Audi RS3 400 Saloon 2017 Road Test
For 2017, Audi has given its RS3 Sportback and saloon a power hike, from 367HP to 400HP. And, by lightening the engine with a new alloy crankcase, a reduction of 26kilos in weight, just where you need it: over the front wheels.
Maximum torque of the charismatic 5-cylinder engine is up too, from 465Nm to 480Nm, at slightly higher revs of 1,700rpm. (Comparable figures for the BMW M2 are 370HP and 500Nm, though in the BMW that 500Nm is available from just 1,400rpm.)
However, what the BMW doesn’t have is quattro four wheel drive, and that gives the RS3 400 a 0.2 second advantage accelerating from 0-60, which it does in just under 4 seconds using launch control.
To achieve this you make sure the transmission is in Sport mode, switch off the ESC, left foot brake, rev the engine to cut-out point (which will be between 3,500 and 4,000rpm), then slide you foot off the brake.
It will then make 60 in under 4 seconds and go on to 155mph, or 174mph if you selected the Dynamic Drive option package.
The front tyres come in two sizes: 235/35 R19 and, optionally, 255/30 R19 (the TTRS has 255/30s all round).
The 26kg weight saving at the front lessens the need for the 255/30s that were standard on the original 367HP RS3, but for ultimate cornering grip they are still worth having. They mean that if you know where a corner is going (and also know there won’t be a camel just round it) you can hug the apex tightly and the tyres hang on like Gorilla glue. The new car really is significantly improved over the 367HP version we drove on road and track in 2015.
19kg of that weight saving comes from the new alloy cylinder block. The rest from a lightweight crankshaft, magnesium baffled oilpan, aluminium oil pump and lightweight timing chain pulleys.
Obviously Audi’s electro hydraulic quattro centre clutch comes as standard.
Audi Drive Select means that a driver has the option of selecting ‘comfort’, ‘automatic’, ‘dynamic’ and ‘individual’ driving modes. These all affect the response of the engine and steering and the damping. In ‘individual’ mode you can tailor them to your requirements, possibly choosing ‘comfort’ for the suspension, ‘dynamic’ for the steering and ‘automatic’ for the throttle response. ‘Comfort’ suspension definitely irons out the bumps but ‘Comfort’ steering robs the wheel of any feel, while ‘dynamic’ transformed the responses to those of a sports car. You can also switch the ESP to ‘Sport’, which allows a mild amount of four wheel drifting, or switch it off altogether.
At the time of writing the UK list price spec had not been finally settled, and neither had the UK price itself. If it doesn’t include carbo-ceramic front brake discs then they are worth having, even in the UK, because the stopping power is simply tremendous. If you’re going to track-day the car, then they are essential. Audi also hopes to provide the exhaust flap control as standard, so you can decide how much noise you want to make on a Sunday morning. (It does, of course, tell anyone wandering around in the road ahead that you’re coming.)
You can get rear cross-traffic assist to save you reversing into the path of a LandCruiser, traffic jam assist that lassos the car in front and gives you a two and pre-sense front assist that autonomously brakes the car from low speed if you’re about to run someone over.
You don’t get things like electric seats with the heavy motors they entail, but you do get electric driver’s seat lumbar support. The seats are very comfortable.
Audi Adaptive Ride gives decent ride quality, even on the 30 profile tyres.
And then you have to decide, what’s it to be? The RS3 Sporthatch, or the RS3 saloon.
Give me the RS3 saloon every time. Not only does it look a better, more balanced car than the Sporthatch, in the right colour it’s a lot more subtle.
The green of ours was anything but. Yet you can get it in a gorgeous deep metallic blue.
The exhaust may be just as loud, but the car isn’t.
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