If I’m honest, last Christmas wasn’t that memorable.
There was the obligatory tucker and drinkfest with family and friends, but despite me assuring Saint Nick I’d been a good boy all year, little on my Xmas list arrived in my stocking.
Luckily Audi sparked me up no end with their first-ever RS3 sedan to drive over the yuletide season.
And while the A3-based pint-size powerhouse wasn’t on my Xmas list…. it is now.
At the top.
IN CAPITAL LETTERS.
Are you listening big fella?
The Audi RS3 Sedan is totally and utterly addictive: stratospherically fast, corners like it’s on rails, stops in a heartbeat, is luxuriously appointed and refined.
It is, without doubt, one of the most engaging cars I have driven and from the moment my bum hit the leather-clad sports seat, I had a constant ear-to-ear grin.
With a push of a button, the 294kW/480Nm turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine wakens with a loud roar. Its huge oval shape exhausts ensure quiet getaways aren’t its thing.
And does it pack a massive punch.
Let it off the leash and all that grunt plus the seven-speed dual clutch auto and quattro driveline collaborate to fling it to 100km/h in 4.1 seconds. That’s less than a second slower than $390,000 V10 Audi R8 plus supercar. Top speed of the Audi RS3 is an attention-grabbing 280/kmh.
Australia is the fourth biggest buyers of RS vehicles on the planet and as such Audi Australia has a fair degree of bargaining power when it comes to pricing. Which is why you only need to fork out $84,900 for this swag of motoring delights.
The RS3 is not only Audi’s biggest selling RS product it’s also the bargain basement barnstormer of the Audi fleet.
Like all RS (Rocket Ship) Audi’s, it’s sleek shape isn’t covered in wings and bolt-on body bits.
The immediate tell-tale sign it’s the quickie of the pride is its lower ride height (by 25mm) over a standard A3 and wider track. Other clues are a single-frame grille between piercing LED headlights, broad stance, guard-filling 19-inch alloy wheels on low profile Pirelli’s, big brakes with big red brake callipers, drainpipe exhausts poking out through a diffuser, a boot lip aero aid and a deeper chin spoiler with big air intakes and ‘Quattro’ stamped on it.
Inside it’s typical Audi; beautifully made and well appointed. Nobody does interior’s better. Leather covers the body-hugging quilted sports seats and flat-bottom steering wheel that’s also partly swathed in Alcantara. At your fingertips are aluminium shift paddles and controls for the adaptive cruise, wipers and indicators. You also get dual-zone aircon with rear vents, auto wipers and lights, an auto-dimming mirror, heated front pews and touches of aluminium and carbon garnish.
The driving position low slung and facing you is Audi’s enchanting 12.3-inch digital virtual cockpit. I set it to Sport mode that displays a big central tacho with a digital speedo inside it and to the side, Power, Torque and G-gauges. As I wasn’t at a racetrack I didn’t bother with the lap timer but if I was ….
The centre dash houses the pop up multi-media infotainment screen housing phone and music streaming, DAB+ digital radio, a reversing camera, in-car Wi-Fi hotspot, sat nav and a bunch of apps that are driven by console controllers.
For a compact sedan, it’s reasonably spacious up front and while ‘cosy’ describes the rear, it’s roomier than it looks.
Audi’s excellent multi-drive select system is featured and for most of the time, I couldn’t resist having it in ‘Dynamic’ mode which introduces the models most aggressive acceleration, lightning-fast gear changes, razor-sharp steering, firmer ride and amplification of the emotive five-cylinder turbo beat. For a long run highway from Melbourne to Warrnambool ‘Comfort’ mode provided near silent motoring.
The RS3’s remarkable cornering talents constantly amazed me, especially on one memorable fang along coastal roads.
It mattered little that the roads were bumpy and washboard-like at times, the RS3 simply hooked through corners like it was welded to the road. Its raw speed and ability to carry that through turns combined with its overall agility, change of direction and huge stopping performance is bloody impressive. So is the way it eats up wide open bends.
To prevent you overstepping the mark the Audi RS3 is chock full of advanced driver assistance systems like active side assist and lane assist, autonomous emergency braking, ABS, traction and stability controls, hill hold and rear cross traffic assist to name a few. Naturally, it comes with front, side and curtain airbag, plus a knee bag for the driver. Like the entire A3 sedan range, the RS3 has a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.
It wouldn’t be an Audi without a number of option packs and one that’s sure to be a favourite is the $5,900 RS performance package, which gets you magnetic ride control with adaptive dampers, a 14-speaker Bang and Olufsen sound system, carbon fibre interior trimmings and rotor design 19-inch alloys.
Audi’s high-performance RS3 is a tantalising sports sedan with attitude and luxury.
It’s a riveting drive.
Santa, don’t forget this time… and you have my address.
For more information on the Audi RS3 sedan – click here.