Audi will be bringing an updated RS3 Sportback to the Geneva Motor show next month. “The Audi RS 3 Sportback offers our customers an attractive introduction to the RS world,” says Stephan Winklemann (head of Audi Sport). For the less knowledgeable, the RS sector of Audi is their sports section, mostly based on the successful Quattro 4 wheel drive system, that made them such as success back in 1980’s rallying.
Engine and performance
The RS3 comes equipped with a 2.5 litre TFSI engine delivering 394 BHP (33 more than the previous generation). The TFSI engine combines turbocharging technology and fuel injection technology that allow for moderate fuel consumption, however when the demand is required the performance kicks in with 0-60 MPH in 4.1 seconds and on to a top speed of 174MPH (with the optional dynamic package). The only downside of this is your tax will be nearing £300. Compared to other performance based cars it is not too shabby. In testing, the car has achieved 34 MPG- a credible figure for a performance based car. Audi has not stated if this figure is for urban and extra-urban driving or a combined cycle. Realistically buying an entry-level RS model would suggest that fuel economy would not be your top priority.
Under the Bonnet
The RS3 comes with permanent Quattro drive combined with an S Tronic 7-speed dual electronic clutch transmission. In English, this means that the gearbox and wheel drive system work in tandem to spread the power equally around all four wheels. This is done with a rear bias set up, so that power being sent to the front wheels provides extra grip allowing for safer and better corning at higher speed. The car comes with 3 modes for the driver to select from, these include; Auto, Comfort and Dynamic. These allow for the driver to adjust the steering transmission and engine management and dynamics of the car. This can be further enhanced by the electronic stabilisation control (ESC- traction control) that has been specifically tuned for the car and Sport mode.
The car itself is 25mm lower than the standard A3 thanks to different suspension set up to the standard car, this along with the Quattro drive is designed to “deliver compelling grip”. Furthermore, the car has 19inch alloy wheels with 310mm brake discs all round. The front brakes can be upgraded if desired to carbon ceramics to allow for more braking performance. One final thing you can enjoy is the flappy paddle gear changes available when the car is in manual mode.
The RS3 comes with some good sports based gadgetry. This includes a lap timer for those who wish to take the car on the track or time themselves going to the shops and back. The car has a boost pressure gauge that shows how much boost is coming from the turbo. If you desire, the car will also show you the torque readings, G forces and tyre pressure.
Outside of the sports geek specs, the RS3 comes with Audi connect which is their interface for Apple car play and Android Auto. The Audi connect system also allows for the car to connect with Google for sat-nav and street view. This also includes information on fuel prices; weather travel times and traffic issues. Furthermore, Audi’s connectivity will allow for you to connect with your phone’s calendar and check scheduled events. A final feature to note of this is the wifi hotspot that allows passengers to connect to the internet. This system can be controlled be either a rotary push button control or a touchpad integrated on the screen and voice control.
For those wanting their music on loud whilst driving not only will it be possible to connect your own music to the car (thanks to Audi connect) but you can enjoy a 705 Watt Bang and Olufsen Sound System controllable via the steering wheel/integrated system.
To distinguish the RS3 from the standard car styling tweaks have been applied in the interior and applied to the exterior. On the exterior, the wheel arches have been flared and a roof edge spoiler has been included. The sports exhaust has been given distinct oval design on both sides compared to the standard twin exhausts. The front grille has been tweaked and has Quattro written on it as a tribute to the 1980’s Quattro. Overall the exterior changes are very subtle and give a discrete sporting edge.
Inside the car has received other styling tweaks, the seats are embossed with RS emblems if you wish you can have optional sports seats for the front passengers. Whilst this is the main change made the interior on the standard A3 has been copied over, which is not a bad thing, but it would be good to have a few simple changes to remind you that you are in the Quattro RS model rather than the standard model.
The RS3 Sportback is Audi’s latest RS lined car, it continues Audi’s trend of producing sporty cars that are discrete, whilst the TT and R8 are the exceptions, and the new RS3 fits into the company’s image of this. Whilst this is good it would not harm Audi to make their RS models stand out slightly more than they do, whilst the sleeper is very popular, giving the cars a bespoke body kit would not go amiss nor would an upgraded interior space, beyond RS embodied seats/ sports seats. Overall the RS3 is a well-equipped entry-level car for the RS group, how this relates to road performance is yet to be seen. Based on the slowing down of the Audi Sport division this could be an excellent entry-level RS car. The car itself will be premiering at the Geneva motor show in March. Prices are to be announced later this year with UK orders opening up in the summer.