The Audi RS3 Sedan has finally hit showrooms in South Africa. The Ingolstadt-based company has wedged a thumping turbocharged 2.5-litre 5-cylinder engine into an A3 body equipped with a quattro drivetrain. Has this 4-door got what it takes to defeat these much-vaunted rivals?
Yes, the RS3 Sportback has been on the market for a while, but for some reason, it’s the sedan that has got us the most excited. It may be because the A3 Sedan just seems to be a bit better looking and have less of a juvenile hot hatch racer demeanour about it, maybe not.
With a lightened 5-pot (with peak outputs of 294 kW with 480 Nm of torque) under the bonnet, it’s the class leader in terms of vital statistics. But just who else is in that class? And, do they stand a chance against the rocket car from Ingolstadt? A few more key figures just to keep in mind as we list the rivals of the RS3 Sedan:
0-100 kph: 4.1 seconds
Top speed: 250 kph (limited)
Average fuel consumption: 8.3L/100 km
Weight: 1 510 kg
Price: R925 500 (August 2017)
1. BMW M2
The M2 is the obvious rival, despite having fewer doors. Doors aren’t really a focal point when performance is the key factor buyers are after. The BMW M2 uses a six-cylinder turbocharged engine to do the dirty work under the bonnet. It delivers 272 kW and 465 Nm which translates into a 0-100 kph time of 4.3 seconds. The Audi has the bimmer licked on performance in a straight but has a few trump cards available in the handling department. The limited slip rear differential for one makes sure power is sent perfectly to the wheel that will provide the best traction. The Audi has a new torque transferring system that allows between 50 and 100% of the power to be sent to the rear wheels when driving sportily. It’s an improvement for Audi, but can it match the lauded handling prowess of what’s probably BMW best M car at the moment?
Price: R968 910 (coupe auto August 2017)
2. Mercedes-AMG CLA45 4Matic
The CLA45 has recently seen the introduction of the Yellow Night Edition, which sends the bling level of the CLA to stratospheric levels. If you want to be noticed, then of all the competitors, this is the car you choose. It also uses a different cylinder setup, with Merc choosing a 4-cylinder turbocharged unit capable of a hefty 280 kW and 475 Nm. It’s acceleration time is the closest to the RS 3 with it being claimed at 4.2 seconds to 100 kph. The Merc has the barkiest set of exhaust pipes of the lot and feels the most racy to sit in with extremely firm bucket seats and Alcantara gleefully spread throughout the cabin. It’s cornering ability is pretty good too with the 4Matic all-wheel drive system constantly altering the direction of the front end to make it feel nimble and agile. If you don’t opt for the Yellow Night package it is R40 000 cheaper than the RS 3 and nearly R90 000 cheaper than the M2.
Price: R880 314 (Yellow Night Pack R985 314)
3. Porsche Cayman S auto
The RS3 Sedan has priced itself into the hands of Porsche. While the Cayman might not be able to seat 4 comfortably or carry as much luggage, it’s an outright sportscar, with a Porsche badge no less. With its new 4-cylinder 2.5-litre turbo motor the Cayman S is a little underpowered in this company. It has 257 kW and 420 Nm and will do 0-100 kph in 4.4 seconds. Opt for the Sports Chrono package and that number drops to 4.2 seconds. The Cayman is over 100 kg lighter than the RS3 Sedan and sits 100 mm lower to the ground.
The Cayman is renowned for its great chassis and handling ability but its lack of audible drama might leave some feeling a bit short-changed as the Audi’s pipes spike the heart rate every time it burbles and crackles.
The RS 3 Sedan is certainly in for a tough time from this company, but with all its upgrades and modifications to the drivetrain and torque distribution, this is its best shot so far.