Does it look special enough?
There has always been a bit of debate surrounding certain performance Audi models and their tendency to err on the conservative side when it comes to their design. I feel that the RS3, in sedan form, strikes the perfect balance between aggression and sophistication. There are massive air inlets on the front bumper, a large quattro badge on the lower bumper and at the rear, and two enormous exhaust tips on either side.
The great news for those who disagree with me and want a sportier look, is that Audi Sport will be offering its Performance Parts catalogue as optional extras within the local market. The best news of all is that many of these items such as the wheels, wings, stickers, exhausts and splitters are available for retro-fitment on existing Audi Sport models.
At the time of driving the sedan version of the RS3, the updated Sportback hadn’t been launched locally as of yet. Therefore, this was my first taste of the heavily revised five-cylinder turbocharged motor.
Aside from cutting an incredible 26kg from the previous unit, Audi has also made it more efficient and more importantly, more powerful. There’s now 294kW/480Nm on offer, transmitted through a seven-speed S tronic gearbox to all four wheels via the obligatory quattro all-wheel drive system.
The result, with launch control activated, is an unexpected, addictive and astonishing lurch forward, which gets you to 100km/h from zero in well under four seconds, despite Audi claiming 4.1 seconds. It’s not just the 0-100km/h time that’s impressive though, it’s the elasticity of the motor, which allows for really fast in-gear acceleration, making the RS3 fast pretty much everywhere.
In an era of rather generic turbocharged four-cylinder performance cars, the RS3’s five-pot produces the sort of soundtrack that makes the driver and occupants look like human Howler Monkeys as they drive, mouths gaping in enjoyment.
There aren’t many cars that I drive for the sake of driving, but with the RS3, I found any excuse to take it out for a drive. I suppose that the appeal for me is in the fact that in terms of performance, this A3-based sedan will sit with machinery considered supercars as little as five years ago.
It’s still an Audi
Another aspect of the RS3 that is a massive plus for potential owners, is that this is still an A3 underneath its aggressive body kit and big alloy wheels. The benefit of that is the impressive MQB platform and superb quality of the interior, meaning there’s a capable everyday car beneath all the performance regalia.
As with the regular A3 Sedan, rear headroom is not ideal for taller occupants and the boost isn’t massive at 310-litres, but being a sedan with four doors, it is still relatively practical. Being a performance car, not too many people care about its consumption, but it’s nice to know that it’s not excessive. I managed just over 10-litres/100km during my four day stint with the car, which is still quite far from the 8.3-litres/100km claim.
My test unit did have close to R100 000 worth of optional extras fitted, which is also typical Audi and pretty much any premium automaker these days. Some of the options included the MMI Navigation infotainment system, the Virtual Cockpit Display, Bang and Olufsen sound system, panoramic roof, carbon fibre interior trim, adaptive cruise control, S sports seats, red brake calipers and the gloss black styling package.
Factoring in the optional extras means that my test unit was over R1-million, for an A3-based car. That being said, the level of refinement, comfort and performance on offer rivals many cars that cost many hundreds of thousands of Rands more. The RS3 isn’t cheap, but as a package, it’s difficult to beat.