What is it?
Audi’s latest RS model, the Audi RS3 Sportback, deliveries of which have just begun in the UK, and in which we’re taking our first UK drive.
Although there have been some memorable high points, the recent form of Audi’s performance tuning department Quattro GmbH has been a touch inconsistent. After the deeply impressive R8 sports car and the ‘B7’ RS4 of 2006, it gave us the mighty but less brilliant RS6 in 2008, and the even less brilliant TT-RS in 2009. It showed considerable improvement with the RS5 last year, of course. So is Audi’s go-faster department still on an upwards curve?
What’s it like?
Based exclusively on the A3 five-door’s ‘Sportback’ bodystyle, the Audi RS3 is powered by the TT-RS’ 2.5-litre five-pot engine, which produces a Focus RS-bashing 335bhp. That power is transmitted to the tarmac via a standard seven-speed S-tronic twin clutch gearbox and a Haldex electronically controlled, wet clutch driven four-wheel drive system.
The RS3 rides 25mm lower than a standard A3, and gets stiffer springs, dampers and anti-roll bars, as well as sizable-looking 370mm front disc brakes. Alloys are 19-inch, shod with 235-profile Continental ContiSport tyres. Elsewhere, as a gesture towards weight-saving, Quattro GmbH have replaced the standard A3 Sportback’s steel front wings with equivalents made out of carbonfibre-reinforced plastic. They certainly needed to do something: even after the lightweight panels, this car weighs 120kg more than a similarly equipped 2.0-litre turbo A3 Sportback.