I from the first corner Audi RS3 sedan You feel at home and able to attack, it delivers confidence-inspiring feedback with rally-style dynamics. Right away this latest version felt fuller, more balanced and super sharp.
The RS3 offers a perfect balance between everyday drivability and track capability at the flick of a switch. You don’t feel like you’re living on the edge, but you know the speed is there when you need it.
For 2022 you can tell Audi had the Mercedes-AMG A45 S firmly in its sights, with a claimed 0-100km/h time 0.1 seconds faster than the AMG and a host of other subtle improvements. are
But will it be enough to close the gap, and perhaps even leapfrog the A45 S? The first impression was that it was going to be close…
On paper 2.5-litre turbocharged inline five-cylinder petrol engine Barely changed, with more of the same 294 kW Power as its predecessor, and a slight increase in torque 500Nm -which comes in 300rpm higher at 2250rpm. Immediately it felt more reactive and responsive, offering a wider more flexible powerband.
It was more drivable on the track and allowed more room for error with gear selection and car positioning while maintaining car speed.
Somehow, Audi has managed to squeeze even more out of the already impressive launch control system, with a claimed 0-100 time. 3.8 seconds.
On my first run I did. 3.89 seconds A 3.90 run followed, which was 0.34 seconds faster than what I achieved in the previous generation model.
The brake pedal was really solid and consistent, but it lacked quite the stopping power I remembered from the previous version.
My first thought was the brake package, but I soon realized it was more about grip, which I’ll get to shortly.
Brake pedal modulation has improved, and I was able to make much more consistent laps than the outgoing model.
The chassis is very close to ideal, but a few areas are compromised a bit.
Movement in the chassis is great, but as soon as you start exploring the limits, it shows signs of not being there at all. The front end seems underpowered with a little too much roll in both high- and low-speed corners, creating a delayed, subtle understeer.
It won’t wash into a big understeer but lacks response and support to really carry corner speed. The great thing is that if you’re patient enough, you can now spin the car out of that understeer using better differentials instead of continuing and managing the understeer.
Once you start that rotation, you can really drive through the corner and rely on the traction of the quattro all-wheel drive system – which now has a rear torque splitter – to propel you forward. of the.
For most drivers and for street use, a bit of understeer balance is a plus and something that will inspire confidence behind the wheel. There won’t be many people who can’t get behind the wheel of this car and do some of the best laps they’ve ever done.
From my past experience, the RS3 sedan has more understeer bias than the Sportback (hatch) with its more supportive and stable rear end – likely a contributing factor to the balance issue I experienced. .
The seven-speed S-Tronic dual-clutch auto transmission seems more forgiving on downshifts, and I had no issues.
I found the latest shifter to be a definite improvement. If only in terms of software, on the outgoing model. Upshifts were excellent, quick and efficient, which is a big part of nailing the 0-100km/h time.
As for the differential, it’s exciting to see Audi ditch the Hildex system, which tended to understeer, in favor of a mechanical rear differential, in which an autonomous electronically controlled clutch distributes torque between the rear wheels.
This provided a much more neutral balance on the throttle, with the ability to spin the car even on early throttle before pulling it all together on corner exit. I liked how well the differential pulled everything together when you stepped on the power and I could take a lot of speed out of every corner with confidence that it would hold the line, which is a plus. A huge improvement.
From an overall experience perspective, it’s much more satisfying for the driver and it’s great to see that Audi has recognized this and moved on. Traction was excellent, as you would expect.
The Audi RS3 is a bit limited on the track with its amount of maneuverability.
I didn’t see this as a big issue before, but I felt with all the other small improvements with the Audi RS3, that they could have gotten a bit more out of the suspension.
Even so, the suspension travel and compliance is excellent and it’s not harsh on the road or track.
The level of grip and compliance means you can really corner the car and use the track with complete confidence.
I was again impressed with the steering, offering good feedback and connection with the chassis.
It never crossed my mind and was exactly what I would expect, which is no bad thing.
Whenever you do the fastest lap on your first lap, it’s usually a sign that the tires aren’t up to the job.
On our test car, Audi fitted Bridgestone Potenza Sport rubber with slightly wider 265/30 R19 fronts and 245/35 R19 rears. Overseas Pirelli P Zero and track-focused Trofeo R tires are available.
Audi has stuck with a surprising set-up to improve front grip, but there still seems to be a limit. I readjusted the tire pressures for my second run and was able to almost match my first time, then the times fell flat again with an increase in understeer.
It seemed to be a compound problem and a pressure problem, possibly missing the mechanical grip with a very stiff compound and then that energy increases the tire pressure quickly, and I never felt like it. is connected.
Of note, when the RS3 Sedan set the compact car lap record around the Nürburgring, Audi fitted the car with sticker Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires. I would love to try this car on a proper set of performance tires and see how it behaves on the track.
Audi has improved its driver aids with more options and customizable RS drive modes.
I found with everything in ESC in RS Performance mode and its Dynamic setting, it wasn’t as intrusive as the previous generation.
I turned off the traction control and was unconcerned with the Audi RS3’s level of traction and drivability on the track.
I really like the Audi steering wheels, they are a good size, shape and texture with the optional Alcantara finish – great for track use and great on the road too.
Bringing the RS button to the wheel is a great addition and makes it so easy to jump into race mode with a flick of your thumb. The seats and their positioning are also very good and offer plenty of support on the track as well as day-to-day comfort.
The new runway rpm gauge actually took some getting used to. I found it strange that the reviews were moving towards me as I was moving forward. The integration with the shift lights is great and you will definitely get used to the whole display.
In my mind, the Audi RS3 did everything to match the Mercedes-AMG A45 S in terms of lap times – the engine felt better, the diff did what I wanted and I could attack all out, but the lap times There wasn’t. .
It also couldn’t match the previous generation Audi RS3 on our test track, which confused me even more.
As a package it felt more complete, more satisfying to drive and such a fun and entertaining experience, yet it had a 59.21 second lap – 0.3 seconds slower than the old model and 1.0 seconds behind the AMG.
Tracks change from day to day and tires can play an important role, but this time I can say that lap times aren’t everything and you won’t be disappointed behind the wheel of the Audi RS3.
- Be patient at MI corner to get circulation.
- Be aggressive on the throttle on corner exit, the car responds well.
- Try Launch Control, its a cool race car!
Click on the images for the full gallery.
More: Everything Audi RS3