Driven - November 2017

Audi Sport Launch – A day with the RS3, RS5 and TTRS

Audi Sport Launch in South Africa

When a launch comprises of three different vehicles, all of which produce over 290kW and reach 100km/h just over 4 seconds, one tends to give off a childlike giggle. As car enthusiasts, these type of days don’t come around often – contrary to popular belief, but when they do, we get excited.

The Audi Sport launch in Cape Town put us behind the wheel of three Audi RS models. The facelifted RS3 Sportback and sedan, the aggressive TTRS and a car which many have been waiting for – the new Audi RS5.

Starting a Monday morning on a red-eye flight out of Durban is something I dread, but even with just a few hours of sleep the night before, my mind was buzzing because of what lay ahead. Upon arriving, a beautiful array of vehicles were set before us, like a lovely high-performance buffet. I must say, Audi’s RS colour pallet is something I’m fond of. While many may be put off by a bright yellow or a bold green, 0-100 km/h in three point something seconds just doesn’t justify black or white in my opinion.

On that point, Francisco and I jumped into a Sonoma Green RS5 and headed to a small airfield where some petrol headed antics awaited us. Initially, the new RS5 gave me an impression of a slightly beefed up S5. Even so, it made one hell of a sound and went like the clappers. The Quattro system gives the car a softer edge. It certainly doesn’t feel as aggressive as a BMW M4, but with power figures of 331kW and 600Nm it did give us something to think about. How does the new Audi RS5 compare to its biggest rival, the BMW M4 and Mercedes’ C63? Francisco goes into detail on that very subject here.

Nothing gets grown men worked up like a gymkhana challenge and that’s exactly what we were going to do in all these RS’s. Before that, a quick chat and interview with Audi Sport racing driver Kelvin van der Linde and DTM driver Mattias Ekstrom kept us entertained as war stories were told. Hearing these stories inspired most of us, as we prepared to tame the gymkhana styled time trial and the 200m drag race. Cue the childlike giggles once again.

First in order for us was the drag races and after having our fun with like for like models, we decided to pitch the Audi RS3 up against the new Audi RS5. What happened next caught our attention. The RS5 simply had better off the line traction each time and won most of the time, This didn’t stop the underdog RS3 from sticking to its coattails however and at times even closing the gap.

There is no doubt about it, the new Audi RS3 is an absolute weapon. It features a power increase of 24kW over the previous model, bringing the total output to 294kW from a new 2.5l five-cylinder engine. This now makes it the most powerful production five-cylinder engine on the market. It’s also transversely mounted, weighs 24 kg less and sounds as good as ever thanks to the unique 1-2-4-5-3 firing order.

Next, we each had the chance to set a time in each of the vehicles around the Gymkhana styled time trial. This consisted of slaloms, hairpins, a chicane, all ending with a high-speed breaking challenge, which required us to stop in a box. As much fun as this was, this allowed us to experience the dynamic ability of each car and quite frankly, the TTRS took the cake here. Stepping inside the racing styled cockpit was enough to make you go faster, but its lightweight agile chassis and ridiculous power from the same five-cylinder engine featured in the RS3, definitely helped. I was never a huge fan of the TT, perhaps due to my “younger” days when the previous generation was known as a “hairdressers” car. I now look at the new  TTRS with newly found respect. One would need to be a bloody good hairdresser to afford one of these.

After our fun and games at the track, we headed out to drive the cars where most would experience them, the road. It’s pretty obvious to all that these cars are pretty quick, but the realisation of how fast they really are becomes a reality when driving them on tight roads instead of wide open spaces. All three vehicles feature 0-100 km/h times of just under or just over 4 seconds. The RS3 has an official time from Audi of 4.1 seconds, but it’s broken the 4 second barrier in local other tests. These aren’t supercars either and it raises the question of how much faster are cars going to get? Due to advances in technology and smart all-wheel drive systems, these cars can all be enjoyed and experienced fairly safely, by drivers who probably aren’t highly skilled.  A great deal of self-control is needed to not to boot it on every journey, because the sheer acceleration and noise from these cars is pure delight. This is especially the case in the RS5, which gives you the right blend of comfort and speed. If you’re not careful you find yourself aimlessly chasing the next gear, the next engine blip and the next corner. in terms of everyday performance, these are fantastic drivers cars.

The RS3 exudes a young, hooligan, supercar disrupter type of feel. This would be my pick of the bunch, in Sportback guise. Each RS model offers something unique and exciting. Audi Sport have really done well with these new models. It’s evident that Audi are on a mission to break stereotypes and we are excited to see what comes of the next 12 months.

Audi Sport Pricing in South Africa

Audi RS5: R1 285 500

Audi TTRS: R963 000

Audi RS3 Sedan: R 925,500

Audi RS3 Sportback: R 895,500

Also published on Medium.