North America loves pick up trucks and SUV’s, the sedan may become an endangered species, and that’s the current altered state of the automobile world.
So the weirdos who still like cars, even little ones, are lucky that they are still being made. We can pinch pennies and buy a Kia Rio, a Nissan Versa or a Toyota Corolla. A lucky few will go full throttle with a fast, beautiful, tiny rocket such as the Audi RS 3, proving that it is possible to spend at least $60,000 grand on a compact car.
But that’s just the starting price. I test drove the RS 3 in Technik trim, and after $12,750 in options, the total price was $77,745. Breathtaking yes, but worth it if you love speed, and superb handling and have the money to pay for it.
The love affair with this car starts with an award winning, great sounding 2.5 litre 5-cylinder engine. That’s the hub that produces 400 horsepower coupled with 354 lb.-ft of torque. It’s a dragon slayer, capable of chilling speed, but cloaked in the confident handling that is an Audi trademark.
It snowed constantly during the week I had the RS 3, which demonstrated the capability of the Quattro all wheel drive system. Snow-no problem, rough roads-it smoothly adjusts, the RS 3 has a personality to fit any driving situation. And when the opportunity arises it will do 0-100 km/h in 4.1 seconds. The 7-speed
S tronic automatic transmission shifts expertly.
It’s speedy, it’s supple, steering is laser sharp, the
RS 3 is a revelation for those who love an engaging drive.
Inside this Audi is a lesson in clean, uncluttered design. The important controls like temperature and fan are adjusted with buttons, most other functions work through a computer interface. Audi’s virtual cockpit is one of the best out there. It puts essential information right in front of you on the dash, with rich, readable graphics and saturated colour in the navigation maps. Fuel efficiency, speed, and entertainment info can all be displayed so that eyes don’t have to leave the road.
The bolstered seats are excellent in the front, but back seat seating is snug as you might expect in a compact car. Where it counts-from the driver’s seat, it’s all positive in the cabin. Visibility is excellent, controls within each reach, and the quality of the knobs, switches, seat details is a pleasure to view. And the dimensions are just right, small enough to feel intimate, but not cramped. It’s the correct sort of architecture to enhance the feeling of speed and being in control of the car.
There’s not much to crab about except maybe the price. It is possible to chip away at that $77,000 plus price tag. Deleting the ceramic brakes would erase $5,800, and passing over the special $800 paint job would help. But most drivers would want the $1,400 optional Technology package that includes lanes assist, and adaptive cruise control.
So the Audi RS 3 is one of those bucket list cars for people who adore driving and appreciate engineering.
Get in it, get on it and get out of town.
Kathy Renwald is an award winning freelance journalist and a regular columnist for the Bay Observer, Hamilton Spectator, Grand Magazine and Wheels.ca. She covers city issues, lifestyle and autos.