RS3 Sportback – DRIVEN

Posted: July 6, 2015 by The Car Spy in General

Snap, Crackle, Pop.

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80’s kids will remember the trio of ‘Rice Krispies’ mascots and their relevant monikers…some 80’s kids (Well not many actually) will also remember the original Audi Quattro that blitzed the international WRC Rally stages and genuinely elevated Audi into the UK and European mainstream of household names…The spiritual ancestor for this car – The road going Audi Quattro ‘Coupe’ was of course recently serialised in the ‘Ashes to Ashes’ BBC 80’s cop drama.

On the way back from collecting a brand new Bentley GT Speed from leafy Surrey, James Scanlon at Tunbridge Wells Audi invited me to drop in and take the new RS for a spin. He said I could drive it as hard and as fast as I wanted and the only rule was if I crashed it – I bought it… (Only kidding James!) But of course, I duly obliged.

This new RS3, powered by a 2.5 litre 380 BHP Turbocharged 5 Cylinder (Half the Lamborghini V10 I’m told by James – he could be right there) sounds absolutely raucous. It almost at times has the same engine note, just a slightly muffled version as the Lambo block – the Gallardo V10 was one of our favourite cars to sell at TCS towers during the mid to late 00’s…

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So what’s so special about this then and why should you buy one?

– It’s not chintzy like a Mercedes A45 AMG so you wont look like P-Diddy on a pay cut. Audi genuinely are the masters at understatement. Nobody – (but you and a few keen-eyed enthusiasts) will have a clue what the car is, and more importantly what it’s capable of). The only clues are – Wheels, Arches, Exhausts and maybe the subtle rear roof spoiler (take note Mercedes).

– It’s (currently) the most powerful hot-hatch on the market. Mercedes are due to increase the power output of the AMG A45 to 381 BHP – from 355 BHP – in a strange game of ‘My D is bigger than yours’ with their Ingolstadt rivals…There is of course the BMW M135i, lots of rear-wheel drive hooning – but I couldn’t live with its sad face or fat bottom. The RS3 hits 62 MPH in 4.2 seconds from a standstill.

– It feels lightweight and nimble, I had thought that the RS3 was lighter than the A45, but it turns out the A45 is actually lighter than the RS3! (Credit to Justin Rick @ Mercedes Tonbridge for pointing this out!). The A45 felt a heavier car, maybe through the more weighted steering feedback…

– It’s practical. Genuinely. Having been a ‘hot hatch’ fan-boy for many years now (After owning and driving all different types of cars) I feel that a fast hatchback is the ideal car for UK roads. UK roads are terrible, the weather is largely mixed and the roads just aren’t big enough to drive everywhere in something like the Bentley I had arrived in. This suits the Audi pocket-rocket and its fantastic Quattro system perfectly.

– It’s limited to 155 MPH. I know that the Germans have been doing this for some time now, but this car really feels like it could easily push through that barrier (174 MPH Unrestricted)…Of course I didn’t try this on public roads!

– It’s reassuringly expensive. Not joking, this demonstrator lists at over £42,000 OTR (WOW.) – Why is it a good thing? Because it’s a genuine performance car. I happened to be standing in a BMW dealership recently, looking at an M3 Saloon whist I was waiting to see somebody. I couldn’t help but notice the OTR price was quite a way over the £60k mark. £60k! Yes, it has 40 BHP more and looks quite fancy but come on…a 20k premium? ‘Small’ cars are getting bigger and more powerful…bigger cars are becoming more fuel-efficient and environmentally conscious. (Note the Audi A8 E-tron Hybrid, Mercedes S400 Hybrid and BMW Active 7 Hybrid). This is the way the market is being driven due to demand and customer buying attitudes.

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So whats it like to drive? Quick. Very quick.

Like the rapid A45 AMG this RS3 is a genuine license loser. The soundtrack is addictive BUT it really can be driven sensibly when you aren’t pretending to be an 80’s rally driver. It isn’t deceptively fast, it feels physically fast with a soundtrack to match. This car had the standard exhaust system but I’m told it can be upgraded to a Sports Exhaust system – this I would be interested to hear! The whole thing (Engine et al) is mated to the superb 7 Speed Twin clutch (think DSG) gearbox that helps to really pull the car enthusiastically towards the horizon.

The suspension and ride are fantastic compared to its predecessor, I expected it to be a bit of a bone-shaker like the much maligned (but now collectible) previous 8P RS3 but it really coped exceptionally well over a large range of road surfaces. Interestingly the car seemed to adapt to my driving style through different conditions. You can change the driving dynamics of the car by using Audi’s drive select function activated through the MMI Screen. Settings are; Comfort, Auto, Dynamic or if you are feeling particularly ambitions – Individual. Audi’s often come under fire from road testers and the general motoring press in the UK for having a lack of steering feel or slightly underwhelming handling, my argument is yes, they often do feel like driving a car in a computer game, but they are often – like the RS3 – extremely competent. It does exactly what its supposed to do. It feels surefooted and well planted 99% of the time and only really skates or skits across the surface somewhat if you start to get a bit too trigger happy through some S-bends. For most drivers, this car is perfectly adequate and capable and will probably make you feel like a better driver than you actually are.

Fuel consumption, No idea. You don’t buy a car like this and worry about fuel, but the Audi boys tell me that the RS3 achieves around 34.9 MPG. Fascinating!

As a brief summary then – Yes, the RS3 gets my vote. A much improved and needed upgrade from the previous generation. Go buy it, even in that daft ‘primer’ grey colour. You can throw in your wife and kids (plus some luggage) and have a sensibly rapid, rally stage drive to the next town with a Sainsbury’s local.

Oh and if you were wondering – Snap, Crackle, Pop is the sound that comes from those exhausts (and the ensuing whiplash).

M

For more information about the new RS3 please call James Scanlon at Tunbridge Wells Audi on – 01732 808620‎ or of course contact us! Mark@TheCarSpy.Net or 01892 506970

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