3 Sportback 2.5 TFSI quattro S tronic
ago a friend was pulled over
by a traffic policeman whose opening
line was: Excuse
me, Son, are you
having trouble taking off?
sentiment that might well apply to
über-fast RS 3 which scorches
to 62mph in 4.3 seconds and, when
derestricted by a friendly Audi dealer,
will hit 174mph...
OFF, THEN, IS CLEARLY NOT A PROBLEM. Keeping your licence could be. Not
that there's any shortage of drivers wanting to 'pilot' Audi's superfast family
hatch well before these new RS 3 models were even en route
to Audi showrooms in the UK, the bulk of the entire first year's allocation
had already been spoken for!
costs £39,625 although our test car came specced with a number of the optional
extras that your average RS 3 owner will be keen to add goodies
like the Dynamic Package Plus which includes magnetic dampers for improved ride
comfort (£2,495) and the fabulous fine Nappa leather Super Sports seats (£795),
19-inch five-arm black alloy wheels for £895 and the Technology package that
includes SatNav and Audi Connect (£1,795).
fact, Audi say that it's the norm for RS 3 Sportback buyers to spend, on average,
a further £8K on up-speccing.
imply minimal trackday
buckets but the RS 3s
tone soft leather seats
are a world away from
wonderfully accommodating and
hold you just so while
as it comes out of the box, £40K buys you serious road presence and serious
performance, all enjoyed from within a seriously svelte cockpit. In fact, given
the electrifying performance, £40K sounds like a pretty good deal indeed!
Audi has made the RS 3, at one and the same time, eye-catchingly standout and
brilliantly understated. The five-door Sportback body wears well-judged flared
wheelarches not too big, but just big enough to accommodate the
19-inch alloys shod with über-low-pro rubber.
The nose is pure RS, identified by the trademark black gloss honeycomb grille.
Gaping, fully functional meshed ducts feed air to the oil cooler and additional
radiator located behind the lower grille. The tail treatment is equally sporting,
with a screen-capping rear roof spoiler underscored by a diffuser bracketed
by a stein-sized oval tailpipe at each corner.
Inside the RS 3 is still at heart a surprisingly roomy hatchback that will accommodate
four or even five with typical high-end Audi quality. In RS guise its impeccably-finished,
black themed cabin is crowned by fabulously inviting 'Super Sports' seats.
'Super Sports' could imply stripped-down trackday buckets but the RS 3's diamond-patterned,
two-tone soft leather seats are a world away from thin-skinned GRP shells
they're wide-shouldered, wonderfully accommodating and hold you just so while
providing genuine comfort.
They also have three-stage heating, extendable under-knee support and powered
lumbar adjustment (both in and out and up and down). All of which contributes
to an A1 driving position and fine all-round visibility, including to the rear
through the auto-dimming rearview mirror and the powerfolding heated door mirrors.
seriously flat-bottomed all-black RS-badged steering wheel is a tactile delight
with suede work areas around its meaty rim, while the paddle-shifters on its
horizontal spokes are perfectly sited for triggering an addictive 361bhp adrenaline
comprehensively multi-function too, with buttons for remotely controlling just
bottomed all-black RS-
badged steering wheel is
a tactile delight with
suede work areas around
its meaty rim, while the
paddle-shifters on its
horizontal spokes are
perfectly sited for
triggering an addictive
there's a wealth of tasteful detailing: the intricate stitching on the upholstery;
the boost gauge in the rev-counter; the modish eyeball air vents with lovely
knurled ally outer rims that twist to regulate the airflow and whose nifty inner
nozzles are pulled or pushed to switch between a direct or diffused air flow
pattern; the easily-selected all-weather lights that prevent you being dazzled
by your own on wet roads; and the carbon-fibre trim inlays that although not
currently available on UK-spec cars nonetheless look great.
console alongside the driver's left thigh houses the S tronic selector lever,
the electric parking brake and the straightforward MMI rotary controller for
the multimedia system. In addition to just turning the dial to input information,
a touchpad built into the top of the MMI rotary knob lets you enter letters,
numbers and symbols; even more conveniently, you can operate many MMI functions
The pin-sharp MMI screen retracts out of sight into the fascia when not required
but when on show provides excellent mapping with on-screen road speed signs;
spoken directions are timely, and graphic navigation cues are mirrored on the
smaller driver's screen separating the black-faced speedometer and rev-counter.
Other driver-friendly touches include instant infotainment menu jumping using
the buttons on the wheel, quick 'tabs' for direct finger-tapped access to all
the main infotainment menus, CD plus SD and SIM slots in the lit and lined glovebox,
four one-shot tinted windows (with privacy glass to the rear), drive-off automatic
door locking and, in addition to a full set of airbags, one just for the driver's
Wearing its family-friendly hat the RS 3 Sportback welcomes rear cabin passengers
with comfy outer seats that match those up front with the same
fancy-tooled leather and dished backrests. The shapely outer armrests will also
be appreciated by those travelling in the back as too will the air-conditioning
vents, magazine pockets and decent foot room.
fist of headroom helps keep it airy despite the all-black décor. The high transmission
tunnel does mean that anyone using the middle seat will need to have a foot
in both camps. For those carrying smaller back seat occupants the driver-controlled
remote rear door child locks will add peace of mind.
potent 361bhp is 342lb ft
of torque that peaks
The result is stunningly
low down the rev-band.
And, spurred on by
a gloriously hard-edged
yowl from the exhaust,
it surges tsunami-like
right through the
the back seats in use there's 280 litres for luggage but ditch the people and
drop the 60:40-split seatbacks and that increases to a handy 1,120 litres. The
tailgate opens high and a knee-height load sill makes for back-friendly loading.
Another well-considered touch: the outer rear belts stay well out of the way
when folding or raising the rear seats.
to a new intercooler and revised turbo, the RS 3's petrol-swigging 2.5-litre
five-cylinder powerplant has gained useful power and torque boosts, making this
RS 3 the quickest yet. Not that it will really matter to owners, but it's also
EU6-compliant and emissions are down.
with a potent 361bhp is 342lb ft of torque that peaks from 1,625rpm. The result,
more than ever in S tronic Sport or Drive Select Dynamic modes, is stunningly
strong 'grunt' from low down the rev-band. And, spurred on by a gloriously hard-edged
yowl from the exhaust, it surges tsunami-like right through the midrange Neither
is the five-pot shy in meeting up with the red-line so if needs
be your overtaking can be as brutally quick as it is seamless.
and accomplished drivers will also appreciate that in manual mode the now-faster
shifting seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic gearbox doesn't automatically
change up, letting them hold a gear when, say, lining up to spear through a
corner. It also adapts the timing of the shifts to your driving style: drive
hard and the changes will be far sportier; drive moderately and you'll trigger
the most economical shift pattern.
All this mechanical power and glory is enough to catapult the RS 3 off the line
in 4.3 seconds and all the way on to its ex-factory, electronically-limited
155mph however, as mentioned earlier, your Audi dealer can, and
will, de-restrict it for you, after which near enough ten-tenths of the 180mph
marked on the speedometer could be seen. Some family hatchback!
by the VW Group's aluminium-and-steel hybrid MQB platform with revised suspension,
riding 25mm closer to the ground than the standard model and with wider front
and rear tracks, this RS-fettled version goes exactly where you point it. The
nose is quick to respond and corners are taken level, helped by the unflappable
grip and the 255/30-profile Pirelli rubber. The brakes, boosted by eight-piston
callipers and Audi's 'wave' profile discs at the front, are strong and decisive.
it handles with
4x4 quattro grip
a delightful feeling of it being light on its feet.
Fortunately its unshakeable body control doesnt
mean keen drivers need wear a gum-shield
with the optional
magnetic ride system
Drive Select set
on 19-inch wheels the
RS 3 rides with
unexpectedly adept compliance...
it handles with 'locked-down' 4x4 quattro grip there's still a delightful feeling
of it being light on its feet. Fortunately its unshakeable body control doesn't
mean keen drivers need wear a gum-shield… when fitted with the optional magnetic
ride system and Drive Select set to Comfort, even rolling on 19-inch wheels
the RS 3 rides with unexpectedly adept compliance.
Your other Drive Select choices are Auto, Dynamic and Individual, which lets
you tailor the engine sound (really!), the engine and gearbox settings, suspension
control, and steering weighting all to suit.
hugely impressive performer, the RS 3 is a hoot to drive. Not just along an
engaging stretch of empty blacktop but even at the sort of speeds that are the
order of the day most of the time on today's clogged and congested roads.
you're prepared to write a cheque for around £40K for a superfast five-door
family hatchback you won't be worrying about running costs. But when you do
know, you won't be whinging, but smirking.
Officially the RS 3 Sportback returns 34.9mpg in the Combined Cycle with 189g/km
emissions. When they collected our RS 3 at the end of a week's entertaining
driving, its on-board computer was registering a real-world average consumption
family-friendly as any regular A3 Sportback, this plush but wickedly fast RS
version can feel incredibly tame loping along at near three figures but it has
all-weather limits that you're unlikely to ever close with at
least on public roads. Feelgood rating? Ten out of ten!
Audi RS 3 Sportback 2.5 TFSI quattro S tronic
Maximum speed: 155mph | 0-62mph: 4.3 seconds | Test Average: 32.7mpg
Power: 361bhp | Torque: 342lb ft | CO2: 189g/km