It has been like I am living in some weird high octane alternative universe where somebody has pushed the fast forward button and cars have suddenly become a whole lot quicker.
I have been testing fast cars, and slow cars, for many years now, and yes, the times have been getting quicker. But I have always felt that this shift might have been a bit more gradual than it is right now.
A month or so ago I was going on about BMW’s M760Li xDrive that drilled everything silly in its segment, and then just a week or so ago it was the turn of Mercedes-AMG’S E63 S 4Matic+ to go and upset everybody in its segment.
Well this week it is the turn of Audi’s new RS3 Sedan to chuck out numbers on my VBOX that made me reset the machine, do a coldstart and go back out again to back up the times I was seeing.
So either you have to believe the weak alternative universe theory of mine, or you’ve got to figure that somebody at Audi AG got tired of playing hot hatch games with the likes of BMW M and Mercedes-AMG, Honda Type R and Ford RS, or, in this case, compact sedan games, and decided to simply comprehensively destroy anything they have to offer from their production floors ready for the showroom with their new RS3 offering.
Until now, the premium players have been locked in a fierce battle for supremacy. I would test one of their cars, and then the tested competition would run almost identical numbers.
The cars would be facelifted and tweaked slightly a few years later and the same battle continued. So even though the RS3 Sedan here now runs 294kW, an increase of 24kW versus the previous RS3 Sportback (this is the first time the sedan is wearing the RS3 badge), I wasn’t really expecting a massive difference.
A superfast and slick shifting seven-speed S tronic, with launch control, is standard, and the gearing has been developed to be short and fast lower down and higher up.
It is a mix that certainly works for both worlds you might live in with this car, the commute and the crazy track/dragstrip day. For the record, the previous generation 270kW RS3 Sportback I tested in 2015 hit 0-100 km/h in 4.57 seconds, ran the quarter mile in 12.95 seconds at 172.85km/h, the 1km in 23.77 seconds at 220.14km/h, and went through 100 to 200km/h in 13.87 seconds.
For a compact car it was quick, but this week the new RS3 Sedan blitzed to 100km/h in a mere 3.83 seconds, the quarter mile in 12 seconds flat at 191.02km/h, the 1km at 21.95 seconds at 245.12km/h, and raced through the 100 to 200km/h sprint in just 9.45 seconds.
For those of you who aren’t into numbers, trust me, this is ridiculously fast for an everyday compact sedan, and for those that like to dig a little deeper, forget the improvements in time you see, have a look at how much faster in km/h terms this car is compared to the old one and the competition.
In fact, this RS3 Sedan saw off the likes of BMW’s M3 Competition Pack, Mercedes-AMG’s C63 S and Alfa Romeo’s Giulia QV Race Edition, that were also tested by me at Gerotek.
I deliberately don’t want to get into a top speed debate, because these things are all electronically controlled nowadays. But for what it is worth, the old RS3 Sportback was stopped at 269km, and the new sedan at 261km/h.
The speed limiter can be raised to 280km/h and, if I had one, I would probably go for this option for those days you really want to annoy M3 and C63 owners in your “little” A3.
It is the first compact Audi Sedan to bear the RS label as already said, as well as being the first to feature a transversely-mounted five-cylinder engine.
The pioneer of this design was the Audi A3 clubsport quattro concept study from 2014.
“The five-cylinder engine is a legendary element of our company’s DNA,” says Stephan Winkelmann, Managing Director of Audi Sport GmbH.
And I guess the plan to stay with the 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbocharged mill for the road car, that also pumps out 480Nm of torque all the way from 1 700rpm to 5 850rpm, worked well because this car is fast with a capital F.
And it’s not only fast in a straight line, it can hustle around corners, too, thanks to a RS3 specific software controlled quattro permanent all-wheel drive system that is nothing like the understeer monsters that Audi produced before.
Depending on your driving style and traction, between 50 and 100% of the available drive force can be sent to the rear axle.
The RS3 Sedan is said to consume 8.3-litres of fuel per 100km, but you won’t get near this if you enjoy your time in your car. I managed 11.3-litres per 100km. But do you really buy this kind of car to watch the fuel gauge? Never!
So, is there a downside to the Audi RS3 Sedan? I felt that, as the range topper, you shouldn’t have to pay for the likes of Audi virtual cockpit and MMI Navigation Plus with Audi smartphone interface, to name some of the options available.
I still think at R925 500 in standard trim, and even at R1 021 550 as tested, there isn’t another compact high performance sedan that should be on your shopping radar.