RE: Audi RS3 Sportback: Driven

RE: Audi RS3 Sportback: Driven

Tuesday 21st May

Audi RS3 Sportback: Driven

400hp RS3 remains a distance-shrinking super-hatch even with the imposition of a WLTP filter



This is the facelifted Audi RS3. No joke. It’s obviously a light update, but one that comes with the significant addition of one of those onerous, back pressure-boosting particulate filters required to meet the current Euro 6b requirements. We say significant because their fitment in performance engines tends to mean reduced power outputs; see the Golf R and even S models from Audi’s own range for examples. Yet when it comes to the 2019 RS3, Audi Sport’s engineers claim to have clawed back every last horsepower and pound foot of torque from its characterful five-pot regardless of WLTP. 

The firm quotes 400hp and 354lb ft of torque for the refreshed car, as before, as well as an unchanged 4.1 second 0-62mph time. But take a closer look at the specs sheet and you’ll see that peak twist now arrives from 1,950rpm – which is 250rpm later than it did before. And the eagle-eyed may also notice that the Sportback has gained 20kg, at least some of which can be accounted for by the extra hardware clamped to its exhaust downpipe, bringing the total kerb weight up to 1,530kg. Small alterations, but ones with potentially noticeable results. 

Audi is happy to admit that the five-pot motor under the RS3’s snout is the car’s USP among similarly-rapid four-cylinder rivals, but in order to appease buyers further, the updated car has been given a few aesthetic tweaks and extra standard kit. There are new 19-inch wheels, standard LED headlights and Nappa leather inside, as well as wireless phone charging. There’s also a new Sport Edition pack (which costs four grand more but, significantly, only equates to £50 extra a month once residuals are factored into PCPs) that adds popular UK options such as black trim, ‘Blade’ alloys and a panoramic sunroof, as well as the more vocal RS sports exhaust and slimmer-fitting sports seats.


That so many details of the RS3’s cabin feel somewhat dated speaks volumes for the pace of change in the automotive industry these days. The screen atop the dash looks tiny, while the climate control knobs that sit beneath it – as refreshingly simple as they are to use – are clearly from a previous generation of Audi architecture, as are the buttons on the transmission tunnel. The 12.3-inch instrument cluster is the dash’s saving grace as its operating system is bang up to date, meaning it’s among the very best examples available. But now most VW Group cars get their own version, it’s no longer a segment USP.

The five-cylinder under the bonnet is, however – and from the very instant it fires up. We drove a Sportback with the optional RS exhaust, which adds bass to the warble, and which remains as evocative as ever no matter the filter upstream. It transitions from deep bottom end to digital crescendo that’s not a world away the R8’s battle cry. The motor pulls so enthusiastically all the way past 7,000rpm that it’s easy to send it banging into a hard limiter if you don’t glance at the rev counter. There’s just no drop-off in power to cue you into fatigue; it genuinely feels like the unit could spin beyond 8,000rpm with its momentum. It remains a wonderful example of German engineering.

Do you notice the ever-so-slightly slimmer peak torque window when you’re on it? On a few occasions during our Scottish Highlands test route, where the seven-speed DSG ‘box was in a high gear at 1,700rpm or so, perhaps it does feel a little hesitant - but that’s always been the case with Audi’s inline five, it’s a motor that needs working. If the altered torque curve has slightly emphasised this aspect, then it’s only on a negligible scale - and is only likely to needle you if you’re in the position of demanding grunt unexpectedly and in too high a gear. As before, dropping two cogs and pinning the throttle against the bulkhead solves the issue fairly rapidly. 


We’d be lying if we said the extra 20kg added to the RS3’s underside was noticeable on greasy Scottish tarmac, with the passive dampers doing a relatively decent job of soaking up trouble while keeping the body tensely in check. Previous experience suggests that Audi’s optional adaptive dampers extend the ride’s parameters sufficiently enough to justify their selection, but the standard setup is not among the harshest you’ll find among very fast hatchbacks.

It tends to be on consecutive bends that the RS3’s best and worst handling traits come to the fore. On the one hand, it’s remarkably composed and predictable, pushing into gentle understeer for a tenth before biting and changing direction with such reserves of grip that even a suicidally heavy right foot won’t unstick it. Its clutch-controlled Quattro all-wheel drive system is extremely effective in building confidence; but it doesn’t concern itself enough with building excitement at the same time. So on the other hand, you revel in the ferocity of the five-pot - and even marvel at the ease at which its fury is being applied to the ground - but that’s about it for entertainment. 

Business as usual, then. Which, from Audi’s point of view, ought to mean that WLTP-satisfying RS3 ought to continue selling strongly. Apparently its buyers tend to acquire their cars with with low deposits and high monthly PCP payments, and will likely chop it in for another car in 12 months - which rather suits the wham-bam nature of the model. Anyone hoping for a deeper, more meaningful connection with their hot hatch will search in vain at the RS3’s steering wheel. But for anyone after the best combination of engine and packaging, there’s still no need to look further. 


SPECIFICATIONS – AUDI RS3SPORTBACK
Engine:
2,480cc, 5-cylinder turbocharged
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, Quattro all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 400@5,850 - 7,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 354@1,950-5,850rpm
0-62mph: 4.1sec
Top speed: 155mph (or 174mph derestricted)
Weight: 1,530kg
MPG: 34
CO2: 194g/km
Price: £46,285












Author
Discussion

mrclav

Original Poster:

793 posts

165 months

Tuesday 21st May
quotequote all
I do still have a soft spot for these even if I know an M2 is probably the better drivers choice...

sleepera6

4,665 posts

39 months

Tuesday 21st May
quotequote all
mrclav said:
I do still have a soft spot for these even if I know an M2 is probably the better drivers choice...
+1.

An S3 is probably better day to day, but an RS3 on full chat is porn.

MrC986

2,339 posts

133 months

Tuesday 21st May
quotequote all
sleepera6 said:
+1.

An S3 is probably better day to day, but an RS3 on full chat is porn.
I hear an RS3 being driven along country lanes most days when I’m out & about. The noise is surely one of the best to come from a family sized car. It’s a pity it’s one of the cars favoured by the criminal fraternity though.

Gio G

2,039 posts

151 months

Tuesday 21st May
quotequote all
Performance figures look a tad conservative for me..

G

Brian Fallon

19 posts

13 months

Tuesday 21st May
quotequote all
I wish Audi offered a 3 door version of the RS3. That would be the perfect high performance hatch.
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Court_S

762 posts

119 months

Tuesday 21st May
quotequote all
I think the saloon is a much better looking car than the sportback. They make a fab noise though and it sounds like that hasn’t been affected, something BMW failed with on the M140.

C.MW

132 posts

11 months

Tuesday 21st May
quotequote all
The grey shade only makes what is already a bland looking car even more so.

1974foggy

173 posts

86 months

Tuesday 21st May
quotequote all
Shame some of the people that drive them are such witnits, and those that dont have the means but want one might club you to death for it!
But a great sounding engine.

SidewaysSi

5,349 posts

176 months

Tuesday 21st May
quotequote all
Why bother reviewing these cars as you can cut and paste from the dawn of time?! Fast, dull and has zero appeal for anyone who enjoys driving.

For me, a truly hateful POS.

Tiggsy

9,764 posts

194 months

Tuesday 21st May
quotequote all
SidewaysSi said:
Why bother reviewing these cars as you can cut and paste from the dawn of time?! Fast, dull and has zero appeal for anyone who enjoys driving.

For me, a truly hateful POS.
Test drove one before picking an A45 - the Audi was like driving an Xbox game. Clearly very quick, and easy to go quick.....but man was it boring. Zero sense of anything remotely emotional. In contrast the Merc was nuts (it was also a one trick pony that I got bored of in a week....but it was certainly more exciting than the RS3 - which I wanted to love)

AmosMoses

3,243 posts

107 months

Tuesday 21st May
quotequote all
Ram-raiding a cash and carry near you soon, its the facelift RS3!

TomTVR500

230 posts

103 months

Tuesday 21st May
quotequote all
By far the most notable change with this face-lifted version is the fitment of some half decent looking alloy wheels! Those 5 spoke rotor style alloys were always APPALLING!
Otherwise a very appealing car. Not the most exciting but they go like the wind, look great inside and out and they make one hell of a noise!!

Augustus Windsock

1,702 posts

97 months

Tuesday 21st May
quotequote all
“...slimmer-fitting Sports seats.”
Are they seats for snake-hipped people then?
I’m presuming the scribe meant seats that are thinner in their architecture rather than ones that preclude anyone over a size 8 or that comfortably fits into Hollister size ‘S’ men’s shirt settling in them...

Frimley111R

9,679 posts

176 months

Tuesday 21st May
quotequote all
Tiggsy said:
SidewaysSi said:
Why bother reviewing these cars as you can cut and paste from the dawn of time?! Fast, dull and has zero appeal for anyone who enjoys driving.

For me, a truly hateful POS.
Test drove one before picking an A45 - the Audi was like driving an Xbox game. Clearly very quick, and easy to go quick.....but man was it boring. Zero sense of anything remotely emotional. In contrast the Merc was nuts (it was also a one trick pony that I got bored of in a week....but it was certainly more exciting than the RS3 - which I wanted to love)
Agree, I have one I am looking after and drove it last night. It's fast and lovely inside but 100% agree that it's cripplingly dull otherwise. If they excelled at anything its making a very fast 5 cylinder car duller than you could possibly imagine.

Composite Guru

1,831 posts

145 months

Tuesday 21st May
quotequote all
Frimley111R said:
Tiggsy said:
SidewaysSi said:
Why bother reviewing these cars as you can cut and paste from the dawn of time?! Fast, dull and has zero appeal for anyone who enjoys driving.

For me, a truly hateful POS.
Test drove one before picking an A45 - the Audi was like driving an Xbox game. Clearly very quick, and easy to go quick.....but man was it boring. Zero sense of anything remotely emotional. In contrast the Merc was nuts (it was also a one trick pony that I got bored of in a week....but it was certainly more exciting than the RS3 - which I wanted to love)
Agree, I have one I am looking after and drove it last night. It's fast and lovely inside but 100% agree that it's cripplingly dull otherwise. If they excelled at anything its making a very fast 5 cylinder car duller than you could possibly imagine.
Nice to see people actually noticing a trend with these new performance cars.
Its all good having loads of power but when its not connected to anything exciting due to it doing everything for you then what's the point.



Vocht

1,324 posts

106 months

Tuesday 21st May
quotequote all
These certainly are not boring when being pushed hard, it's just that their limits are so high that they rarely get in that zone. Although that is arguably the case for most performance cars today.

A few relatively low cost modifications such as secondary cat deletes bring these to life and make even slower speeds more fun. Then there's the obvious remapping which sees these easily achieve 440+ BHP which is definitely not boring either!

As for the 'slim' sports seats, I'm a very very powerfully built company director and find them hugely comfortable.

SidewaysSi

5,349 posts

176 months

Tuesday 21st May
quotequote all
Vocht said:
These certainly are not boring when being pushed hard, it's just that their limits are so high that they rarely get in that zone. Although that is arguably the case for most performance cars today.

A few relatively low cost modifications such as secondary cat deletes bring these to life and make even slower speeds more fun. Then there's the obvious remapping which sees these easily achieve 440+ BHP which is definitely not boring either!

All you talked about was extracting more power...;)

Which of course is all that matters to owners. And to those who steal them...

Composite Guru

1,831 posts

145 months

Tuesday 21st May
quotequote all
SidewaysSi said:
Vocht said:
These certainly are not boring when being pushed hard, it's just that their limits are so high that they rarely get in that zone. Although that is arguably the case for most performance cars today.

A few relatively low cost modifications such as secondary cat deletes bring these to life and make even slower speeds more fun. Then there's the obvious remapping which sees these easily achieve 440+ BHP which is definitely not boring either!

All you talked about was extracting more power...;)

Which of course is all that matters to owners. And to those who steal them...
Seems to be a natural thing nowadays, its all about willy waving. All people care about is bhp. Forget if the car is fun to drive or not.

big_rob_sydney

2,327 posts

136 months

Tuesday 21st May
quotequote all
In a way, these cars to me are spiritual successors to rally cars. I loved the days of the Subaru and Mitsubishi rivalry, yet they have lost their way in recent times, which is a shame.

You have to almost feel sorry for Audi in this case; their car is quick, modern, and relatively fuel efficient, yet doesn't get the love because apparently it's "boring" to drive.

janesmith1950

3,109 posts

37 months

Tuesday 21st May
quotequote all
Humans tend to emotionally invest around flaws. When something had no flaws, it's often met with a shrug.

Objectively the Audi is as cool as you like, but subjectively it's just a fast car that does everything ok.

You'd probably have more fun in a Trabant.