Another Nurburgring lap record has been set - we know, we know. But you still have to admire it when manufacturers manage to improve engineering and technology enough to beat everything else in the market.
Especially when that record is set by something lumped into the 'compact' class, rather than hypercars or dedicated track special. That said, it is the Audi RS3, so certainly not your Dacia Sandero revving up to 77mph.
With a time of 7 mins, 40.748 sec, the RS3 Saloon beat the previous record, held by the Renault Megane R.S. Trophy-R, by 4.64 secs, with racing and development driver Frank Stippler at the wheel. (Stippler also drove for the RS Q8 record, so knows what's what around the Nordschleife). Cue, surely, the campaign for a front-wheel drive Compact class to be added, because Megane vs. RS3 does seem an uneven contest; that said it does go to show what the Trophy-R achieved with just 300hp and a pair of driven wheels. Running on Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R semi-slicks, with a slight pressure change pre-run, the 'ring record RS3 is the same as that you'll be able to buy from the showroom later this month. Although the tyres won't be offered to UK customers due to a perceived lack of demand; best get nagging you dealer if you want that perception changed.
Audi puts the success down in part to the torque splitter, being used for the first time on an Audi model, which distributes the torque between the rear wheels, controlled via a multiple disc clutch on each drive haft. The rest of the set-up includes 19-inch ceramic brakes, RS sport suspension with adaptive damper control, and RS Performance mode as part of Audi Drive Select driving modes. Under the bonnet is the RS3's 2.5-litre, five-cylinder petrol unit that kicks out 400hp and 369lb ft torque.
Audi RS3 Technical Project Leader Marvin Schwätter said, "when we started development, we didn't know just how quickly our compact sports car would really be on the Nordschleife. But over the course of endurance testing, we determined that we could reach very good times and set a new record."
The lap record comes ahead of the market release of the RS3 Saloon and the Sportback, with prices starting at £51,900 and £50,900 respectively. Is now the time for an Audi to be the darling of the Touristenfahrten crowd? We'll find out soon enough!
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