Blast from fast | 

Audi’s RS 3 is a roarsome sight and a powerful piece of full-fat fun… at a price

​It saddens me to think that probably in less than 10 years’ time high-performance cars will be a ‘thing of the fast’.

The Audi RS 3 is as beefed up as Arnie in his prime. Picture: Paddy McGrath

The Audi RS 3. Picture: Paddy McGrath

Robbie FarrellSunday World

Audi RS 3

​It saddens me to think that probably in less than 10 years’ time high- performance cars will be a ‘thing of the fast’.

In fact, I couldn’t believe it recently when I got a call from Audi Ireland to say that they were putting a full-fat RS 3 on the press fleet.

I mean, with everything heading down the electric avenue these days and with companies like Opel saying its range will be fully electrified by 2028, it’s hard to believe there is still a market at all for high-performance petrol cars.

However, premium German brand Audi obviously still see a market for its high-performace range, otherwise it wouldn’t be rolling a new version of the RS 3 off the production line as it just has.

The Audi RS 3. Picture: Paddy McGrath

Step forward the new Audi RS 3. Up until last week, the BMW M2 was possibly my favourite hot-hatch on the market. It was the ultimate driving machine for me in every department and it’s one of the best cars I have ever driven on a track. The MINI GP has to be right up there with the M2 too.

But after getting behind the wheel of the new RS 3 there might just be a new kid on the block for me.

On the outside, the RS 3 is absolutely stunning from every single angle you look at it.

I lost count how many times people stopped me to quiz me about it during my week-long test drive. It certainly is quite the head-turner.

The German designers have gone all out this time and beefed this thing up like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his heyday.

It features massive wheel arches at the front and rear and an oversized honey-comb grille at the front end.

The front wings feature slick-looking air intakes that keep the engine and brakes nice and cool.

It sits ten millimetres lower than the already low Audi S3 and 25 millimetres lower than the standard A3

The RS 3 comes standard-equipped with flat, V-shaped LED headlights and LED tail-lights, including dynamic turn signal lights, while Matrix LED headlights are available as an option.

On the inside, yet again the designers have nailed it by continuing the honeycomb theme throughout the cabin and on the body-hugging leather seats.

Elsewhere around the cabin, the RS 3 features a slightly-updated version of the brand’s ‘virtual cockpit plus’ and the 12.3-inch digital instrument display adds sporty RS-specific information for the driver.

On the road, the new Audi RS 3 is outstanding in every department. Powered by 2.5-litre turbo-charged five-cylinder petrol engine this pocket rocket makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.

From the moment you hit the start button, especially when the engine is cold, you can hear the grumbling and it’s even louder than my stomach when I haven’t been fed – now that’s saying something.

The roar from the enormous twin tailpipes would wake the dead when you really put the foot down.

The new RS 3, which Audi claim has a combined fuel consumption of 8.2/8.8l/100 km, can sprint from 0-100km/h in just 3.8 seconds.

That is seriously fast for such a small hot-hatch. There are some super-powered cars out there that can’t do much quicker than that.

The standard RS 3 is limited to 250km/h, but options such as the RS dynamics package plus can stretch that to 290km/h if you really want to be put off the road for life. Best suited to the track I’d imagine.

Prices for the new RS 3 start at €90,295 for the Sportback and €93,805 for the saloon, which was my test model for the week. However, with a few added extras thrown on to my test car the price was driven north of €100k.

I know. That a serious figure in these penny-pinching times.

I’m not sure there is a massive market for these high-performance cars anymore but I will certainly take them while they are still going.

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