An everyday sportscar, fitted with a not-so everyday engine.
The new Audi RS 3 Sportback is one of the most powerful cars of its class around today. More power, more presence with this ramped up and ready to go smaller model in Audi’s RS range. With improved dynamics, the RS 3 Sportback reaches 0-62mph in just 4.1 seconds.
The new RS 3 Sportback looks as impressive as ever with its rear roof spoiler and two sizeable tailpipes as well as the large black honeycomb front grille and flared front wheel arches. RS Sports suspension and RS braking system also come as standard making this latest RS model the ideal everyday sports car.
Featuring the latest in audi technology, the RS 3 Sportback includes Audi Virtual Cockpit offering a 12.3 inch digital display, high resolution instrument panel and RS specific screen displaying readings for torque and G-force. MMI navigation comes as standard and with Audi Smartphone Interface, you can seamlessly connect your smartphone to your car. Front sports seats in fine Nappa leather with RS embossed logo add to the luxury of the RS 3 Sportback as well as the RS flat-bottomed 3-spoke leather and alcantara multi-function steering wheel.
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Audi RS3 Test Drive Review
What is the Audi RS3 Sportback?
The Audi RS3 is a key pillar in the hot hatch segment, having set the trend for some time now. It’s been updated and this brings even more power – now close to 400bhp – as well as a quicker 0-60mph time of 3.9 seconds. That puts it close to supercar territory, in a car that will just as happily trundle down to the shops as it’ll eat up B roads.
What's new on the Audi RS3 Sportback?
There have been a fair amount of changes made to the new RS3. Externally, there are LED lights at the front and rear, with dynamic rear indicators which strobe when activated giving a real impact to the back of the car.
The front grille is framed with an aluminium-look surround, while dual exhausts at the rear give some indication as to the RS3’s performance. However, the Audi’s relatively understated looks is one of its most appealing traits, as it underplays just how fast it is. That said, it still has arches that are now wider by 20mm over the previous-generation car.
What's under the bonnet of an Audi RS3 Sportback?
Here’s where some of the biggest changes have been applied. The large, 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol – the only five-cylinder in the segment – has been revised, meaning faster acceleration and better economy. The engine is 26 kilograms lighter than its predecessor, and this is down to its use of a lightweight alloy crankcase – the older unit was cast in iron. Audi engineers have gone even further in the pursuit of lightness, hollow-boring the crankshaft to make it a full kilogram lighter, as well as making the crankshaft bearings smaller. The changes may sound small, but they make a big difference.
Power is still sent to all four wheels via Audi’s legendary Quattro system, with between 50 and 100 per cent of the power capable of being sent to the rear wheels. This gives a rear-wheel-bias which does well to eliminate some of the understeer that has so plagued Audis of old.
What's the Audi RS3 Sportback like to drive?
First and foremost, the RS3 is fast. Make no bones about it, the way it sets off is nothing short of remarkable. Even in the wet – and our Buckinghamshire test route was sodden in a typically British-weather-in-summer way – it manages to find a huge amount of traction, even under full throttle. It’s an impressively quick car, but that was to be expected considering its close to 400bhp power output.
So the question remains: does the RS3 still understeer? Well, it’s a mixture of yes and no. Enter a corner too quickly, and the RS3 will still push on as you’d expect. However, apply a bit of throttle and it will bring itself back in tighter, even showing hints of oversteer at times. It’s a car that remains best driven neatly, though, and it’ll happily do that thanks to plenty of traction. The RS3 is well accomplished at covering ground exceptionally quickly in all conditions, and the combination of four-wheel-drive and a smooth-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch automatic ‘box makes for a car that shouldn’t leave many drivers wanting more involvement.
What's the Audi RS3 Sportback like on the inside?
As usual, the RS3’s interior exhibits the level of build quality and fit-and-finish that we’ve come to expect from Audi. You now get the firm’s excellent virtual cockpit display, which comprises of a 12.3-inch LCD monitor fitted where you’d traditionally find the analogue instrument binnacle. A lovely three-spoke ‘RS’ steering wheel has also been fitted and, though a small addition, makes a huge difference. It’s not too thick, and has been trimmed in alcantara giving you plenty of grip. As one of the first points of contact between car and driver, it adds far more confidence in the car than you’d expect.
The five-door hatch RS3 benefits from 280 litres of seats-up boot space – a lot of room is taken away by the four-wheel-drive system – though this can be extended up to 1,120 litres by lowering the rear seats.
Given the RS3’s £43,300 entry price, you’ll no doubt be pleased to hear that there’s a good degree of standard equipment on offer. You get LED headlights and rear lights included, as well as the previously mentioned virtual cockpit display. Sports seats are included as part of that price too, along with RS’s bespoke braking system and a full satellite navigation system.
You have to admit that the RS3 is a smart looking thing. Understated yet performance orientated enough to be a true RS, it’s a very well-judged car.
The RS3 is a car whose very nature is dominated by performance figures. However, it’s far more than that. Impeccably well-suited to the UK market, it’s a car which can return almost anything you can throw at it.
Audi RS3 Sportback Facts at a Glance:
Take a closer look by using our interior and exterior tours
Terms and Conditions: *At the end of the agreement there are three options: i) pay the optional final payment and own the vehicle; ii) return the vehicle: subject to excess mileage and fair wear and tear, charges may apply; or iii) replace: part exchange the vehicle.
With Solutions Personal Contract Plan. Available on stock vehicles only. 18s+. Subject to availability and status. T&Cs apply. Offer available when ordered by 02/01/2019 from participating Centres. Indemnities may be required. Offers are not available in conjunction with any other offer and may be varied or withdrawn at any time. Accurate at time of publication [October 2018]. Freepost Audi Financial Services.