3 Sportback 2.5 TFSI quattro S tronic
say life is a dance; others
that its a race. In Audis agile 174mph
RS 3 Sportback it can, happily, be
both! And with 394bhp and 0-62 in
4.1 seconds, it will boogie-woogie
all night long...
EVERY YEAR ALMOST FORTY million cars jostle for space on the UK's over-crowded
roads; traffic congestion, like taxes, is an inescapable fact of life. So why
then do driving enthusiasts continue to buy high-performance cars? Escapism?
To a degree; but these devotees are more than petrolheads. Born optimists, they're
fuelled by the belief that there are still places where you can get pleasure
from driving hard and not just at a trackday.
And anyone who thinks that power always corrupts only needs to drive with a
seasoned high-performance driver to confirm that that's just not true
in fact, the majority of those paying speeding fines usually own a run-of-the-mill
motor. So you could argue that driving a high-performance car means you're less
likely to get caught speeding…
aside, the latest RS 3 Sportback we've been punting around all week is, in real
terms, not that expensive given its power (394bhp) and performance (174mph and
0-62mph in 4.1 seconds) although you'll have to hand your friendly Audi dealer
a minimum of £43K to pocket the keys to one.
the RS 3 is one of Audi's trademark gloss black, single frame, honeycomb-design
grilles with angular-cut LED headlights and those so-cool dynamic indicators
that sweep-flash from the inside out. Beautifully flared wheel arches wrap tightly
around 19-inch diamond-cut, matt titanium five-arm alloys wearing lo-pro 255/30
Pirellis and, clearly visible, are black-painted callipers with, at the front,
RS logos and no-messing drilled and vented discs. Subtle side-sill extensions
enhance the hunkered-down stance that's part and parcel of the RS 3's Sports
latest RS 3
in real terms, not that
expensive given its
power (394bhp) and
and 0-62mph in 4.1
seconds) although youll
have to hand your
friendly Audi dealer at
least £43K to pocket the
keys to one...
The rear tailgate is capped by a roof-edge spoiler and there's a gloss black
diffuser with a meaty megaphone-style exhaust tailpipe at each corner, also
finished in black, that belong to the extra-cost RS Sport exhaust system. They
make for a fabulously growly signature sound that will rattle the neighbour's
windows from a cold start and provide a match for anything coming out of the
Bang & Olufsen sound system, especially the metallic-edged pops, crackles and
snaps your ears are treated to when skipping back down the gears in Sport mode
for those times when, were you using a stick shift, you'd be double-declutching.
Interestingly, the RS 3 Sportback outsells the four-door RS 3 saloon by two
to one. While the saloon does give off some mean vibes, the Sportback, particularly
finished in metallic Glacier White with some well-judged gloss black body finishing,
takes the cake for understated street cred.
Inside the RS 3 you'll discover yet another superbly-built and emotively stylish
cockpit from the four-ring cabin-meisters. The sportingly all-black theme is
made even better by the well-considered mix of quality trim materials, including
extra leather and suede, as well as carbon inlays and smart satin chrome highlights
The pièce de résistance has to be the gorgeous Super Sport front seats upholstered
in black fine Nappa leather with 'quilted' diamond-pattern panels and grey stitching.
Along with excellent shoulder support from the backrest 'wings', the bolstering
offers just the right degree of location while the three-stage seat heating
is very quick to reach its hottest setting and the front of the base cushion
extends for extra under-thigh support.
alongside the seats is Audi's Virtual Cockpit the high-res 12.3-inch
digital display fills the instrument panel and is brilliant to use, particularly
when you choose to display the active SatNav mapping as a functional background
upon which the 'dials' (large or minimised) can be superimposed. It's also RS
specific, displaying, should you want them, readings for torque and G-force.
digitised dials are dark grey and black with sharp white shadowed figures that
are both stylish and easy to read. On the right sits a speedometer with a large
speed readout in the 'gold'; to the left is the rev-counter with, in its centre
ring, the selected gear and active Drive Select mode.
a fabulously growly
signature sound that will
rattle the neighbours
windows from a cold
start and provide a match
for anything coming out
of the Bang & Olufsen
sound system, especially
the metallic-edged pops,
crackles and snaps
your ears are treated to
when skipping back
down the gears in
Talking of which, you could choose something else but we set the 'fave' button
on the wheel to switch between the driving modes as it takes less time than
using the button on the dash.
The flat-bottomed, three-spoke wheel earns equal star-billing alongside the
seats and Virtual Cockpit superbly finished in black leather with dark
grey suede 'work' sections, it's über-tactile and feels part of you when you're
working the helm. Naturally it's multifunction; the gear shift paddles are wheel
mounted and exactly where you need them for overtaking 'bursts' or permanently
engaged manual shifting up and down the 'box. And not to be overlooked is the
spherical palm-fitting gear knob, also wrapped in suede and capped by a RS emblem.
But machinery like the RS 3 isn't intended to dazzle and seduce passengers (although
it probably will) they're targeted at drivers; drivers who really like
to get the bit between their teeth. Which brings us back to that roaring 394bhp.
The Audi Sport-fettled RS 3 is powered by a turbocharged, direct injected aluminium
five-pot 2.5-litre petrol engine that, in drive-out-of-the-showroom spec, is
good for a liberal 155mph; enthusiasts won't baulk at paying the extra £1,600
needed to unlock its full potential doing so gets it derestricted, which
means a heady 174mph top-end (the 0-62mph acceleration remains the same, at
4.1 seconds). A dual-clutch seven-speed autobox with paddle-shifters takes care
of business, ably aided by Audi's quattro all-wheel drive.
For the record, although the cost of filling the RS 3's tank won't dent anyone's
wallet who can afford to buy one, the fact that it's no gas-guzzler is an added
bonus and helps minimise time-wastage refuelling on long trips. Officially in
the combined cycle, those rarely realistic lab-derived 'guides' suggest you
might see 34mpg. A very pleasant surprise then to finish our week with an overall
average recorded of 33.7mpg!
RS 3 Sportback's 394bhp is backed up by an equally persuasive 354lb ft of torque.
Better still, the driver has some say about the manner of how this is disbursed
through the four driven wheels Audi's Drive Select modifies the S tronic
autobox's gear shift points and the quattro system is capable of sending up
to one hundred per cent of the driving torque to the rear wheels.
Drive Select changes the handling and dynamic responses at the touch of a button
to suit the way you want to drive, enabling the driver to call up a different
mix of settings for the engine and gearshift characteristics, quattro drive
system, exhaust flap control, and steering feel via four pre-set driving modes:
Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual.
is a major surprise to many, after clocking the pretty awesome performance figures,
is just how docile it can be. Set the Drive Select to Comfort and that's absolutely
what you get; yes, even riding on those rubber-band Pirellis.
a passenger not
expecting it, the RS 3
feels dragster fast,
launching itself towards
the horizon with not so
much as a warning
chirp from the Pirellis;
keep your right foot
planted and it just keeps
on giving well past three
figures, the twin-clutch
gearbox serving up
without pausing for
breath as it races up the
On the move the RS 3's superbly supportive and comfortable seats, along with
a refined drivetrain, transform usually tiresome motorway journeys into a stroll
in the park. And Comfort is just the job when the traffic's as sticky as treacle
and your Spotify playlist is providing the entertainment rather than the 394
horses corralled under the bonnet and their twin, large-bore voice-boxes.
When the traffic does thin and the roads turn interesting or as Sherlock
Holmes would say: When the game's afoot select Dynamic and the RS 3's
2.5-litre powerplant will be ramped up and raring to go, eager to dish out the
big-hearted torque at its disposal throughout a well spread powerband.
For a passenger not expecting it, the RS 3 feels dragster fast, launching itself
towards the horizon with not so much as a warning chirp from the Pirellis; keep
your right foot planted and it just keeps on giving well past three figures,
the twin-clutch gearbox serving up seamless changes without pausing for breath
as it races up the seven-ratio scale.
Of course, power alone is not much use at all; unless it's harnessed… and boy,
does the quattro do a great job of that. Cornering at very quick speeds front-end
grip is amazing; the rear wheels following through as if on rails, not deviating
from the line set by the fronts before you kick in more power, the torque shunting
rearwards to ensure 'max-trax'. Naturally the on-board torque vectoring system
is singing from the same hymn sheet, favouring the outside wheels during cornering
to better the handling balance.
4.4-metre-long RS 3 has an overlooked ace in its handling arsenal it's
compact footprint and the good views out, both forward and to the sides through
the deep side glass; slim screen pillars frame a perfect view down the bonnet
and you can see the top edges of the wings. Taken together they make the RS
3 a doddle to place accurately, even barrelling down tortuously winding roads.
Scrubbing speed is another essential and while our RS 3 'made do' with the upgraded
RS items they worked a treat, unfailingly serving up powerful and progressive
braking at all speeds on all roads for the committed there is the option
of the hugely impressive ceramic brakes that for regular track use can justify
the additional £4,695.
more than an ample sufficiency of kit in the RS 3 Sportback in addition
to all that we've mentioned elsewhere you'll find one-shot windows, heated powerfolding
door mirrors (on demand and automatically on locking and leaving), auto lights
and wipers, 'rain' lights (to kill glare from wet tarmac, particularly at night),
keyless entry and start, frameless auto-dimming rearview mirror, parking sensors
with a bird's-eye schematic, privacy glass, illuminated cupholder rims (what
d'you mean, you don't drink coffee after dark?!), stainless steel pedal set,
cruise control, Audi Parking System Plus, electric parking brake (works like
a charm), and 2-zone climate control, etc.
likely to be used by your front seat passenger (if you have to ask then you
shouldn't be in the driving seat) is a sliding and height-adjustable centre
armrest topping a slim under-tray with a pad for wireless smartphone charging
and a nifty little elasticated net pocket along with some USB and Aux ports;
just ahead sits the rotary knob for managing the intuitive MMI interface and
which, via its touch-sensitive top, recognises your handwriting and also lets
you move and zoom freely on the map, using your fingertip.
course, power alone
is not much use at all;
unless its harnessed…
and boy, does the quattro
do a great job of that.
Cornering at very quick
speeds front-end grip is
amazing; the rear wheels
following as though on
rails, not deviating from
the line set by the fronts
before you boot in more
power, the torque
shunting rearwards to
ensure max-trax is maintained...
Comms and infotainment are well served by the central 7-inch colour MMI infotainment
monitor that rises up out of the central fascia on start-up (you can retract
it anytime you like). Along with integrated navigation with 3D mapping and dynamic
route guidance it can show places of interest, map previews, lane recommendations,
motorway exits, and detailed junction maps, etc, plus traffic updates and traffic
information online. There's also voice recognition and, on the entertainment
front, a Jukebox hard drive with 10GB of memory for music, DVD slot for music
CDs and video DVDs, and a DAB digital radio.
provided are SDXC card readers and USB charging points, Bluetooth, and seamless
smartphone connection for access to your calls, messages, navigation and even
Spotify playlists with voice commands or via steering wheel controls.
In an ideal world you wouldn't choose to sit in the back of the RS 3 Sportback.
Not because it isn't as superbly finished and as comfortable as the front
because it is but the front is where the action is. However, if you're
just along for the ride then there's plenty to recommend it, not least the same
quilted-effect soft leather covering the well cushioned backrests and bases,
padded outer armrests, air-vents, netted magazine pouches, usable rear door
pockets, damped grabs, and not really expected a fist of headroom.
Those needing to ferry youngsters will be glad of the remote activated (via
the driver's door switch) child locks on the rear doors as well as the Isofix
child seat mounting and top tether points for the outer rear seats (the front
passenger seat also has them, obviously for use with the airbag deactivated).
There's also decent foot room and three side-by-side is definitely doable.
More so than the saloon, the Sportback fits with real-world elements of family
life the boot is regular shaped and swallows 335 litres of luggage; drop
the 60:40-split rear backrests and that expands to a 1,175-litre loadbay (the
saloon musters a worthy 315 litres but only 770 litres with the seatbacks down).
Using the loadbay is easy the tailgate opens high and the load sill is
just above your knee. You'll also find practical features such as pull-out bag
hooks and stretchy nets to keep your cargo in place.
The RS 3 Sportback delivers laugh-out-loud driving enjoyment; it's a delight
to be behind the wheel, whatever the driving conditions. A double WOW from what
for many enthusiasts is the perfect everyday sports car serving up the perfect
adrenaline hit. ~ MotorBar
Audi RS 3 Sportback 2.5 TFSI quattro S tronic
Maximum speed: 174mph | 0-62mph: 4.1 seconds | Test Average: 33.7mpg
Power: 394bhp | Torque: 354lb ft | CO2: 192g/km