Audi RS3 a versatile piece of cool
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AUDI’S RS3 LAUNCHES IN NEW ZEALAND NEXT MONTH BUT WE GET TO TEST IT IN BRITAIN
There’s nothing like the sharp crackle from a pair of high-bred sports exhausts to shake up a suburban street — unless it’s the sight of this sharply etched thoroughbred among the sensible wagons and hatches lining these British kerbs.
Audi’s RS3 might be a capable city-slicker, but the soundtrack, and its lines, suggest more sporting pursuits.
Earlier RS3s were a little too unyielding for everyday running. Audi had promised a better balance, though that’s not immediately obvious from the glossy black grille, those 19-inch wheels tucked beneath flared arches, and the gaping outlets of the sports exhausts.
The multi-plate clutch controlling the Quattro all-wheel-drive system has also been retuned, and all the torque can go to the rear wheels. Ride height is 25mm lower than the standard A3, with suspension via MacPherson strut, and adaptive dampers.
Dialling back-country swervery into the equation shows you what the car can do, peak torque arriving at 1625rpm and the RS3 accelerating hard until the power load hits at 5500rpm.
There’s no need for delicate balancing of throttle and wheel, nor even much reward for precision. You just point the wheel and feed the power on — exhilarating but not really engaging.
And that’s arguably the problem with sports Audis. They’re almost too good in the real world to be involving. While you get the excitement which going fast will give you, you lose the feeling of a true marriage of human and machine, that delicate dance between hands, seat and wheels.
The cabin doesn’t scream sportster, though the kit is there. You can tune the steering, power delivery and suspension, either together or individually; you’ll find a lap timer on the menu; the flat-bottomed Alcantara-covered wheel nestles in your hands and those sporty seats are supportive. The cabin feels roomier than expected, underlined when I fit a booster and a child seat out back, and the 280-litre boot was also better than expected — large enough to carry all my luggage.
Sports-car purists might prefer to spend the extra on a tightly focused sports car, but they’d be forgetting this car’s strength. It can catapult you through high-speed swervery with ease, and it’s capable of negotiating city streets, blitzing the school run or cruising from Auckland to Wellington with four aboard, and luggage.