UPDATED 8/10/22: This evaluate has been up to date with take a look at outcomes.
Sure, the Audi RS3 has a drift mode. And sure, it permits even probably the most ham-fisted amongst us to take part within the kind of cackle-inducing hooliganism that was as soon as unique to rear-wheel-drive vehicles. However actually, the trick rear differential that the RS3 shares with the Volkswagen Golf R is of most profit on the observe, because the stocky sedan’s Nürburgring time of seven:40.8 convincingly suggests.
Although the genetics are undeniably apparent, the RS3 has been honed into an altogether completely different factor this time round, and it is much more critical about extracting lap instances. Its brutish appears to be like ship the message even earlier than you drive it. These uniquely flared fenders home 265-mm-section-width tires within the entrance and 245s within the again, up from the previous-generation RS3’s non-compulsory 255s and 235s, respectively. The individuals at Audi Sport put a variety of thought into making this factor flip. What you may’t see are the RS3’s particular spindles and hubs, entrance subframe, management arms, or anti-roll bars. In comparison with the S3, the entrance observe is 2 inches wider, and there is a further diploma of entrance adverse camber (together with a further half diploma of adverse camber out again). So, if you happen to have been pondering you’d purchase an S3 or a Golf R and do some mods right here and there to make up the distinction, you will not.
Even if you happen to received shut, you’d nonetheless be down a cylinder and its half-liter of displacement—to not point out the two.5-liter’s great character. That Audi builds a five-cylinder in any respect in all probability must be celebrated, and this one’s good. Boasting a singular soundtrack and format in defiance of this period of sameness, the bizarre and award-winning engine is turbocharged to 401 horsepower and 369 pound-feet—seven ponies greater than within the earlier model however 15 further pound-feet. There’s just a little turbo lag at low rpm—it is nothing egregious, simply not the tons-of-torque-right-now tune you are aware of from the model’s boosted four-cylinder engines. In any case, the slight lull is greater than made up for within the run to redline, the place the RS3 pulls and pulls . . . and pulls . . . and pulls . . . till the upshift.
A seven-speed dual-clutch computerized is the one transmission supplied. It is beefier than the unit within the S3 and shares not a single gear ratio. We caught it just a little behind the ball on downshifts quite a lot of instances—it is best to make use of the Guide mode if you happen to’re chasing lap instances. From there, an open differential sends torque to the entrance wheels as earlier than, whereas on the different finish of the prop shaft, two unbiased clutch packs change the earlier single Haldex clutch. By de-clutching the within rear wheel, the system can successfully direct the rearward torque to the surface wheel, serving to to mitigate understeer or instigate the aforementioned drifting antics within the RS Efficiency drive mode. As earlier than, the entrance wheels are pushed all of the whereas.
With launch management engaged, our 3639-pound take a look at automotive shot to 60 in 3.3 seconds, beating the 2017 RS3 we final examined by a tenth of second, regardless of the brand new model weighing 92 kilos extra. Keep in it, and the quarter-mile flies by in 11.8 seconds at 117 mph. Nonetheless, the magic of the dual-clutch’s launch-control programming mixed with the engine’s increased torque peak—3500 rpm versus the previous RS3’s 1700 revs—are evident within the run from 5 to 60 mph, which at 4.7 seconds is definitely o.4 second slower than earlier than.
In observe, the RS3’s mechanical trickery offers the most effective of each worlds. In case you dive right into a nook with an excessive amount of pace, trusty understeer permits a simple save. Alternately, approximate the precise entry pace (which for this automotive is just a little sizzling), punch the fuel ahead of you assume it is best to, and let the electronics shuffle torque and pull you out. It pays to drive the RS3 with ham-fisted aggression.
The steering wheel is simply the precise thickness and affords exact management. The sheer width of the entrance tires is simple to discern even by means of the damping of the electrical steering rack, translating to your palms as “brute steamroller,” not “nimble little sedan.” Your job is to confidently yank the wheel, mash the fuel, and transfer on to the following nook. Sadly, grip ranges have dropped barely in comparison with the previous RS3, a minimum of on the usual Pirelli P Zero PZ4 summer season tires that our take a look at automotive wore. Across the skidpad, the brand new RS3 caught to the pavement at 0.94 g versus the 0.98 g that the 2017 model generated on comparable Pirelli tires. Likewise, its 167-foot cease from 70 mph on the usual iron rotors is 10 toes longer than we beforehand noticed from the non-compulsory carbon-ceramic setup. To fight this, Audi now affords track-oriented Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R rubber as a $450 choice.
If you are going to take your RS3 to the observe—and it is best to—you will in all probability discover its setup to be a good compromise. The suspension appears completely damped for street driving, which is a feat given its competence on the observe. In Consolation mode, the rebound feels precisely in sync with undulations and depressions, notably at excessive speeds; in probably the most aggressive Dynamic setting, we discovered the dampers to be overly stiff to be used on ragged Midwestern roads. Configure the automotive’s RS Particular person mode accordingly.
The RS3 begins at $59,995. It is well-equipped because it sits, however there are a number of temptations, from the $5500 Dynamic Plus package deal (lighter carbon-ceramic entrance brakes, elevated 180-mph high pace) to the $2750 Tech package deal (higher navigation, traffic-sign recognition, Bang & Olufsen audio, and a head-up show). We do advocate the $1000 RS Sport exhaust—the higher to listen to the 88-decibel warble of the turbo five-banger—and if you happen to needed to, you could possibly value your RS3 into $70K-plus territory. However we hardly assume that is essential to take pleasure in what this rowdy little automotive brings.
Is the RS3 value it? There is not any query this automotive has been painstakingly optimized for observe responsibility, and the extent of consideration is uncommon at this value level. Arrange an S3 as shut as you may and you are still spending $50,000. BMW’s redesigned M2 has but to seem, and the Mercedes-AMG CLA45, whereas very comparable in value, has one much less cylinder and is not fairly as critical about turning laps on the observe. For the precise particular person, the RS3 may be a price. And even if you happen to’re not down with chopping free on the racetrack, you are still shopping for five-cylinder exclusivity.
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