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06 May 2022

What We Dislike
Bang and Olufsen sound system needs improvement

Looking for something to get away from the monotony of the work week? This Audi RS3 Sportback, with its eye-catching design and riotous drivetrain, could be just what you're looking for.


It's the 23rd of April 2022. Capacity restrictions in the office have just been lifted, and the prospect of a return to the five-day work week is looming large in my mind. That's five consecutive days of waking up early, jostling for space on the bus, updating sgCarMart.com, sending out reports, and then taking the same crowded bus back home, to be repeated again every week from here on out.

I should be dreading the week as it passes along. But I am instead filled with dizzying anticipation as the days pass, for this is also the week in which I shall be collecting from Audi a little toy with which to break the monotony of the week.

A downright riotous little toy

The storied 2.5-litre five-cylinder delivers plenty of aural drama alongside a mighty 394bhp
Three days later and Wednesday finally swings around, granting me my first chance to lay my eyes on my little toy. This, is the Audi RS3 Sportback. And just as I was hoping, it is not subtle in any way about telegraphing its playful nature.

To start, it comes in a bright Python Yellow Metallic, which turns heads everywhere I drive. Then there are those head lights, which display the characters 'R','S',and '3' in quick sequence as part of their welcome animation - a childish yet inexplicably appealing touch. And when you open the doors, there's a massive 'RS' symbol projected onto the ground, telling you all you need to know about this car's bold and unashamed nature, before you even step in.

But I do so, and find the extroverted design touches continue to run amok here. The press car is specified with the RS Styling package Plus, which adds a bright red accent piece that runs across the length of the air-conditioning vents, alongside sport seats that feature red shoulders and similarly red banded seatbelts.

A geometric dashboard design places all the switchgear exactly where you'd expect them to be
I look past the bold styling and sit within the Audi RS3 for a while, reveling in the fact that despite all the flamboyance, it is a mighty comfortable place to sit in.

The sport seats here offer both a good amount of support and are generously padded, feeling like the sort of place I could find myself resting my back and bum upon for hours on end. And then there's the geometric layout of the dashboard, which locates all the necessary controls and switchgear exactly where I expect them to be.

A proper pocket rocket

But press down on the engine start button (also sporting a red surrounding band) and there's more entertainment to be had from this little toy.

Opt for the RS Styling package Plus and you'll get sports seats with red shoulders, alongside seatbelts with red accents
Powering this little hatch is Audi's hallowed 2.5-litre five-cylinder, here pushing out a massive 394bhp and 500Nm. And, raising the performance ante further is a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, alongside a new all-wheel drive system that is able to optimise torque distribution across all four wheels of the car courtesy of an 'RS torque splitter'.

Audi states this RS3 will crack the century sprint in just 3.8 seconds, and from behind the helm it certainly feels every bit as fast the figure suggests. I drive the Audi RS3 in its 'Dynamic' setting and it rewards, pulling strongly from low down in the rev range and frantically up top, coupled with urgent throttle response and snappy gearshifts. It's fast. Frighteningly fast.

Internally ventilated and drilled 375mm x 36mm discs at the front offer loads of stopping power
And there's also mighty fine handling to boot here. Bolting down a few twisty sections around Changi Village, I find the all-wheel drive system offers up balanced handling through corners alongside high grip levels, both of which pair with the strong brakes to give you the confidence to carry unreal speeds through sweeping bends and into tight corners alike.

A getaway for every day

But the abilities of the Audi RS3 don't just end at offering me blistering pace, it's also a mighty versatile machine.

Driven in its 'Comfort' setting, the dampers ease off enough to allow the Audi RS3 to shield me away from any unwanted body movement resulting from poor tarmac, and the exhaust quietens down just a touch, allowing the car to also serve duty as a mile-munching machine with considerable proficiency.

This carbon roof spoiler can be yours from $8,109
Sure, there's some noticeable turbo lag and the gearbox is not as smart in this setting, taking a split second to complete downshifts, but I think this just adds to the sheer sensation of speed offered whenever you put your foot down, as you get to hear the five-cylinder revving right before you're launched, slingshot-like down the road.

So, do I have any complaints with the Audi RS3? Yes, actually. That Bang and Olufsen sound system delivers neither the bassy baritone nor the clarity I was expecting of a premium sound system to start, and there's the fact that you'll have to pay a fair bit to get your RS3 looking exactly as you want it.

That aforementioned RS Styling package Plus, for example, will set you back $982, and to get the same rims as those you see in the pictures here? That's a $2,951 option. 

If it is a weekend plaything you're shopping for, this Audi RS3 delivers all the thrills you could want
That carbon fibre roof spoiler meanwhile, will set you back $8,109, while those carbon fibre side mirrors will cost you $2,678. I'll need to spend many days at work sending in many reports just to be able to think about affording all these extra pieces alone.

It's a good thing then, that the car comes with a starting price of $363,075, undercutting its closest rival, the Mercedes-AMG A45 S 4Matic, which is asking for $381,88 (all prices as of 2 May 2022). Of course, that AMG still delivers more horses, but this Audi 2.5-litre powerplant has a far more storied lineage, and a mighty soundtrack to boot, factors which, if you're looking for a toy with which to get away from the arduous work week, I think ought to matter more.


Shopping for a hot hatch? There's also these options to consider:

The BMW M135i xDrive also has handling that inspires high confidence, and comes with a mighty premium cabin

The Volkswagen Golf GTI also has plenty of power and a high-tech cabin

And there's also the Cupra Leon to consider, with its flamboyant design and punchy 2.0-litre engine

Or perhaps the Hyundai i30 N, with its roudy exhaust and precise handling, is more up your alley?

Car Information

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Audi RS 3 Sportback 2.5 TFSI qu S tronic (A)
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Price

: $363,075

Engine Type

:

5-cylinder in-line 20-valve Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

2480cc

Horsepower

:

294kW (394 bhp) / 7000 rpm

Torque

:

500 Nm / 5600 rpm

Transmission

:

7-speed (A) S tronic

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

3.8sec

Top Speed

:

250km/h

Fuel consumption

:

10.2km/L

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