Audi RS3 Saloon

An intense period of big miles gives deputy editor Towler a new perspectiv­e on our Audi

- Adam Towler (@Adamtowler)

NEARLY 2000 MILES IN A WEEK. IT’S A LOT to cover in one car and, unsurprisi­ngly, it’s generated many thoughts. Having swapped ‘my’ Cupra Leon wagon for the Audi with Jethro, it was off to Spa first for the RSR trackday you may have read about in evo 299. (Ironically, the car had just returned from Spa the previous weekend with Jethro.) Our laps there were compromise­d by the Pirelli Trofeo R tyres we had ordered for the RS3 not turning up in time, so the Bridgeston­es stayed on, and by the end of the lapping they were well past their best.

Onwards we went, though, back to the UK, then a long motorway slog over to Anglesey for the same issue’s cover story. Any thoughts of doing lap times there in the RS3 were curtailed by the Trofeo Rs still languishin­g in Germany. Annoying.

Having taken the scenic route back from north Wales, it was over to Bedford Autodrome for an evo trackday, but not before a quick pit stop at the Audi press garage for a set of new Pirelli P Zeros, a top-up of a litre of oil and two new wheel rims (two of the originals having been buckled on their inner edges by pothole strikes – a common problem I’m told). Phew.

As is often – although not always – the case, my feelings towards this ludicrousl­y expensive Audi (£69k with options!) have warmed up considerab­ly with near-continuous exposure to its talents and idiosyncra­sies. Firstly, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that, more than ever, this car is about the engine. The rumbustiou­s, bassy, boosty five-cylinder motor is more unusual and appealing than ever in this period of EV transition, and while it feels a little held back at times, perhaps a victim of ever-tightening emissions-friendly mapping, when wrung out its ultimate power (394bhp) is not in question. Its omnipresen­t rumble is a comforting asset on long journeys, reaffirmin­g that cars with character are enjoyable even when you’re not going flat out.

The gearbox is pretty hopeless though, so unless I’m at a constant speed on the motorway it’s manual all the time, even though this means using those cursedly small paddles. Actually, a pair of proper-sized paddles would be a bonus – it would be another great USP. The carbon-ceramic brakes, meanwhile, are fabulous, and really hold up on track. They now whine like a Group A rally car coming to a halt at service, though.

The wide track and wide front rubber coupled with the torque-splitting rear diff really make for a car that can turn in and hold its line – it’ll even power oversteer on a track if you want. It never feels inert, the ride is well judged, and there’s little-to-no torque steer even if the steering isn’t the last word in feedback and accuracy. On the downside, the rear diff makes the overall balance of the car difficult to read sometimes, and on track the suspension could be firmer still. Yes, really.

Perhaps most of all, I wish the RS3 didn’t come with the big-monthly-payment boy-racer vibes… that there was much less of the black plastic frown, window tints and black wheels, and that instead it had the motorsport ethos of a GR Yaris. I just don’t think I could bring myself to buy one – or if I did, I’d want motorsport-type wheels, no tints and better seats. It’s a shame: underneath the tinsel there’s a really decent and practical car here trying to get out.

Date acquired December 2021 Total mileage 15,068 Mileage this month 3211 Costs this month £12 (oil), £832 (tyres), c£1300 (wheels) mpg this month 27.1

‘My feelings towards the RS3 have warmed up considerab­ly‘

 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom