The compact sedan segment was once thought of to be full of humdrum vehicles with the sole purpose of making your life duller than it already was. Economy was a big factor in keeping them in the market, but it didn’t use to be much of a brag telling a girl at the bar you drove one. Not until recently.
Known for its diesel Le Mans cars and making the all-wheel drive cool again, the four-ring German automaker has outdone themselves with their latest re-iteration of the Audi RS3. It’s a pint-sized powerhouse that produces 400hp, which is a hell lot of power in relative to its built. Audis were previously known to be straight-line champions but now corners are dealt with very easily too. With sensors and technology on hand, this little demon decides which of the four wheels gets the power, and then you’re taking over sharp turns and taking off at traffic lights — with that girl at the bar. Despite all this, you’re still very much in control.
The Audi RS3 is also a beautifully made car. It’s firm but not unbearably bumpy, so you have a feel for the road but not every piece of unhinged asphalt you go over. Because it’s a civilised racer, there are a number of modes that will cater to your every whim — you’re not resigned to tiresome grand prix-esque trips to the supermarket, unlike many other sports cars.
With so much hype around it, we couldn’t resist taking the baby RS out for a spin. Here are eight of our favourite things about the car.
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The Audi RS3 features the same incredible 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine that’s in the Audi TT RS, which we all know is a wicked sports coupe. With an aluminium block and turbocharged heart, this powertrain produces an astonishing 400hp and 480Nm of torque, enough to propel it to a top speed of 280kph.
It accelerates from 0-100kph in a mere 4.1 seconds. That’s faster than its nearest competitor, the BMW M2, and more than enough to have you in speeding ticket territory.
Pretend for a second that you’re a Formula One driver back in the day when launch control was still allowed, then hold the brake with one foot and floor the gas. Revs will hit 3,500 before she shoves you into the back of your seat with her immense tractive power. It’s a neat party trick to impress your passengers again and again.
The large oval tailpipes are the distinguishing feature of any RS car, yet it’s the machine gun noises that comes out of them that gives you the kicks you so deserve when you purchase one. The blips, burbles, and roars will mean your neighbours will probably hate you, but you’ll know they’re really just jealous.
Audi’s proprietary quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system will keep you between the lines regardless of weather conditions. Add to that an abundance of feel and dynamic driver modes and you have inarguably one of the finest handling Audi’s ever produced.
A car this ready to show off needs equally sporty interiors to match. The aggressive-looking sport bucket seats might look intimidating, but do a good job in bolstering you in, regardless of whether you’re attempting high-G manoeuvres or just cruising down the highway. You get little reminders to remind you that this is an RS car. The flat-bottomed steering wheel is Alcantara-swathed and — in the spirit of luxury — operates the infotainment system with a number of buttons. On the track, you’ll get access to essential information such as tire pressure, torque and g-forces too via the wheel too.
You can’t have a racing steering wheel without paddle shifters. Sure, there’s the seven-speed S-Tronic dual-clutch transmission that will operate automatically, but why would you when you can take control by changing gears yourself. The clicks and surge of power that follows are one of the most satisfying things about owning a car with such a racing pedigree.
Like any respectable sedan, the RS3 has a generous rear. What’s lost in the rear seats — they’re strictly for petite people — is more than made up for in the boot. There’s plenty of room for shopping bags and even luggage, so this car makes a great companion regardless of short holidays or grocery runs.