Fire-breathing Audi RS3 arrives in SA – and sedan format is a first
In Audi parlance, the RS badge signifies fire-breathing performance. The Ingolstadt automaker’s RS models are the cream of the dynamic crop, making the already rapid S-models seem, well, a little tame.
The latest additions to the Audi RS family in South Africa are RS3 Sedan and RS3 Sportback, both based on the popular A3. It’s the first time that the four-door sedan version of the A3 is offered in RS3 form, reflecting the popularity of the sleek four-door configuration.
Both cars offer identical mechanical underpinnings, starting with an all-new rendition of Audi’s now legendary five-cylinder, 2,5-litre turbo engine. In this, its latest and most powerful guise to date, the 2 480 cc mill sheds 24 kW, while pumping out a stonking 294 kW of maximum power, and 480 Nm of torque, the latter from just 1 700 rpm.
Vitally, the engine’s guttural growl – a hallmark of the five-cylinder layout – remains a sonic highlight of the new RS3 line-up, and can be further accentuated by opening the exhaust flaps via a switch on the centre console. It’s worth it – even if it’s likely to annoy your already envious neighbours.
The engine delivers its urge to all four wheels via a seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch gearbox and quattro all-wheel drive. The quattro system employed uses a Haldex multiplate clutch to divide power between the front and rear axles, depending on traction requirements.
While the split is 50:50 normally, up to 100 percent of the power can be sent to the rear axle, which should make for a more rear-biased set-up when driving with a certain amount of vigour.
At 1 515 kg, the RS3 Sedan is a mere 5 kg heavier than its RS3 Sportback sibling, with the quattro drivetrain shouldering some of the blame for the less than svelte kerb mass. Even so, the power-to-weight ratio of the two cars is around 194 kW/ton, which translates into rapid performance.
Audi claims an identical 4,1 sec 0-100 km/h sprint time for both the RS3 Sedan and RS3 Sportback, with top speed limited 250 km/h. For some extra dosh, the limiter can be shifted from 250 km/h to 280 km/h.
Visually, the two RS3 models have all the usual trimmings: gaping air intakes, muscular body kit, honeycomb grille, and a combination of gloss black and matt aluminium detailing. An aggressive front splitter and bold rear diffuser add to the athletic, performance-focussed looks. Bold 19-inch alloys shod with low-profile rubber are standard.
The equipment list is fairly comprehensive, but doesn’t include satnav, nor Audi’s ergonomically appealing Virtual Cockpit, both of which should really be included at this price point.
Talking of which, the RS3 Sportback retails for R895 500, while the RS3 Sedan is R30k more expensive at R925 500. Sales of the sedan model have already started, while the Sportback will join the fray in November.