Car Review: The Audi RS3 is worth its hefty price tag simply based on the brilliance of its engine alone

Audi RS3
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The luxury sedan’s engine has gone through a complete upgrade, leaving motor heads in awe and envy of anyone who owns one

The biggest gift Audi has given to petrolheads in the last 20 years is not the R8. No, Audi’s gift to speed freaks everywhere is the turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine that debuted on the TT RS in 2009 and in the years to follow, it would go on to grace the RS3.

What exactly is so special about this engine, you might be wondering. To which the only sane response is, what isn’t. It has charisma coming out of its tailpipes, surpassing even that of the brand’s sublime 4.2-litre V8, once used in the Audi R8 and Audi RS4.

Its raft of upgrades includes turbocharging, a hollow crankshaft, plasma-coated cylinders and aluminium pistons.

The motor in the Audi RS3 produces a thumping 400bhp and 480Nm. Paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and the traction of all-wheel-drive, the century sprint happens in 4.1 seconds.

Oddly enough, the Audi RS3 doesn’t feel quick. Not in the neck-snapping, kidney-compacting way some sports cars muster up. But simply flexing your right foot will see you squarely on the wrong side of the speed limit in no time at all.

More than its punch and tractability, of which it has plenty of, the 2.5-litre motor seems to have a bottomless supply of revs, spinning freely without any hint of turbocharged strangulation all the way to its 7,000rpm redline.

Paired with Audi’s stellar seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, it’s the motoring equivalent of Pringles, in that it just doesn’t seem to want to stop once it’s had a taste for revs. And the sounds the engine makes while getting there, well, let’s just say the Audi RS3 will more than likely lower your popularity with your neighbours.

Thankfully, a sports exhaust with flaps to quieten the fireworks is standard.

But who cares about being antisocial when the Audi RS3 is just so much fun. It has gobs of traction thanks to its all-wheel-drive (its internal G-force meter measured a peak of a scarcely believable 1.1 on street tyres) and the personality of a child fed too many sugary treats.

Not that it bounces around like one, mind you. As typical with most Audis today, the Audi RS3 has a surprisingly pliant primary ride quite at odds with its performance pedigree, though its secondary ride can get rather lumpen. But that’s a minor niggle. I want to say that the worst thing you’ll have to contend with in the R Audi RS3 is driving like a complete lunatic everywhere you go and losing your licence within the first week of taking delivery. But that’s not entirely true.

The worst thing about the Audi RS3 is its humble A3 underpinnings, evidenced by its cramped rear seats and comparatively low-rent interior, something the Nappa leather bucket seats and all-digital instruments do its best to lift.

This makes the S$316,380 Audi wants for it rather hard to swallow. To give that number some context, the RS3 Sedan is twice as expensive as a regular A3 Sedan, and the Jaguar F-Type 2.0 is roughly the same price. But if the first question you ask upon seeing the Audi RS3 Sedan is why a car this small has a price tag that large, then this definitely isn’t the car for you.

The Audi RS3 Sedan, rather, is for the sort of buyer who, right off the bat, asks things like “where do I sign", and “when can I get it delivered". In other words, it’s a car for the already converted, but I probably didn’t need to tell you that.

If that describes you, then you’re probably waiting for yours to arrive already.

Audi

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Published 1st June 2018
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