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Audi RS3 Sportback review - the most powerful hot hatch ever built, but does it deliver?
The new RS3 is, as it stands, the most powerful hot hatch ever built. With four-wheel drive and a twin-clutch gearbox it’s a formidably rapid cross-country machine with enough raw pace to trouble much more expensive machinery. It’s also a practical and very useable car, too, but sadly it just isn’t as much fun to drive as a hot hatch should be on an engaging stretch of road.
The progress Audi has made between the previous RS3 and this one is notable, although it remains a slightly heavy-footed, uninvolving performance car compared to the best in class. The character and sound of the five-cylinder turbo engine is a highlight, though.
Better to avoid optional fripperies like the £495 carbon fibre pack for the engine bay and £325 cost for the red painted brake calipers. Instead money is probably better spent on the comfortable super sports seats which cost £795. They add a bit more of that RS feel to the car which otherwise can appear little more than a standard S3 on the inside.
This Audi lacks the piercing focus of the hardcore A45 AMG but is a more enjoyable, more rounded car and feels much less one-dimensional. On the ractrack it'll even allow you to throw it into corners in a deliberate near-spin and then pulls you clear in a cloud of smoke and a gale of laughs.
In fact, given the space to really take the RS3 by the scruff, it displays a really indulgent, fun side. It's a shame that for the most part on the road it feels just a little uptight. In summary, much better than the old car but nothing like as spectacular as the spec sheet suggests.
Jethro Bovingdon, evo 210