The new Audi RS 3 raises the bar for performance in the so-called “hot hatch” club, of which it is undoubtedly a candidate for president. In its presence, the S3, with its 310 HP, looks almost like a lamb, since there are 90 more here. In any case, the power does not change compared to the previous generation, but everything else does, starting with the quattro all-wheel drive. The key component of the new scheme is called Torque Splitter and is able to actively distribute the torque between the rear wheels and in a totally variable way, defining oversteer behavior, even in excess if necessary. This is because the rear differential uses two electro-hydraulic multi-plate clutches: one for each semi-axle at the rear: when cornering, the system distributes the thrust between the rear wheels, favoring the external one, which has the greatest grip. In other words, with the new Audi you can perform perfect drifts, especially by selecting the dedicated mode.
In addition, the driving dynamics control allows you to choose from seven programs, three of which are completely new. The new RS Individual, RS Performance and RS Torque Rear setups (the one for drifting) are added to the comfort, auto, dynamic and efficiency modes. Speaking of numbers, the RS 3 puts on the plate the 400 HP and 500 Nm of its 2.5-liter 5-cylinder turbofan, which by architecture immediately refers to the successes in motorsport of the Eighties. Thus, thanks also to the speed of the 7-speed double clutch transmission, the compact Audi can sprint from 0 to 100 km / h in 3.8 seconds and then fly up to 290 km / h. To reach them, however, you need to add the RS dynamic plus package which costs 7,850 euros and brings with it the speed limiter, active suspension and the braking system with carbon-ceramic front discs, while normally there are steel ones with six-piston monobloc calipers. Progressive steering with variable reduction and power assistance, on the other hand, is standard.
With these characteristics, it is not surprising that the RS 3 in Sedan version – 4-door sedan – set the new category record on the Nürburgring circuit, lowering the best time by 4.64 seconds for a total of 7’40 “748. What the chronometric result does not tell is the driving feeling of the RS 3, which is rather peculiar. Very filtered sensations come from the steering wheel, even too much for a car that is capable of generating impressive grip between curves. The engine, on the other hand, needs to take a breath before spinning the large turbine that is unleashed starting at 3,000 rpm. You need a very clean insertion, bringing the braking almost to the point of the rope to maintain the directionality of the front axle and at the same time lighten the rear axle that helps the car to turn, after which you can step on the gas and let the quattro drive work to get shot out of the curve like a slingshot, but as long as you’ve selected the right gear.
In this way the RS 3 gives its best, the straights become incredibly short and when it is time to detach the composite system it gives very common decelerations. This powerful braking comes in handy not only when driving with a knife between your teeth on a mountain road, but also when looking for the speedometer full scale. An exercise that can only be performed best in the legendary German autobahns, where you can give vent to all the anger of the “5 in line”. The maximum speed is normally limited to 250 km / h, but with the usual optional package the limiter is set to 290 km / h, which is a record value for a production car with this body. Inside, the atmosphere is racing: the sports seats have integrated headrests and contrast stitching, the steering wheel has a flattened lower part of the crown, the notch at 12 o’clock and the RS Mode button. All this with prices starting at 60,900 euros for the Sportback body, but by adding the performance pack and some small customization they easily go up to over 70,000 euros.
Audi RS 3 Sportback, the card
What is that: the sportier and more performing version of the fourth generation of the Audi A3
Dimensions: length 4.39 meters, width 1.85 m height 1.44 m, pitch 2.63 m
Trunk: 282 liters
Motor: 2.5 liter 5-cylinder turbo petrol, 400 HP at 5,600 rpm and 500 Nm at 2,500 rpm
Exchange: automatic 7-speed double clutch
Traction: whole wheat
Advantages: performance, driving pleasure, finishes, technology on board
Defects: not very sensitive steering, standard equipment to be completed
Production: Ingolstadt, Germany
Prices: The list prices of the RS 3 Sportback start at € 60,900, but there is also the 4-door Sedan version that starts at € 64,000