(MENAFN - Jordan Times) Giving way to hot hatchbacks, larger premium super saloons and estates, and performance SUVs and crossovers, the small fast saloon was formerly a relatively common feature of many a car company's line-up, and an attainable entry into practical high performance motoring. Of the scant few carmakers catering to this segment, both Audi and Subaru have built their reputations on turbo charged four-wheel-drive rally success. But whereas the Japanese maker's WRX STI is a cult favourite catering to a particular market for mid-range performance cars, the Audi RS3 Sedan however takes a more premium approach.
More powerful than the Subaru WRX STI, the Audi RS3 is at the same time both more powerful and more committed to the saloon body style than its German Mercedes-AMG CLA45 rival. Similarly based on a front-drive derived platform borrowed and modified from hatchback service, the both the RS3 and CLA45 employ four-wheel-drive to better channel prodigious power. However, and with without the CLA45's pretensions to being a four-door coupe, the RS3 Sedan strike a more discernible character and offers more practicality and passenger space, and better driving visibility for parking and maneuvering.
A somewhat reserved design with a palpable sense of the dramatic, the RS3 Sedan's bodywork is sculpted and chiselled, with defined ridges and character lines along the bonnet, waistline and sills. Upright but with an arcing roofline that descend to a stubby rear deck and bootlid spoiler, the RS3's jutting rear bumper and fascia feature slim lights, dual oval big bore tailpipes and rear air splitter. From front, its' corporate Audi face features a broad and tall hexagonal honeycomb single-frame grille flanked by big air intakes and slim moody LED headlights.
Prodigious and charismatic
Powered by an enhanced iteration of Audi's familiar and now mightier than ever turbocharged direct injection 2.5-litre 5-cylinder, the RS3 Sedan's engine is mounted transversely and drives all four wheels to develop enormous traction when launching from standstill. Boosted to 2.35-bar pressure and with quick-spooling turbo allowing for almost lag-free responsiveness from idling engine speed, the RS3's fire-breathing five-pots develop a brutal 394BHP at 5850-7000rpm and 354lb/ft torque at 1700-5850rpm through a swift and slick shifting 7-speed automated dual clutch gearbox, with escalating and sportier response shift response and paddle-shift manual mode settings.
Rocketing of the line with beguiling briskness, the RS3 Sedan shatters the 0-100km/h acceleration benchmark in just 4.1-seconds and with optional speed de-restriction, can attain 280km/h, but when driven in moderation, is able to return comparatively modest 8.3/l/100km combined cycle fuel efficiency. Rasping and growing with a distinct 5-cylinder signature burble, the RS3 pulls meaningfully and cleanly from low-end cruising to its high rev limit. Meanwhile in mid-range it is abundantly muscular and capable of overtaking with effortless disdain and a torrent of torque, as it builds power with explosive urge at it top-end plateau.
Rapid and committed
Built on Audi's and Volkswagen's lightened modular MQB platform incorporating more aluminium construction and front MacPherson and rear multi-link suspension, the RS3 additionally features adaptive dampers, which along with other steering, gearbox and engine, can be set to various modes of sportiness and response. Brutally quick and reassuringly sure-footed, the RS3's Quattro four-wheel-drive drives with a slight rear bias in normal conditions for added agility through corners. However, it is also able to distribute power between front and rear for both nimble handling and tenacious road-holding through corners and in adverse weather conditions.
Capable of covering ground at a very rapid pace, the RS3 Sedan is agile and tidy into corners, where front tyres grip hard and body lean is well-controlled and poised throughout. Distributing power as and where necessary, it remains confident and committed through corners, before blasting off into the straight. Taking well to an aggressive driving style, one can turn tight and early into a corner to point the RS3 in the right direction and to pivot its weight, while its four-wheel-drive finds finds plenty of traction to effectively put power down to tarmac.
Reassuring and settled
Reassuringly stable at speed and when cruising, the RS3's steering is meaty and precise and brakes very effective and resistant to fade. Riding on the firm side, the RS3 is however more forgiving and compliant than its smaller, sportier and tauter TT RS Audi stablemate. Smooth and comfortable over minor road imperfections, the RS3 also remains settled and buttoned down on vertical rebound, while more jagged speed bumps are acceptably well absorbed for such a high performance car. Refined and quiet inside bar the evocative burbles and exhaust soundtrack, the RS3 is well insulated from noise and vibrations.
Tastefully sporty inside and out and with its saloon body style more likely to appeal to Jordanian and Middle East drivers than a hatchback design, the RS3 Sedan is uncluttered inside. Wirth clear instrumentation, one can access most controls and driving modes through the RS3's intuitive and well-equipped infotainment system. Using quality materials and finish, the RS3's has a distinctly sporty ambiance, including chunky flat-bottom steering wheel, prominent use of metal trim and comfortably supportive and body hugging sports seats. Space is good in front and rear for this compact segment, while safety and assistance feature standard and optional advanced systems.
Engine: 2.5-litre, transverse, turbocharged 5-cylinders
Bore x stroke: 82.5 x 92.8mm
Compression ratio: 10:1
Valve-train: 20-valve, DOHC, direct injection, continuously variable valve timing
Gearbox: 7-speed automated dual clutch, four-wheel-drive, electronic multi-plate clutch and differential lock
Ratios: 1st 3.563; 2nd 2.526; 3rd 1.679; 4th 1.022; 5th 0.788; 6th 0.761; 7th 0.635; R 2.789
Final drive, 1st, 4th, 5th, R / 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 7th: 4.059:1 / 3.450:1
Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 394.5 (400)  @5850-7000rpm
Specific power: 159BHP/litre
Power-to-weight: 260.4BHP/ton (unladen)
Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 354 (480) @1700-5850rpm
Specific torque: 193.5Nm/litre
Torque-to-weight: 316.8Nm/ton (unladen)
Top speed: 280km/h
Fuel consumption, urban / extra-urban / combined: 11.3 / 6.5 / 8.3-litres/100km
CO2 emissions, combined: 188g/km
Fuel capacity: 55-litres
Track, F/R: 1559/1528mm
Headroom, F/R: 993/858mm
Loading height: 672mm
Aerodynamic drag co-efficient: 0.33
Luggage volume, min/max: 315/770-litres
Unladen / kerb weight: 1515/1590kg
Steering: Electromechanical variable assistance rack & pinion
Turning Circle: 11-meters
Suspension, F/R: MacPherson struts / multi-link, anti-roll bars
Brakes, F/R: Perforated, ventilated discs, 370 x 34mm / 310 x 22mm
Brake calipers, F/R: 8-/1-piston
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