Audis latest addition to the RS family is the swan song of the current A3 range, which has been around since 2003. So what’s all the fuss about? Well, for starters a 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbocharged mill, the same one in fact that’s used by the TT RS, has been shoehorned into the engine bay with spine-twisting results. Cranking out 250kw and 450nm, the RS3 is the fastest production hatchback in the world. In fact, it’s as quick as an R8 V8 out of the blocks reaching 100km/h from standstill in 4.6 seconds flat – guaranteed using launch control. All 450Nm come into play from as low down as 1600rpm and remain steady all the way until 5300rpm where it gradually starts to drop off. Punch the go-faster pedal in any gear and the back of your head will meet the headrest with alarming force. The seven-speed dual-clutch S-tronic gearbox swaps cogs with alacrity no matter which mode you’ve selected. The steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters are fun and easy-to-use especially when you’ve selected manual mode. Unlike other auto-boxes with manual function, the S-tronic manual mode won’t kick over unless you physically click the paddle.
The RS3 is a versatile performer, and, although many owners will use it exclusively as a daily driver it performs well at the track, too. The Quattro permanent all wheel-drive system ensures high levels of grip, even at the limit, but turn into a corner too aggressively and it will understeer. Still, not at any point will you feel out of your depth – the ESP does very well to intervene when things get a little hairy by shuffling torque between the front and rear axle. Unfortunately, there isn’t a fancy sport differential like in the RS5 so the tail isn’t going to freely move around. One thing I did notice though is that the brakes do fade quite noticeably especially after excessive use at the track.
Aesthetically, the styling is a little too discreet for my liking. The front bumper boasts twin air intakes and new front wings while a spoiler, 19-inch wheels and a gloss-black diffuser make up the balance. The ageing interior has been freshened up with piano-black inlays, a sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel and optional Recaro bucket seats.
Before I forget, there’s also a ‘Sport’ button that opens a flap in the exhaust system to beef up the engine tone. The soundtrack is still nowhere as throaty as the one found in the TT RS but is more sonorous than the regular S3.
Compared to it’s rivals, the Cayman R and BMW 1m Coupe, the driving experience does lack a certain degree of involvement – almost as if the car is driving itself but foibles aside it’s still bloody fast.
Is it a bargain? Well at R525 000 you can’t buy anything else that offers as much power and utility. The five-door arrangement is a bonus, too. Many will argue that it’s a glorified A3 but it’s furiously fast and that’s why all 54 units are spoken for.
Engine: 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo
Power: 250kW and 450Nm
0-100km/h: 4.6 seconds
Top speed: 250km/h
Price: R525 000