quattro is renowned for the legendary era of Group B rallying. The Audi Sport quattros were recognisable from a far distance along a rally stage thanks to their unique five-cylinder engine note. I was fortunate enough to sit alongside Stig Blomqvist two years ago, the Swedish rally driver who won the world rally championship for Audi in 1984. We drove along a snow-covered forest stage in Sweden with Stig at the wheel of an eighties Sport quattro, the most memorable part of this unique experience apart from the sublime grip on its studded tyres was the unique sound of the five-cylinder engine.
Audi are no stranger to producing fast road cars through their line-up of S and RS models. One of the latest models to gain RS status is the Audi RS3. Under its bonnet is a 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that produces a stern 367hp and 465Nm of torque. This engine is linked to a seven-speed automatic transmission that distributes power to all four-wheels through Audi’s quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system. The performance figures speak for themselves, the RS3 can accelerate to 100km/h from a standstill in just 4.3 seconds and go on to a top speed of 250km/h, this can be increased to 280km/h upon request. When we took to the track the RS3 posted an impressive laptime of 1:04.2 around Mondello Park’s National Circuit. This time places the RS3 in second position on our lap chart leader board.
The RS3 sits 25 millimetres lower than the A3 Sportback on 19” alloy wheels surrounded by flared wheel arches. The RS3 has a muscular appearance up front with enlarged air intakes and a honeycomb grille, at the rear there are twin oval tailpipes and a rear diffuser. The interior features a pair of sports seats up front complete with embossed RS3 logos. There is a host of standard equipment on board, this includes LED headlights, Audi drive select, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, electrically adjustable and heated exterior mirrors, sports suspension, front and rear parking sensors, a flat-bottomed steering wheel with Alcantara inserts, anti-theft alarm, RS body styling and dual zone climate control.
The RS3 excels on all roads, it’s well insulated cabin makes long-distance journeys a pleasure. Once you turn off the main roads and explore twisty sections of country road the RS3 comes alive. It’s extremely surefooted with an abundance of grip even in the wet thanks to the quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system. The noise emitted from the twin oval exhausts is addictive, our test car was equipped with the optional RS sports exhaust (€1,409). It turns a standard RS3 into a sport quattro replica and is as close as you’ll get to emulating Stig Blomqvist yourself. If you’re fortunate enough to be in a position to purchase an RS3 please don’t order one without the Sports exhaust, trust me it makes all the difference.
For Irish roads the RS3 has the perfect mix of practicality, handling and superb performance. It’s so good that it makes it hard to justify the extra spend to purchase an RS4, unless you need more luggage space of course.
Engine Size – 2480cc
Fuel Type – Petrol
Power – 367hp
Torque – 465Nm
Acceleration (0-100km/h) – 4.3 seconds
Top Speed – 250 km/h
Consumption (Combined) – 8.1L/100km
CO2 Emissions – 189g/km
Road Tax – €750
Base Price – €65,900
Price as Tested – €72,948