The new Audi RS3 is a small family car with a power output not dissimilar to a Porsche 996 Turbo, Ferrari 360 Modena or Aston Martin DB7 Vantage. That is quite unsettling to contemplate, says Chris Knapman in The Daily Telegraph. Don’t go thinking that the little Audi must then be dynamically inadequate by comparison either. “The depressing truth for all those Ferrari and Aston Martin owners (or indeed those who still dream of one day becoming one) is that the Audi will run four rings around them.
The Porsche might be a slightly tougher nut to crack, but still you shouldn’t bet against the one that will transport four adults and a weekly shop.” This is a “fundamentally well sorted” family car that will whisk you from rest to 60mph in four seconds and on to a top speed of 174mph (if you tick the right box on the options list), and is as happy and as much fun on windy country roads as it is devouring miles on the motorway. “From a family car? That’s just silly.”
This third incarnation of the model is the fastest and best yet, agrees Dan Prosser in Evo. It is the most powerful small saloon you can buy (or hot hatch, depending which body style you go for), and its combination of handsome styling, muscular performance and high-quality cabin have made it a hit with buyers. Driving enthusiasts had been less keen on its somewhat one-dimensional dynamics, but this new model is an improvement and is more engaging to drive. Indeed it is, says Miles Branman on Digital Trends. “Genuine surprises are rare, but when one comes along it’s worth savouring.” Audi’s “fun-sized” family car is far greater than its looks or the numbers would suggest. “Straight-line thrills can get old, but stellar driving dynamics do not.” On that score, this Audi is an “unmitigated triumph”.
Price: from £45,250 (saloon)
Power: 395bhp at 5,850rpm
Torque: 354lb ft at 1,700rpm
Top speed: 174mph (with options)
0-62mph: 4.1 seconds