Audi RS 3 Sportback Review | Race Car Performance in a Hatchback Body
The series of updates and refinements to the new 2018 Audi RS 3 Sportback have been made with only one thing in mind, delivering the most exhilarating driving experience possible. We tested one for a couple of weeks, and fell in love pretty easily. After reluctantly giving back the keys and taking a few days to readjust to life without it, we found the time to give our thoughts on one of the best Sport Hatches on the market today.
Compared to a lot of cars that offer similar performance, the RS 3 Sportback is quite restrained in its looks, but some subtle sporty design elements give an indication of the power under the hood. The rear of the car features a pretty standard hatchback boot, yet below you’ll find the enormous, chrome exhaust pipes that let out a raspy bark the moment the engine is switched on. From the side, you would be forgiven for assuming it’s a standard four-door compact people mover. That is until the bold contours draw your attention to the 19″ alloys with fire red painted carbon brake pads. While the front features Audi’s single-frame honeycomb grill, with large hexagonal cut-outs for air intake.
Despite being primarily marketed as a sports car, the interior of the RS 3 Sportback is surprisingly luxurious. The motorsport-inspired racing seats offer the right amount of hug, and are covered in Nappa leather with a distinctive diamond pattern stitched in – exclusive to the RS series. The all-black interior is contrasted by silverstitching, chrome accents on the controls, and carbon fibre panelling on the doors. The steering wheel looks as though it was taken straight out of a racing car, and is covered in soft Alcantara at the ten and two positions.
Audi took a unique approach to the instrument panel, replacing it with an all-digital display. This means you can move the traditional speedometer and tachometer into a variety of positions while adding panels to show different information such as engine performance, fuel consumption, phone contacts, and media controls. By far the most useful though, is the ability to fill the screen with a satellite navigation map. It’s a similar premise to the Heads Up Displays found in many other luxury cars and makes sense to have directions in an area your eyes are constantly checking while driving.
It’s clear each time you ignite the engine to a howling awakening, that Audi wants to show off their new engine to everyone within earshot. The 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine is a powerhouse, with 294kW of power and 480Nm of torque. Pair that with the lighter body-kit and the RS 3 Sportback can go from 0 to 100km/h in just 4.1 seconds.
With that kind of power, it’s no surprise that the Audi RS 3 Sportback really shines when it’s given the freedom to open up on larger stretches of road. It climbs through its seven-speed gearbox with ease, hitting peak torque levels very early in the rev counter. If that wasn’t exciting enough, Audi’s RS Sport Exhaust System has been tuned to create a loud backfire whenever the vehicle downshifts gears. We couldn’t get enough of it and if a car lover went into cardiac arrest, the excitement of that sound alone would be enough to jumpstart their heart again.
The combination of its smaller size and Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system makes handling the RS 3 Sportback an absolute breeze. First designed for implementation in rally cars, the Quattro system continuously assesses the weight distribution across all four wheels as you drive. It then sends torque to wherever it’s needed to maintain maximum grip across all driving conditions. If you do ever find yourself in an emergency braking situation, the brakes on the RS 3 Sportback have you covered. They have the right balance of sensitivity and stopping power, bringing you to a complete stop without being overly aggressive.
Audi RS 3 Sportback Review | The Wrap Up
The in-your-face engine on the Audi RS 3 Sportback doesn’t beat about the bush, and neither will we. It offers one of the most exhilarating driving experiences around. It has a quietly sporty body kit, and the interior is a perfect blend of luxury and motorsport heritage. But it’s the engine that demands the most attention. If you’re looking for a performance vehicle and your budget can extend north of $80,000 AUD, the Audi RS 3 Sportback is worth checking out. Even if it’s just to hear that sweet exhaust note.