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2015 Audi RS3 Sportback Tested: for Town and Track

When the Germans fight over something, it usually ends up being a very bloody thing. That seems to be the case with the hot hatch segment, where three companies are trying to dominate: Audi, BMW and Mercedes.
Audi RS3 Sportback tested 1 photo
In 2012, BMW unleashed the M135i into the world, and we saw that it was good. Sure, the 3-liter engine wasn't the most powerful in the world, but because it wasn't strained, it felt naturally aspirated. People also loved the fact that it was real-wheel drive.

To compete, Audi stuck at what it does best and gave us a brand new RS3 Sportback. At a glance, this car is made using the same formula as its predecessor. Up front is a 2.5-liter turbo engine, followed by a 7-speed twin-clutch gearbox and an all-wheel drive system that's front-biased.

However, after testing the car, we can tell you that it feels different, more responsive and dynamic. Do you remember when a hot hatchback had about 150 horsepower? We do. This RS3 has 367 ponies, and the sounds it makes are absolutely glorious. There's none of that synthesized nonsense, just good-old engine tuning. You could say that the new 2.5 TFSI makes a similar sound to the ur-Quattro, but it's a little better.

As is usually the case with modern RS cars from Audi, acceleration is brutal, but handling isn't the strong point. On a track, the fun factor was clearly lacking. This is not as enjoyable as a Porsche Cayman. But the upside is that instead of a cramped sportscar, you can have a 5-seater with a decent boot.

The interior is up to Audi's usual standard, filled with switches that have a solid feel. The bucket seats with quilted leather are a must feature. Unlike the BMW M135i, you can't have the RS3 with a manual gearbox. The upside is called "Launch Control" and we found it quite easy to use. You press the ESC toggle to turn it into Sport, put the drive select system in Dynamic, put the gearbox in Sport. When you press the acceleration, the engine automatically revs to 4,000rpm, and when the boost gauge is full, you just let go of the brake and enjoy the surge.

The engine feels like it will never run out of steam. Audi told us that the RS3 would reach 200 km/h in a little under 16 seconds, which kind of means that it can keep up with supercars from a decade ago.

To find out how usable the cheapest RS model Audi makes is, read our full 2015 Audi RS3 Sportback Review.


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