Little spitfire delight

2011-10-21 13:48

The only time you can throw a powerful car around and push the throttle nearly through the firewall, is when you’re on the racetrack.

Basically, this is when you get to drive like a hooligan and not get into trouble with the law.

Audi recently launched their baby RS model and allowed us some playtime on the Killarney Grand Prix Circuit in Cape Town.

Track day launches are definitely my favourite and probably that of every other motoring scribe. Although there are always advanced driving instructors at the track – even next to you in the car – it hardly takes away the fun.

So imagine the whoops of delight when we were told we could give it stick without any instructors inside with us. Of course, it helps to know a thing or two about racing lines, not braking in apexes and when to give the car gas.

Audi SA says each of their RS models represents the pinnacle of its model line. The RS 3 Sportback was developed by quattro GmbH, high performance specialist company, and is the first model for the A3 range.

The RS history started out with turbo-charged engines combined with quattro performance in the 1980s with their racing and production cars. In 1990 the RS 2 Avante was built in conjunction with Porsche. It boasted a five-cylinder turbo-charged engine.

The new millennium brought the RS 4 and has probably been one of the company’s most successful cars. So much so that a second-hand model still sells very close to the original price.

The RS 3 is definitely the baby in the RS range when lined up against the TT RS. The two cars come with a 2.5-litre engine and similar power outputs. And then there’s the monstrous RS 5, all three were at the track.

Although quick and able to hold its own, the RS 3 is smaller and more gentle.

Power comes through the seven-speed S tronic and quattro permanent all-wheel-drive. It also sports 19-inch wheels and fenders made of carbon-fibre reinforced plastic which give the car a menacing stance.

Only 54 models have been brought in for local shores and they’ve already been snatched up. Audi SA is hoping to secure another 50 models for next year.

Because the RS 3 goes from zero to 100km/h in 4.6 seconds; taking it around for laps was lightning quick. Paddle shifts and traction control make taking the racing line more exhilarating.

And while it gives out a satisfactory growl, its musical notes come nowhere near the beastly roar of the RS 5.

Styling goods include matt aluminium mirrors, a big roof spoiler and two elliptical exhaust tailpipes.

The RS 3 badges are flaunted on the single-frame wide grill and on the boot lid. Inside, the racer attitude continues with sports seats draped in fine Nappa leather with silver stitching, glossy black or aluminium brush on the dashboard and panels, and a leather multifunction sports steering wheel.

Standard niceties include the sport button, rear-parking system, climate control, chorus radio system and xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights.

The RS 3 took quite a bruising on the track but showed itself to be a dynamic drive that can give as much as it can take. And as capable as it is on the track, it’s also a pleasurable daily drive.

Quick Stats

Model: Audi RS 3
Engine: 2.5-litre TFSI
Power: 250kW
Torque: 450Nm
Fuel consumption: 9.1 l/100km
Price: R525 000

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