Audi’s new compact rocket now comes in a 400 PS (or 394 bhp, but 400 PS sounds sexier) handsome sedan form - we take a blast in it
Photos by Joel Tam
Who doesn’t like power? We all do. So that’s what Audi’s RS division is great at doing. Creating more power, but with lots of control and safety to help you manage it too. Unlike Mercedes’ AMG models, which before the new range of ’43’ versions, were high-powered rear-wheel driven monsters, Audi’s RS series of cars all feature their signature Quattro four-wheel drive, all in the name of power WITH control. I personally am a fan.
Sure, some purists will say that true sports cars are meant to be RWD. But in this day and age where a car needs to do more than go sideways in secluded B-roads (of which there are close to none here in Singapore), the RS range of models are the epitome of the all-in-one sports car.
The entry-level RS we have here today is the RS3 sedan. Now in a compact saloon form, this pocket powerhouse packs 394 bhp and a whopping 480 Nm of torque in that little body.
As expected, power is in abundance. 0-100km/h comes in a mere 4.1 seconds and a top speed of 250 km/h is easily reached (not that we tried). But more on that later.
As you walk up to the RS3 sedan, you notice that the dashing looking 4-door is packing lots of extra exterior bits that differentiate it from it’s lesser siblings. Lots of open gaping grilles and aluminium design trimmings help to create a much fiercer look. But the thing I love most about turbocharge 4WD cars is missing - a set of flared arches all round. But then again, unlike the WRX or EVO, this is not a homologated rally machine.
Audi is not holding back with this car though. It’s got huge 19-inch wheels and a fashionable set of black-tipped dual exhaust pipes. Finished in the sexy shade of blue, the car looks really, really nice.
Inside the car, you’ll enjoy some lovely alcantara used on the steering wheel and gear knob. More aluminium trimmings juxtaposed against black leather and robust dash fittings can be found. It’s very comfortable but yet is able to feel like a properly sporty environment to be in. Specs wise you get all the bells and whistles too, with Audi’s Virtual Cockpit displaying all the data you need when on the track (G-force meter, torque figures, lap-timings, etc).
On to the drive then. Ride quality in the RS3 set to Comfort mode is okay-ish. Very acceptable for a car that stiffens up quite a lot when put in Dynamic mode. But I feel it needs to be that way. While it WILL feel firm over less-than-perfect surfaces and can be a tad bit crashy on undulated roads, it still feels more comfy than a Merc CLA45 AMG. To me, the overall ride is still good enough not to induce puking.
What might make you feel a little nauseous is the stupendous amount of torque this little car generates from its newish 2.5-litre 5-pot engine. Set the drive mode to Dynamic, shift the gear knob to “S” and you’ll be in the RS3’s most aggressive setting. In this mode, the car will accelerate like a bat out of hell and the exhaust will create a symphony of crackles and pops to accompany the drama.
Shifts come via a 7-speed S-tronic dual-clutch gearbox that is quick and fun to use. Yes, we love manual transmissions, but for a daily driver and the occasional track day and long drive up north, you will want this tranny. Trust me.
Without a track or a closed road, it’s nearly impossible to test the RS3 to its limits, or even half of it. But safe enough to say, the level of grip is more than enough for any public road. The cars chassis feels a wee bit ‘softer’ than a CLA45 (a car we DID managed to drive on the track). Coupled with the more pliant suspension setting, this makes the RS3 a more comfortable car to live with everyday.
At a tad above the SGD 300K mark, it’s not a cheap car to buy. I won’t even dare say it’s worth the money. But the RS3 is a great little car. Maybe that’s the problem, it’s still a bit … ‘little’. Maybe if this was a larger car, like an RS4, $300K won’t seem that much.