Author Type: Registered Journalist | Author: Julian Lurie edited by Gary Mackay | Source: AutoWorld.co.za
After spending an enjoyable few days with the new Audi RS3 5-door Sportback 2.5T FSI quattro S-Tronic, I can honestly say that if you’re in the market for a “hot hatch” with brute power, the RS3 must surely be on your shopping list. It delivers tremendous performance wrapped up in a practical five-door hatchback package, in a car designed for everyday use.
Now in its second generation, the Audi RS 3 Sportback combines a sonorous 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder engine with quattro four-wheel drive, offering supercar acceleration in a practical five-door hatchback body.
The differentiation from standard is marked by its single frame high-gloss black, honeycomb-look grille and a frame in matt aluminum look. The large air inlets framed by bold contours provide air to the engine’s supplemental radiator and the transmission oil cooler. The blade integrated into the front apron extends upward into the air inlets to form a vertical dividing bar. Other features are LED headlights, flared wheel arches which were filled with 5-arm alloy wheels wrapped in very low profile 235/35ZR19 high speed rated Michelin rubber on the press vehicle.
Viewed in profile, the widened front fenders, chiseled side sills, matt aluminum-look mirror housings and the large roof spoiler immediately catch the eye. A pronounced bumper, high-gloss black diffuser insert with honeycomb grille and four bars plus two large, oval tailpipes make for a bold rear end while RS 3 badges adorn the single-frame grille and rear hatch.
The interior of the new Audi RS 3 Sportback press vehicle was in sporty black and accentuated with RS badges. The sport seats are covered in fine Nappa leather with contrasting stitching in rock grey. Wrapped in leather and Alcantara, the RS multifunction sport steering wheel is flattened at the bottom, and the selector lever also features a particularly sporty design. The instruments look pretty stock, until you investigate them closely enough to see the boost gauge inset into the rev counter and find the lap timer incorporated into the drive computer.
The pedals and footrest are stainless steel; the door trim inserts are Alcantara, the dials in the RS instrument cluster are black, the needles are red and the scales white. High-quality applications in gloss anthracite black, frame the instruments.
At the rear the pronounced bumper, high-gloss black diffuser insert with honeycomb grille and four bars plus two large oval tailpipes make for a bold rear while a RS 3 badge adorns the rear hatch.
Standard equipment in the Audi RS3 Sportback includes the sports suspension, Xenon plus headlights, Audi drive select, Audi music interface, Audi sound system, Bluetooth interface with audio streaming, Parking System Plus, Nappa leather upholstery, front sport seats with RS embossing, light/rain sensor, aluminium look interior enhancements, front centre armrest, RS3 Leather- trimmed, 3-spoke flat bottom multi-function steering wheel with shift paddles, Cruise control system, Digital air conditioning, LED interior lighting, front and rear parking sensors and the stop/start system, which fortunately can be switched off .
Optional items fitted to the press vehicle included the MMI Navigation system, Audi’s magnetic ride, Led headlights, sports exhaust system, panoramic sun-roof, S Sports seat up front, rear view camera, and brake calipers painted in red.
The Audi RS3 is sold given as a full five-seater, but whereas room up front is more than generous, and the S Sports seats well shaped and comfortable, the rear is far more comfortable for two passengers than three, because shoulder-room is otherwise severely limited. However, as the RS3 gains an extra 35mm of wheelbase over the three door A3, wheelbase to provide more legroom so even six- footers will be comfortable back there.
Additionally, the long wheelbase boosts boot space to 380 litres, or with the rear seats folded down, the usable loading area increases to 1 220 litres.
In the safety department the Audi RS3 scored a full five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash tests, with a whole raft of safety systems to help prevent accidents and includes seven airbags, adaptive cruise control, vented disc brakes up front and solid discs at the rear, with ABS and EBD and the RS3.
The five-cylinder engine in the Audi RS3 produces a hefty 270 kW from a displacement of 2 480 cc with peak torque of 465 Nm is already available at 1 625 rpm and remains constant right through to 5 550 rpm.
The standard seven-speed S tronic automatic transmission transfers the power of the 2.5 TFSI via three shafts – one drive shaft and two output shafts. The driver can choose between two automatic modes for the seven-speed S tronic or shift manually using the shift paddles on the steering wheel or the selector lever, while the quattro permanent all-wheel drive system transfers the power of the 2.5 TFSI to the road with supreme ease, distributing the available torque as needed to the front and rear axles in the blink of an eye.
From a standing start the new Audi RS 3 Sportback blasts its way to 100 km/h in 4.3 seconds, said to be the best in its class, and top speed is electronically capped at 250 km/h, but can be optionally raised to 280 km/h.
Claimed fuel consumption for the combined cycle is given as 6.3 litres per 100 kilometres, however over the period I had the press vehicle, the trip recorder showed I had averaged 10.9 litres per 100km.
Driving the new Audi RS 3 Sportback 2.5 TFSi with its immense pulling power and eager revving engine, is an extremely satisfying experience. Two flaps in the exhaust control the exhaust flow to provide for an even more intensive sound experience and the driver can control these flaps via the Audi drive select system.
Driving on the freeway the RS3 runs completely relaxed at the 120 km/h limit, but when pushed the performance is remarkable. When extra power is needed for overtaking, a push on the accelerator pedal lights up the engine for a quick passing maneuver. Another nice feature is the rev matcher that comes in when using the paddles to slow down from high speed in Sport mode, for a smooth change.
The suspension is on the firm side, but not uncomfortably so, however on secondary roads, there is an element of distant thumping as the suspension goes about its business. On twisty roads, the level of grip is outstanding. Also the torque vectoring makes the handling of the Audi RS 3 Sportback even more seamless. Heading into a tight corner, the Quattro four-wheel drive really comes in to its own, as it clings to the road as it stays flat through the apex, and never feels like losing grip.
Yet with all its performance, the Audi RS3 can be driven every day around town as an ordinary family hatchback.
The recommended retail selling price for the new Audi RS3 Sportback 2.5T FSI quattro S tronic is R775 500(priced at June 2016), but the press vehicle has R113 769 of options fitted, so the price as tested was R889 269 which includes the standard 5 year/100 000 km Audi Freeway Plan.