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Audi RS 3 Sportback

THE POWER TO CORRUPT (some text hidden)

By Jonathan Crouch

Audi's sledgehammer RS3 tears up the hot hatch rulebook. Jonathan Crouch reports on the latest 400PS version.

Ten Second Reviewword count: 44

We thought the last Audi RS 3 Sportback with 367PS was fast enough, but this latest 400PS version sets a fresh benchmark. Add in a talented chassis with a wider track and a clever all-wheel drive system and stand well back. This one's explosive.

Backgroundword count: 123

When dealing with the Audi RS 3 Sportback, a little context pays dividends. You see, this uber-hot hatch now fronts up with 400PS. In case you were wondering, that's more than the amount developed by a twelve-cylinder Ferrari Testarossa, and more than the first Porsche 911 GT3. So, yes, it's got some real brawn about it. This is the third time we've seen an RS 3. The first one was a 340PS monster introduced in 2010, eventually eplaced by a 367PS model in 2014. In many ways, the formula of this latest 400PS car hasn't differed much. There's still a 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbocharged engine driving all four wheels. It's just that now you get a bit more of everything. More is better, right?

Driving Experienceword count: 270

Audi makes great play of the fact that this 400PS RS 3 Sportback has shaved some 26kg off the weight of its 367PS predecessor, which coupled with the power increase, significantly improves its power to weight ratio, making it better than cars like, say, the Lotus Exige S or a V8 BMW M5. More than a Porsche 911 Carrera or a Mercedes SLC 43 AMG too. Now you see quite what sort of company the RS 3 Sportback can mix it in. With the benefit of all-wheel drive, it'll scuttle to 62mph in just 4.1 seconds (0.2s quicker than before) and run onto a restricted maximum of 155mph, although this can be derestricted to 174mph if you pay extra for the 'dynamic package plus'. A light multi-plate clutch mounted at the rear axle has the ability to transfer between 50 and 100 per cent of power to the rear wheels. Audi even reckons that on slippery surfaces, this thing will drift like a rear-driver. As for the engine, well it's much the same 2.5-litre five cylinder TFSI turbo unit that was used previously and is closely related to the powerplant found in the current TT RS. It puts out 480Nm of torque (15Nm more than before) and transmits it all to the tarmac via a seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch transmission and, of course, quattro all-wheel-drive. Maximum torque is readily available across a broad plateau, which means that you'll rarely be caught off boost. A widened track, bigger brakes and tyres, retuned ESP stability control and a sharpened suspension setup lowered by 25mm distinguish the RS 3 from a standard Sportback.

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