Audi RS3 - ballistic hatch

By: Mark Higgins, Unique Cars magazine

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Audi's compact hatch delivers big car numbers

Four hundred horsepower. That was a figure reserved for supercars not long ago but is now yours in five-door hatchback. This one in fact; the Audi RS3.

But the stratospheric power of the 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo that dates back to the insanely fast Audi Group B rally car of the early 1980s is just one element of the latest RS3 Superhatch.

Sitting behind the Alcantara-wrapped D-shape steering wheel in the cossetting sports seat, hit the start button, the engine barks into life and the RS3 Superhatch instantly becomes riveting.

The seven-speed auto and quattro driveline ensure every one of its 294 kilowatts are employed to rocket the RS3 Superhatch to 100km/h in 4.1 seconds and onto its maximum velocity of 280 km/h. It whips through corners like a slot car, stops in a heartbeat, while doing so in utter refinement and luxury and it's one of the very rare cars you use any excuse to take for a spin, anywhere, at any time. 

Optimising the driving experience is the selectable multi-drive modes that collude with the quattro system, sport suspension and magnetic ride to give you everything from mild to wild to play with. In Dynamic mode where it lived most of the time, more drive is sent to the rear wheels for better balance and cornering, though I admit to slipping it into 'Comfort' on one long highway cruise.

But it was the RS3s cornering talents that had me grinning like a Cheshire cat.

Although the roads were lumpy at times the RS 3 swept through corners as if it was painted to the road. Its blinding cornering speed, along with its agility, directional changes and stopping capability are simply breathtaking.

To park this four-ring slingshot in your shed will set you back $83,800 and you will be joining an exclusive club, with Australia being the fourth biggest buyers of RS vehicles on the planet.

While it is full of fire and brimstone, at a glance the RS3 passes as a Clark Kent Audi hatch with a set of bigger alloys. It's not draped in cartoonish wings or chalkboard colours.

A closer inspection reveals a 25mm lower ride height and a wider track. Other exclusive design cues are the single-frame grille nestling between piercing LED headlights, guard-filling 19-inch alloy wheels inside a set of low profile Pirelli’s and behind them, huge brake discs with big black brake callipers. Then there's the drainpipe exhausts poking out through a diffuser, a discreet rooftop spoiler and a pronounced chin spoiler with  ‘Quattro’ embedded on it.

The interior is superbly crafted and well appointed. In addition to the soft leather body-hugging quilted sports seats, the multi-button flat-bottom tiller houses the aluminium shift paddles and for effortless motoring there's adaptive cruise control. It also comes with dual zone aircon with rear vents, auto wipers and lights, an auto-dimming mirror, heated front seats and traces of aluminium and carbon garnish in the reasonably roomy cabin.

The low slung driving position sits you in front of Audi's customisable 12.3-inch digital virtual cockpit. I set it to Dynamic mode to give it a Porsche-like central tacho with a digital speedo inside it and to the side, Power, Torque and G-sensor gauges.

Popping out of the central dash is a multi-media infotainment screen housing phone and music streaming, DAB+ digital radio, a reversing camera, in-car Wi-Fi hotspot, sat nav and a bunch of apps that are driven by console dial.

To keep your enthusiasm and level of talent in check, the RS 3 is full of advanced driver assist tech like like active side assist and lane assist, autonomous emergency braking, ABS, traction and stability controls, hill hold and rear cross traffic and much more, giving it a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.

So whether want a plaything or simply a daily driver with loads of pizazz, practicality and personality, the Audi RS3 Superhatch ticks all the boxes.

 

Vital Stats

Audi RS 3 Sportback

Body 5-door hatch

Engine 2.5-litre TFSI five-cylinder turbo

Power & Torque 294kW / 480Nm

Performance 0-100km/h – 4.1sec

Top Speed- 280 km/h

Transmission 7-speed dual-clutch auto 

Suspension

Front- MacPherson strut with lower steel wishbones

Rear- Four-link independent

Brakes Front and rear discs

Wheels 19 inch

Price $83,800

 

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