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07 May 2022

What We Dislike
Would have been a perfect all-rounder if it had more boot space

With the RS3 Sedan, you'll get what's expected of a premium compact sedan, along with astounding power, razor-sharp handling and neck-breaking attention from whoever you drive by.


With plenty of videos and information of sub nine-second quarter mile records and low two seconds century sprints with modified five-cylinder Audi cars, it is safe to assume that mind-bending speeds on the straights is what they are good for. When I heard that I would be driving the new Audi RS3, equipped with the five-cylinder turbocharged engine at its launch event, I was naturally expecting a demonstration of its sheer power and ability to accelerate, but it turned out to be quite different than expected.

This time round, I had the chance to drive the RS3 for a good three days, and it confirmed my suspicion. The latest RS3 is an entirely different beast to its predecessor, which according to most accounts, was much more comfortable going straight than making turns.

The new RS3 turns in phenomenally!

The five-cylinder engine in the RS3 is credited for its potent performance, but often blamed for causing it to understeer
A quick search online and you'll find countless posts mentioning Audi and understeer in the same sentence, and the previous RS3 was one of the examples that's always cited.

Many have faulted such behaviour on the hefty 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine sitting on the front axle, along with an all-wheel drive system that is prone to understeer.

The latest RS3 has been concocted with the same recipe, albeit with a dash of secret spice in the form of the RS torque splitter, an electronically controlled contraption of multiple discs clutches on each of the rear drive shafts to allow a fully variable torque distribution. According to Audi, this allows the car to send more torque to the outer rear wheel during dynamic driving to significantly reduce understeer, and is also the technology that makes the RS Torque Rear 'drift mode' possible.

Audi's engineers managed to remove every hint of understeer with the RS torque splitter on this iteration
While all that technical jargon might sound a little confusing, I can assure you that it works wonders. Take the RS3 for a spin on the twisty back roads and you'll notice everything upon reaching the first corner.

The way it darts into the bend is something you'll expect from a lightweight rear-wheel drive machine, not a sub 1.6-ton all-wheel drive sedan. And then as you exit the turn, you'll notice how well the car holds its line even with copious amount of throttle just as you pass the apex.

An absolute beast on the straights

I know what you are thinking, "How powerful can it be when you are able to mash the throttle during a turn". Well, how does 395bhp and 500Nm of torque sound like? Like a bat out of hell, I say.

The RS3 launches to 100km/h in just 3.8 seconds, while producing all the right noises
The spec sheet says the RS3 goes from zero to 100km/h in 3.8 seconds (who says you need an electric car for the ludicrous acceleration experience). 

It also says that peak power is produced between 5,600 and 7,000rpm, which is a tad later than expected, considering the 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine should provide a fair bit of low end grunt. While this isn't an issue when driving hard - in dynamic and the RS modes, the gear selection keeps the revs high - it does result in a less than sprightly drive in the efficiency and comfort modes.

Race car for the streets

Inside, you'll get to enjoy every creature comfort as expected of a premium Audi
But, that might not necessarily be a bad thing. Despite its eye-watering power and cornering prowess, the RS3 proves to be a great daily driver - apart from its rather thirsty fuel consumption of around 8km/L in urban driving conditions.

Inside, passengers are pampered by the plush nappa-leather upholstered seats with plenty of RS-specific design elements. Even the sports seats up front aren't too restrictive despite offering elevated levels of support during aggressive driving.

As a top-of-the-line offering, the level of equipment is as expected - the feature-packed infotainment system blasts out clear tunes through a 15-speaker Bang & Olufsen premium sound system.

Drive it normally and your passengers won't even realise that they are sitting in a track-ready performance sedan
Of course, the driver also gets a full suite of driver assist systems to make day-to-day driving a breeze.

Driven gently, with the fully variable exhaust set to its softest setting, there isn't much to hint of the RS3's hardcore performance other than the stiff but composed ride.

Flamboyance is the order of the day

With some self-restraint, it is entirely possible to pass the RS3 off as yet another premium sedan to an unknowing passenger. Though you will have to blindfold them as you lead them into the car, as there's no way one could miss all the RS-specific features on the exterior.

Dressed in the bright RS-specific Kyalami Green, the RS3's aggressive design commands the attention of everyone who lays eyes on it
Walking towards this RS3, you'll instantly notice the retina-searing RS-specific Kyalami Green that it has been painted in.

As your eyes adjust to the bright-green beast, you'll then notice the details that set it apart from the others, starting with the aggressive front bumper and its large Singleframe grille that reminds of the e-tron GT, followed by the massive air intakes at the sides. Then, you'll notice the widened front wheel arches with an air vent that almost looks aftermarket.

At this point, you'll realise, it isn't just the design of the body panels that creates the air of aggression - there's no mistake, not only does the RS3 sit lower than the typical A3 that it is based upon, it also features wider front and rear track that adds to stability, while completing the imposing stance of a high-performance sedan.

As though the bright colour and shouty design isn't enough, the head light even displays the letters R,S and 3 when you unlock the car
Go around to the back of the RS3, and it's all mean business as expected. The RS-specific rear bumper features a built-in diffuser with two large oval tailpipes - the source of all that sonorous V10-esque soundtrack.

Now, head back to the front and unlock the RS3, and you'll be greeted by one of the fanciest light show I've ever seen - the Matrix LED head light displays the letters 'R', 'S' and '3' in sequence, serving as a flamboyant welcome, hinting at the truly special driving experience that awaits you.

And it is special. True to tradition, the latest RS3 goes like hell in a straight line. But this time, with the way the engineers have managed to sharpen and amplify the car's dynamic capabilities (thanks in large part to the RS torque splitter), naysayers will have a hard time to find something to pick on. 
 
 
Looking for a performance sedan? Here are some other options you may want to consider:

Making the case for the 4 Series Gran Coupe

The Skoda Octavia RS is the perfect cruiser

The Audi S3 Sedan is a jack of all trades

Kia Stinger is a tarmac dancer with its V6 engine

The new BMW M3 delivers precise performance

Car Information

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

: $374,395

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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