Scin­til­lat­ing saloon

Warwickshire Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - By Peter Keenan

IF you are ever plan­ning a stealthy exit from some shady ren­dezvous, don’t bring along the Audi RS 3 Saloon. Be­cause fir­ing up this quat­tro un­leashes a fe­ro­cious growl from rau­cous oval ex­hausts that at­tract im­me­di­ate at­ten­tion leav­ing no one in any doubt as to the in­ten­tions of a mo­tor of­fer­ing su­per­car per­for­mance lev­els at a frac­tion of the cost.

Not that I’m say­ing the £45,675 price-tag for the RS 3 is cheap, but for a car that can reach 62mph from a stand­ing start in a shade over four sec­onds, on its way to an elec­tron­i­cally lim­ited top speed of 155mph, it is value for money. In­deed pay to have the lim­iter re­moved and you’ll hit 174mph.

And I have not even got to the two most sur­pris­ing facts about Audi Sport’s scin­til­lat­ing saloon.

Firstly, it re­ally does achieve on or about the av­er­age claimed fuel econ­omy fig­ure of 34mpg – al­le­vi­at­ing my ini­tial con­cern that I would spend most of my time at a petrol sta­tion fill­ing it up.

And sec­ondly, de­spite the red-hot pace, you can drive around town with the min­i­mum of fuss and use it as a fam­ily run­about with­out a hint of com­plaint.

Not that you will go un­no­ticed though, thanks to the marvel­lous sound­track from the 2.5-litre, 400ps, five-cylin­der petrol en­gine, eye­catch­ing paint jobs and natty body­work.

Go to the drive se­lect but­ton and put the car in Dy­namic mode and you’re guar­an­teed to bring a smile to the kids’ faces as it in­duces fire­work­like bangs from the ex­haust which her­ald the trans­mis­sion chang­ing down a gear.

How­ever, not all the at­ten­tion is wel­come as there are plenty of id­iots try­ing to re­peat their favourite scene from the Fast and Fu­ri­ous film fran­chise as soon as you stop at traf­fic lights.

The RS 3 is gorgeous to look at with edgy body styling, a grille fea­tur­ing a gloss black hon­ey­comb mesh with big air in­takes ei­ther side, in-your-face 19-inch al­loy wheels, nifty LED lights and a low­ered sports sus­pen­sion.

It is even bet­ter to drive as the as­ton­ish­ing tur­bocharged power unit is linked to nu­mer­ous sys­tems al­low­ing you to con­trol the beast.

The star turn on that front is the four-wheel drive quat­tro sys­tem which gives a ton of grip and, more im­por­tantly, con­fi­dence when mak­ing the most of an im­pres­sive power-to-weight ra­tio.

Other natty elec­tron­ics in­clude a launch con­trol func­tion that is very For­mula One al­low­ing you to ex­pe­ri­ence breath­tak­ing ac­cel­er­a­tion. The seven-speed DSG gear­box is a de­light with light­ning quick shifts that are never short of seam­less. Pad­dles are also pro­vided be­hind the leather and Al­can­tara-cov­ered flat-bot­tomed steer­ing wheel for man­ual con­trol.

You would think that a sports set-up would put your fill­ings at risk over rougher sur­faces, but the four-door saloon does a re­mark­able job of smooth­ing out all but the most potty pot­holes. On long jour­neys it is rea­son­ably civilised thanks to dual-zone cli­mate con­trol and sup­port­ive leather-up­hol­stered seats – the won­der­ful en­gine noise un­der hard ac­cel­er­a­tion the only thing to breach the car’s sound-proof­ing defences.

The han­dling would shame a jet fighter as sharp re­flexes are ac­cessed through the pin­point ac­cu­rate steer­ing while body con­trol is sub­lime.

The cabin com­fort­ably cos­sets four adults while the boot is a prac­ti­cal shape and size for their lug­gage. The in­te­rior is well de­signed with nice touches in­clud­ing brushed metal ped­als and RS 3 badg­ing.

The lat­est mod cons are on show in­clud­ing a de­cent sat nav sys­tem viewed on a 5.8-inch colour screen, dig­i­tal ra­dio, smart­phone con­nec­tiv­ity and an in­stru­ment clus­ter fea­tur­ing a dig­i­tal boost in­di­ca­tor for the turbo.

So, if you want per­for­mance that is in all hon­esty in­sane within a smart pack­age that of­fers real-world prac­ti­cal­ity then the RS 3 Saloon is def­i­nitely a con­tender.

TEST DRIVE AUDI RS 3 SALOON

Model: Audi RS 3 Saloon Price: £45,675 Me­chan­i­cal: 400ps, 2480cc, 5cyl petrol en­gine driv­ing all wheels via 7-speed au­to­matic gear­box Max speed: 155mph 0-62mph: 4.1 sec­onds Com­bined mpg: 34 In­sur­ance group: 40 CO2 emis­sions: 188g/km BiK rat­ing: 37% War­ranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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