Is Audis RS range TOO good?
Recently Audi invited a few journos to a private track on the outskirts of Cape Town, to sample the new TT-RS, RS3 hatch and RS5. All of which, are spectacular cars. Fast, capable, easy on the eye and each with its very own personality. But are they too good…for their own good?
With the unassuming looks of a Jiu-Jitsu Grand Master, the RS3 is one of the few cars that can make a driver swallow nervously as they attack another corner way faster than most would believe possible. At least in real-world situations. Yes, the BMW M2 is better on track, but that only has 2 doors and is not as easy to live with daily. With RS3, you have the practicality of a Golf 7 TSI, with the speed of a 90’s Lamborghini. Traffic is despatched without much drama and even with four people in the car, it still pulls hard enough to produce equal amounts of excitement and terror to unsuspecting passengers. At under 1 Million rand, this is the consensus performance bargain for 2017. 0-100 comes up in 4.1 seconds but reputable publications have tested it at 3.8.
The big heavy RS5 V8 has gone to gym, mainlined Phedra Cut and is now ready for the promenade. The V8 was ditched for a 2.9 V6 Twin Turbo now packing around 331kW. In sport mode I set the fastest lap in THIS car, beating my own, and others times set in TT-RS and RS3 in slippery conditions. Something that shouldn’t have happened, but did. On the highway, comfort mode allows for effortless cruising at high speeds and when at the robots, 0-100 comes up in just 3.9 seconds.
Sounds like a supercar, goes like a supercar and in any other decade would have been one. 0-100 in 3.7 seconds, just 0.1 slower than the R8 Spyder! The TT-RS can thread through a mountain pass with precision and pace and on the right road, faster than cars costing twice as much. Gone are the days of Audi Quattro’s understeering perilously to the screams of an over-excited journalist. Yes, on the limit the understeer is still there, but it’s so predictable and manageable that it feels like this is the recipe that Quattro engineers have been chasing for 30 years. Time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour Audi Sport.
That brings me back to my original point, The RS3 is so good, you could skimp on a much more expensive super saloon. The TT-RS is 80% the car the base R8 is, at 50% of the price. And the RS5 can beat them all on a good day, and drive you home in total comfort.
Audi has done what many manufacturers are afraid to do; make their cars so good they could be seen to be cannibalizing their siblings. Now that BMW and Mercedes have finally followed suit with four-wheel drive halo models, Ingolstadt to finally has the upper hand with a consistent performance range to take on the rest of Germany.