2019 Audi RS3 review – no longer the hottest of hatchbacks - Ride and handling

Audi’s RS3 and RS3 Saloon have been rejigged to meet new emissions laws, but it hasn’t upset the recipe

Evo rating
  • Stunning engine, quality cabin, improved dynamics
  • Expensive, composed but cold handling means it's faster than it is fun

Ride and handling

Next time there’s a week of rain in the middle of summer, blame RS3 drivers, because all of them will have done a rain dance, hoping for the RS3’s preferred road conditions - a wet, greasy surface, puddles, and other challenges that turn the car from massively grippy, locked-down and pretty undramatic into something a little more exuberant. 

That’s not to say the RS3 isn’t already an improvement over its immediate predecessor, because it is. Audi’s efforts to remove weight from its latest five-cylinder block mean a great deal less mass is hanging over the front wheels, and the latest four-wheel drive setup is also more willing to send power to the rear axle. As before, there's also the option of upgrading to 19-ich wheels that have a wider footprint at the front than the rear, helping to further shift the car's handling balance and introduce some mid-corner playfulness.

Subscribe to evo magazine

If you're passionate about the world's greatest performance cars, experience the thrill of driving with evo magazine. Try your first 5 issues for £5.

> Click here for our drive of the Audi S3

The combination of these factors means the chassis exhibits a more neutral front-to-rear balance than before, working all four tyres more evenly, both into, through, and out of a given corner. Turn in quickly and you’ll even find the rear stepping out a few degrees, while the same is possible with a bootful of throttle out of a tight corner - something the previous model wouldn’t have entertained if you’d tried.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

In the wet, all these characteristics are exaggerated further, and combined with strong lateral grip and fantastic traction, it’s on wet roads that the RS3 is in its element and becomes surprisingly entertaining. You can make quite remarkable progress down a country road, all the while egged on by that sonorous five-cylinder engine. 

It’d be even better if the RS3 had any real steering feel, but while the rack is consistent in its responses, it can feel overly light at times and you tend to fall back upon trusting the front tyres will grip on turn-in, rather than being able to feel it. The ride can feel overly firm too on passive dampers, but cars equipped with Magnetic Ride offer a B-road appropriate pliancy in Comfort without sacrificing too much body control.

And overall, the RS3 still doesn’t really inspire you to go for a drive just for the sake of it. Its limits are so great that approaching them requires pretty antisocial levels of speed and commitment, and at a more relaxed pace there’s little (background five-cylinder noises aside) to suggest you’re in anything more extreme than a basic A3. If you want fun rather than outright performance, there are still several other vehicles we’d recommend over the Audi.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/aston-martin/vanquish/201856/2019-aston-martin-vanquish-zagato-shooting-brake-review
Aston Martin Vanquish

2019 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake review 

Extrovert, extravagant and extraordinary to drive, this might just be the world’s ultimate estate car 
16 Oct 2019
Visit/porsche/macan/201846/2020-porsche-macan-turbo-review-still-the-class-leader
Porsche Macan

Porsche Macan Turbo review

All the usual Macan virtues, but no longer the best performance SUV to drive
16 Oct 2019
Visit/hatchback/201852/bmw-2-series-gran-coupe-ready-to-take-on-mercedes-benz-cla
hatchback

BMW 2-series Gran Coupe ready to take on Mercedes-Benz CLA

All-new front-wheel-drive 1-series spawns its first derivative: the 2-series Gran Coupe
16 Oct 2019
Visit/features/22773/goodyear-eagle-f1-supersport-chosen-by-those-in-the-know-advertisement-feature
Advertisement Feature

Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperSport - chosen by those in the know

The perfect choice for those looking to extract every last drop of performance, we run down Goodyear's Eagle F1 SuperSport range
12 Jun 2019