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Audi RS 3 launch impressions

The all-new Audi RS 3 models have finally touched down on our shores and we finally had a go, luckily for us, in the Sedan variant which has always been a personal favourite.

On the exterior, our launch unit was dressed in the Kyalami green hue which we thought was the pick of the bunch. A lot of other colours are also available and we think this is the most playful and most attractive colour palette from Audi we have seen in a while. The standard kit is also quite impressive for the price. In the front, the wide RS bumper, the redesigned Singleframe with its distinctive honeycomb grille, and the large air intakes give the compact sports car an expressive appearance. Behind the flared fenders, a slightly protruding air outlet creates a motorsport look. The front axle track has been widened by 33 millimetres. At the rear axle, the new RS 3 Sportback has added ten millimetres.

The RS 3 comes standard-equipped with Matrix LED headlights with darkened bezels that feature digital daytime running lights around their outer downturned angles. LED taillights, including dynamic turn signal lights, door entrance LED lighting with RS logo projection in the front, contour ambient lighting with multi-coloured accents are other exciting standard lighting features. The highlight of the RS3 lighting technology is the headlights pixel field of 3 x 5 LED segments, it provides an unmistakable look – when the vehicle is opened, the RS 3 lettering appears on the driver’s side and a checkered flag appears in the pixel field of the other headlight, creating a dynamic scene. When driving, the checkered flag lights up on both sides.

Upon entering, you're greeted by one of the most intricate and sophisticated cabin designs in the premium compact car segment. In place of a traditional dial arrangement, a longitudinal graph-style rev counter and the speedometer is used. As we've seen on other models, such as the Audi RS Q3, we didn't love the layout immediately, but it does not take long to get used to.

A lot has been put into the new models, fresh looks on the interior and exterior while the technology has been heavily increased. Under the hood, the legendary 2.5-litre 5-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine has been updated and while it still offers the same 294kW, the torque has been raised to 500nm. It is still mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission which we think is fantastic! On paper, the RS 3 is incredible when it comes to performance. 0-100kph in 3.8 seconds and for those who think the standard speed is not enough, opt for the Audi RS driver's package and you will be able to raise the speed to 290kph. The vehicle is impressive, off the line, with its 100-200kph sprint as well as its ability to handle corners. The biggest update was the addition of a “drift mode”, in what most people thought it was a gimmick (us included) we were quickly made to shut up as we managed to get behind the wheel at Zwartkops Raceway and went sideways effortlessly after engaging the RS Torque Rear mode. While it features a fully variable flap control system to broaden the sound, we do feel like it could do with a little more sound.

Overall, the Audi RS 3 is a fun performance sedan/hatch and with a starting price of R1.2M with quite a lot of standard kit, we think that the models are currently the models to have. The drift mode will indeed have a lot of people talking and adding a black package as standard is a nice touch. It only makes sense why all the 150 first units have been snatched up. We will have a detailed review once we have tested the vehicle thoroughly.

Local standard equipment highlights

The Audi RS 3 model range is highly equipped with ideal specification and features which proudly showcase its performance, digital and design points. The following equipment highlights are worth mentioning: Audi RS virtual cockpit; darkened Matrix LED headlights with dynamic light design; Black styling package; Bang & Olufsen premium sound system with 3D sound; Audi smartphone interface; Audi connect e-call functionality; sport seats in front; RS Sports exhaust; rearview camera; park assist; comfort key with safelock; progressive steering and 19-inch wheels

Prices starting at R1,215,000 for the RS 3 Sportback and R1,245,000 for the RS 3 Sedan (inclusive of VAT and all taxes).

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