Reviews and opinion 22.11.2017 08:00 am

Audi Sport – a trio of fast RS models unleashed

Audi Sport – a trio of fast RS models unleashed

The wait to catch up to Merc AMG and BMW M was well worth it.

Sure, some might argue that it has taken Audi a little time to react to what Mercedes-AMG and BMW M have been doing for some time now, with great success I must add.

But at least Audi are really getting into the game now with their Audi Sport range of offerings and future plans, like Audi Sport accessories and parts from their performance division.

In July 2016, Audi South Africa launched the Audi Sport brand into our local market with the then new Audi R8, and it immediately became the fastest naturally aspirated car we have ever tested on the Reef.

This year, the new Audi RS 3 Sedan then went ahead and destroyed all its high performance premium competition.

And now, Audi South Africa has added three new models to their exclusive Audi Sport range.

These are the Audi RS 5 Coupe, the Audi TT RS Coupe and Audi RS 3 Sportback.

And we got to have an awesome road blast in the Western Cape last week.

Audi RS 3 Sportback

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I will start with the RS 3 Sportback, which sadly I didn’t get to drive on the road at all, but I did get to mess around very briefly with it at the Fisantekraal airstrip which, by the way, now features a very nice little go-kart type track to play on.

I think the most important factors here are that the new 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine – offering best-in-class performance – is the same one found in its RS 3 Sedan sibling.

And this should make the RS 3 Sportback faster than any of its competitors, especially if you consider the numbers the crazy fast RS 3 Sedan returned, which at 0-100km/h in 3.83 seconds and a 1km speed of 245km/h, were better than claimed.

So, the RS 3 Sportback also pushes out 294kW of power, which is only a 24kW increase over the previous model, along with 480Nm of torque.

The claim for the Sportback is 4.1 seconds to 100km/h, and an electronically limited top speed of 250km/h, and this can be moved to 280km/h on request.

Let’s see what happens when we actually put one against the clock at Gerotek, there might be a few more surprises in store.

Audi RS 5 Coupe

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Next up is the good looking and rather rapid Audi RS 5 Coupe.

I drove it straight to Fisantekraal, and my driving partner drove it from lunch back to the airport, mostly on the freeway, so I am not going to get too much into the handling details.

But I did also get to throw it around at Fisantekraal, and for a full-sized Coupe, the handling and levels of grip were impressive.

I think you should all know by now that a well composed Audi RS 5 Coupe is never going to be a tyre shredding, slightly insane BMW AUDI RS 5 COUPE M4 or Mercedes-AMG C 63 Coupe when it comes to making expensive smoke and trying to smear yourself against a mountain when you run out of talent.

But don’t mistake this composure and surefootedness as being slow.

The RS 5 is the easiest of the trio to drive fast on everyday roads, with a driver of average, or just above average skill levels, and I also think it is going to have them in a straight line, too.

The 2.9 TFSI V6 bi-turbo engine, which Audi developed from the ground up, offers 331kW of power and 600Nm of torque, which is 170Nm more than the previous model.

The claims stand at 0-100km/h in 3.9 seconds, and an electronically limited topspeed of 250km/h, that can be increased to 280km/h as an option.

The RS 5’s power flows through a sportily-tuned, eight-speed tiptronic transmission with optimised shift times, running onto quattro permanent all-wheel drive, which features a self-locking central differential.

Audi Sport also offers an optional rear sport differential.

A revised five-link suspension is used up front and, at the rear, a five-link suspension replaces the trapezoidal-link suspension.

And if you want more, Audi Sport also offers the RS sport suspension plus with Dynamic Ride Control (DRC), ceramic brakes and dynamic steering with RS-specific tuning.

Audi TT RS Coupe

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I left the little firecracker TT RS Coupe for last, because I drove it the most on the road and on the track and, man, this car hauls.

Running the same 294kW and 480Nm 2.5 TFSI as in the RS 3 models, but in a lighter body package, can only spell danger for the competition.

One could argue that the previous generation Audi TT RS was more like Porsche Cayman fast, or basically good enough to see off any production hot hatch.

But from the road test data I have seen coming out overseas, this new TT RS is going hunting in Porsche Carrera and Nissan GT-R territory, with success.

For what it is worth, Audi claim the TT RS Coupe accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 3.7 seconds, with the whole 250km/h or 280km/h thing going on again.

This is the one car I can’t wait to test this year, I think it is going to humble some traditionally fast machinery.

The power runs via a seven-speed S tronic gearbox, to quattro permanent all-wheel drive.

Its multi-plate clutch distributes power fully variably between the two axles.

Wheel-selective torque control makes handling extremely agile and safe. Audi Sport also supplies the RS sport suspension plus with adaptive dampers in magnetic ride technology.

In this case, the damping characteristic can be influenced electronically.

The control technology is integrated into the Audi drive select dynamic handling system.

That said, though, compared to the likes of the GT-like RS 5 Coupe, this car demands your attention when you are trying to set lap records on your favourite mountain pass.

If the excitement gets too much, you can use the Audi drive select system to influence the quattro drive and other components such as the steering, S tronic, engine characteristic and exhaust flaps via the four modes that are available – comfort, auto, dynamic and individual.

Should changing the modes not work for you, you can make use of ventilated and perforated steel discs behind standard 19-inch wheels – or you can opt for 20-inch forged lightweight wheels.

But all three of these new Audi Sport RS models would make a potential new owner very happy.

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