Audi RS3 Sedan 2.5 TFSI Drive Review : RS & Recreation [COTY2022]
Singapore - Who doesn’t love a good break from the everyday mundane and mediocre?
We’re certainly not ones to complain, especially if it involves the letters ‘RS’, a burbly, charismatic 5cyl engine and a stealthy four-door sedan shape.
Good thing we’re well brought-up, so we’ve never been the sort to judge a book by its cover.
Casual passers-by aren’t likely to give the RS3 Sedan a second look, simply because of how ‘casual’ it looks… that is, unless you’re one of the cognoscenti who knows what to look out for!
The stealthy sedan lets you travel under-the-radar, especially if you put on a nondescript four-digit number plate and option one of the more subdued tones.
It doesn’t sport the usual elements that get the car-spotters spotting, such as a loud body-kit and even louder go-faster livery.
There’s a gloss black RS singleframe honeycomb grille (with matching rear skirting) and large air-intakes, a small smattering of ‘RS 3’ emblems around the car (notably the rump and front grille), a discrete lip on the boot and blackened oval tailpipes that characterise Audi’s RS models.
As we were saying, it’s very understated #iykyk stuff, especially since some of us prefer to tread quietly, but carry a big stick.
However, we should qualify that there’s something very loud about the RS3… and that’s the multiple award-winning turbo’d 2.5-litre 5cyl.
We’ve been huge fans of the RS3 from two model iterations ago, largely due to the rousing 5pot engine that lurks beneath its bonnet.
In fact, we reckon our passion for Audi’s 5cyl can be traced back to the legendary Ur and Sport Quattro, both of which we’ve had the immense satisfaction of piloting through the Alpine passes in Europe.
In the latest incarnation of the RS3 (it’s the second iteration of the RS 3 Sedan and third for the RS 3 Sportback), the 2480cc 5cyl returns with a big shout and a bang in full-fat 400hp/500Nm guise, but there’s even more going on under its skin that catapults it into proper sportscar-baiting territory.
The latest RS3 Sedan builds on its predecessors’ straight-line prowess but adds a sprinkle of dynamic chutzpah.
This isn’t just idle chatter either, because the RS3 is the first application of torque-split technology in an Audi.
In fact, Audi Singapore was so adamant we got to grip (literally!) with its new powertrain technology it rented the Changi Exhibition Centre grounds, created a circuit and let us loose carte blanche on it.
Most important of all for a dynamic driving event, they ensured we had a truck-load of fresh tyres to replace all the rubber we would be burning up in RS Torque Rear mode, but more on that in a bit.
Don’t knock the RS3’s place in the compact segment, because the cabin is properly posh with Audi virtual cockpit plus and diamond-quilted sports seats to hold you gamely in place when you’re getting your jam on… hopefully not in a traffic jam!
Off-pace, the three-box RS is the very soul of corporate civility without the boy-racer image of a hot-hatch, so you’ll have no qualms showing up for client visits in it, or meeting the potential in-laws.
The 5pot’s pace is positively ballistic and you’ll certainly cackle along to its throaty snap, crackle and pop when you’re really pressing hard in accompaniment to the bang-bang-bang of the 7spd dual-clutch transmission’s short, sharp gearshifts.
With 400hp/500Nm, the RS3 doesn’t have an overwhelming amount of performance – if anything, it’s par for the course to achieve brisk progress on city streets as well as the B-roads up North.
There’s also adequate grunt for long, high-speed expressway runs and should prove a versatile all-rounder that is fun-to-drive, goes anywhere and won’t attract undue attention.
There are new RS Performance drive modes including RS Torque Rear, which works to shuffle drive variably to the rear wheels, depending on which one requires more torque when cornering.
It doesn’t become fully rear-wheel-drive, but is sufficiently rear-biased to make fast driving interesting!
The RS3 is keenly alert and executes quick direction changes with bright-eyed and bushy-tailed enthusiasm.
It never feels stodgy, with both the bespoke chassis set-up and powertrain capable of administering a big can of whoop-a$$ to potential challengers, be it on the straights or when the going gets winding.
This feisty compact sedan won’t just accommodate four adults (and their barang-barang) cross country, it’ll gamely keep up with faster machines on the winding roads, thanks to its quattro surefootedness and a supernatural ability to put power down on all manner of surfaces.
RS Torque Rear isn’t paying lip service to anyone and it isn’t the conjurations of an overactive imagination from a quattro apologist.
If anything, many of the RS3’s rivals from BMW and Mercedes-Benz have adopted all-wheel-drive (paired with some form of torque vectoring) in an effort to control rising engine output figures.
There’s a distinct neutral to rear-bias to the car’s handling poise and best of all, you can get the RS3’s tail out progressively and fluidly with very little provocation save for an overactive right foot.
The stream of constant chatter and meat from the steering enables you to tidy everything up instinctively and intuitively without too much drama save for the one you’re instigating with your right foot!
There’s something eminently chuckable about such compact pocket rockets that fuels their appeal.
Even collectors of super-sportscars tend to have one of these critters in the stable for when they want a tight, nimble handler that’s point-and-squirty, as well as immensely manoeuvrable in city traffic.
The RS3 Sedan is likely one of a dying breed of ‘fun’ cars with character and charisma that require introspection and skill to drive.
With such flavourful cars quickly supplanted by soulless appliances that cater to the masses, this petrolhead thinks it’s great that cars like the RS3 still afford you the opportunity to enjoy a little RS & Recreation.
PHOTOS Zotiq Visuals
Audi RS 3 Sedan 2.5 TFSI
Engine 2480cc, 20v, inline5, turbo'd
Power/rpm 400hp / 5600-7000rpm
Torque/rpm 500Nm / 2250-5600rpm
Transmission 7spd S tronic dual-clutch
Top Speed 250km/h (electronically limited)
Fuel Consumption 9.8l/100km