If you’re looking for the world’s most powerful production hot hatch you can stop reading and head to your nearest showroom – this Audi RS3 Sportback is it.
In short, it’s a grown-up GTI for the family generation. For people who need rear seats with ISOfix, but also fancy hitting 60 in less than 5 seconds, and having a 174mph top speed on tap for any emergencies involving autobahns or abandoned airstrips.
Lets be absolutely clear about that last bit, this thing is seriously quick. The tried-and-tested five-cylinder engine (the most powerful production five-cylinder engine in Audi RS history) has been tweaked to deliver 367PS and 465Nm from 1,625rpm to 5,550rpm, which in the real world is blisteringly, hugely fast.
A twin clutch box and turbo leaves a little lag in full auto, but the acceleration curve is monstrous when it hits. Unlike the GTIs of yesteryear though, you’ll not be laying out for a TomTom, or hunting in the glovebox for mixtapes. Although the full-heads-up screen of the TT isn’t present, the dash-popup screen delivers a great experience, BlueTooth sync is seamless (Apple and Android alike), and firing up Spotify, Soundcloud and on-device media alike worked perfectly.
The audio system initially sounded a little flat, but with a bit of fiddling the extra cost for B&O badges on the speakers was justified, and the (15-channel amplifier with a total output of 705 Watts and 14-speaker array fairly sang.
Obviously Audi’s in-car hotspot helped connectivity significantly, and has allowed the plugging-in of a whole series of data feeds, just as news, social updates etc, which will certainly appeal to long-distance drivers.
That said, the cabin does have a certain amount of background noise on the motorway, so long trips will need that audio system fired up to offset it. However, this is nitpicking – if you want a comfy long-distance sales driver then this isn’t on your list. Fuel economy of 34.9mpg makes that abundantly clear, just in case you were wondering how fast a 1.5 ton performance car drinks octanes.
When it comes to slowing down however, there’s more good news – the brakes are on the strong side too, if slightly grabby at slow speeds. Up front, eight-piston calipers grip efficiency-boosting wave contour discs with real verve, and in Q4 there’s a carbon fibre-ceramic option for those who demand fade free braking no matter what the cost.
Speaking of which, prices start from £39,955, but as ever add up – our Audi RS3 test model added up to a total of £51k, which is on the salty side.
However, there’s nothing else as quick until you’re in supercar territory, and those machines are less handy for the weekly shop. Overall, we want one now, please…