They’re mostly mighty, but our RS’S ceramics have an unsettling quirk

- Jethro Bovingdon (@Jethrobovi­ngdon)

THERE’S SOMETHING ABSURD about an Audi A3 fitted with carbon-ceramic brakes, but I love the geekiness of it. They’re part of the RS Dynamic Pack, a £5500 option that also adds RS Adaptive Suspension with Audi Drive Select (including the additional RS Individual, RS Performanc­e and RS Torque Rear modes) and the RS sports exhaust system. In case you hadn’t realised, the RS3 is an RS and all options must be prefixed with RS. Oh, it also includes a top speed increase to RS 180mph.

I am generally a huge fan of ceramics, not just for their durability but also because the huge savings in unsprung and rotational mass really do enhance steering feel, ride quality and roll-on accelerati­on. However, I would love to try an RS3 on standard discs just to see if that holds true here. I’ve only ever done a back-to-back ceramics versus iron test with a 981-generation Porsche Cayman – a subtle, deeply sensitive and brilliantl­y communicat­ive car, so the ceramics made a stark and tangible difference. Would it be so noticeable on the slightly more brutal RS3? Perhaps not.

The reason I’ve been thinking about this issue is that I’ve had a couple of little scares with the ceramics. Each time the pattern has been the same: a long period of motorway driving in wet conditions with no braking input required, followed by a fairly significan­t decelerati­on needed quickly. Each time the result has been just enough to induce mild panic. The brake pedal feels fine but there’s very little retardatio­n for a couple of heartbeats. Almost none, in fact. It’s momentary and once they recover I’ve always had loads of time to stop. I suspect the lag is tiny if measured on a stopwatch. But it’s just enough to undermine confidence.

Over years driving 911s and Caymans fitted with ceramics, not to mention Aston Martins and Ferraris, this has never happened to me. So it’s a curious thing to experience and deeply odd that it should happen in a more ‘convention­al’ car, where owners are probably less likely to think about things like brake temperatur­e. Of course, once there’s just a little heat in the RS ceramic brake system they’re massively powerful and completely confidence-inspiring. Maybe that contrast is what makes the wet-weather hiccups seem all the more of an Rs-clencher.

Date acquired December 2021 Total mileage 9857 Mileage this month 1200 Costs this month £16 (1 litre of oil) mpg this month 30.4

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