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The Audi RS3 Sportback is a supercar in a box

26.04.2016

Audi's latest five -door RS3 Sportback really is a cracker.

Its gorgeous 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo motor dishes up 270kW of power and 465Nm of torque to all four wheels via a delicious 7-speed speed S-tronic gearbox, and when you dig in the spurs with the exhaust flap open in sports mode it howls, pops and bangs like it's being chased by the devil himself.

Styling

Styling? Well, for me, it's unremarkable, a typical generic five-door hatchback until you look closer and see all the interesting ancillaries - things like the 370mm petal wave ventilated front brake discs clamped by sexy eight-pot RS branded calipers.

Performance

It's interesting to note that the Audi's straight-line performance compares favourably that of the with the gorgeous  R1,2 million Alfa-Romeo 4C, with virtually identical 0-100km/h acceleration times and similar top speeds - 4,3 seconds and 250km/h versus 4,5 seconds s and 268km/h for the Alfa.

The RS3 can go even faster if you opt to remove the electronic speed limiter, which gives it a top whack of 280km/h despite its being cursed with the aerodynamics of a wet box of rusks, relatively speaking. 

That's impressive for a family hatchback and would have qualified the RS3 as a genuine supercar a decade or so back - the exotic 2005 Ferrari 360 ran a virtually identical acceleration time but had a 310km/h top speed.

Handling

Handling is, as you would expect, superb on the road and by all accounts excellent on the racetrack. Like the handful of other superhatches that offer in excess of 250Kw and reach 250km/h without breaking a sweat, the really impressive thing about the Audi is that it does everything so well. It can realistically shape well as a mom's taxi, a shopping trolley or a city runabout without flinching, and then turn into a monster at the racetrack over weekends.

Verdict

It's beautifully crafted, well equipped and even reasonably economical if you drive it sanely, using less than 10-litres/100km, but I don't think that's going to be important to most people.

The Audi is not alone in providing all this - the 280kW Mercedes-Benz AMG A45 is the other class leader in terms of sheer grunt, and there are some less powerful rivals that offer just as much fun on the road and the racetrack. I don't think anybody who buys it will be disappointed though, even at a R775,500 base price.  

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26.04.2016
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