We drive the all-new Audi RS 3
Archibalds Photographer and Vehicle Support Specialist, Jack Morgan, took the Audi RS 3 out for a spin up the Port Hills and Godley Head. Read on to find out what he thought.
So does the Audi RS 3 meet the hype?
The answer is an astounding yes! With the combination of break-neck speed, unrelenting grip, and a compact size, it’s hard to look past the Audi RS 3. Especially this year, with the addition of the all new Torque Splitter, Audi has made huge improvements with putting down power to the wheels.
Now this isn’t the only thing that’s changed on this year’s model, with many new additions there is plenty to talk about. All these additions are great, and driving this compact weapon is an unrivaled experience, however it begs the question: is it everything it’s talked up to be?
Driving the Port Hills never felt so good.
As a full-time car photographer, I often see and ride in a lot of cool cars and my experience with the RS 3 was no different. After receiving an email about its launch, I just had to put it to the test. Luckily, Christchurch just so happens to have the perfect landscape to drive a vehicle such as this, and with the Port Hills close by I set out to find its happy place. Within a 20 minute drive from Christchurch, you’ll find some incredible locations to view the sunrise on the horizon. As 5:30am rolls round, my garage door opens to find a sleeping beauty. The sports exhaust roars to life at the touch of a button, starting a journey to the stunning Godley Heads. As I drive the empty early morning roads, the clouds were starting to form, ready for the early morning light to paint them in a pink and orange glow.
The tight corners and steep roads of the heads were no problem for the RS 3 as it maintained full grip without a single loss of traction, which really showed off the Torque Splitter technology. Activate RS Performance Mode, though, and this already fully capable vehicle really shows its true power. Through clever technology the car immediately switches stance, going from a comfortable but capable daily run-around to a purpose-built track car with the flick of a button. The difference is noticeable straight away; the RS exhaust immediately much more pronounced, suspension stiffened, and a much faster throttle response.
With a whopping 401hp to all four wheels, the RS 3 refused to relent around the windy Godley heads road. As most Christchurch residents are aware, the Godley Head roads often aren’t known to be the smoothest. This didn’t matter though, the RS 3 ate every bump, intelligently transferring the correct amount of power to each wheel to avoid any possibility of under-steer.
Audi are known for building great driving vehicles and this is no exception. The dual clutch transmission makes shifting as smooth as butter, you won’t even notice it while driving around town. Click the RS button on the steering wheel and you’ll find yourself in comfort mode. At slower speeds, the large 19-inch alloy wheels do transfer some bumps into the cabin, but these impacts aren’t too bad. With adaptive dampers specified, the sports suspension can be softened off into comfort mode which also drops the sensitivity of the accelerator, making it much easier to cruise through town.
What is different about this version of RS 3?
So, what has changed about the RS 3 then? Well, through clever research and development, Audi went all-in on the RS 3, creating a brand-new torque-vectoring rear axle that puts the previous generation to shame. Named the ‘Torque Splitter’, this adds variable lockup clutch packs to each axle half shaft, allowing the computer to fully regulate the amount of power going to either rear wheel. This means that up to 50% of the engine’s power is shifted backwards by the centre differential and a further 100% of power can be sent to either rear wheel. This ensures that the right amount of torque is optimally distributed along the rear axle. During more dynamic driving, the torque splitter increases the drive torque to the outer rear wheel with the higher wheel load which significantly reduces the tendency to understeer. In left-hand curves it transmits the drive torque to the right rear wheel, in right-hand curves to the left rear wheel, and when driving straight ahead to both wheels.
The new technology also makes controlled drifts on closed-off tracks possible. In this case, the torque splitter directs all the power to only one of the rear wheels, with up to 1,750Nm per wheel possible. Audi even developed a driving mode specifically for the RS 3 for this purpose – “RS Torque Rear” – as a drift mode with its own characteristic curve for the torque splitter.
These modes can be selected via the Audi Drive Select Driving Dynamics System, which also offers Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, RS Individual, and Efficiency modes.
Okay, we get it’s fast but is it comfortable?
Up until now we’ve pretty much only covered its power and speed capabilities, but that’s not all cars are about. No one wants to drive around in a car that’s uncomfortable. After all, most of our driving experience is spent inside the car, so let’s talk about the interior.
Step inside the cockpit of the RS 3 and you’ll find a technological time capsule. You’ll find yourself surrounded by the latest and greatest technology, with touch screens and perfectly thought out buttons. The leather stitched seats hold you nice and snug, while also heated and cooled at the touch of a button. A well designed steering wheel also makes a huge difference to the experience, with intuitive button placement, you won’t find yourself getting confused while trying to focus on the road. The leather material makes your hands glide over the steering wheel with ease, just adding to the premium experience.
Audi is not a company to cheap out on the driving experience. No expense was spared when designing the cockpit of this rapid machine. It’s arguably my favourite part of the whole experience and sitting in what feels like a spaceship surrounded by incredible technology, makes getting anywhere a pleasurable experience. Built-in Audi Connect system allows for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto which makes connecting your phone a breeze. Simply turn on the car, click the media button on the infotainment screen, and instantly bump some of your favourite tunes – you’re living, baby! Speaking of which, Bang and Olufsen speakers provide a next-level audio experience and with incredible speakers surrounding the entire interior, you’ll always have perfect sound.
So, is the RS 3 worth it then?
Absolutely. If you’ve made it this far, you’ll know my thoughts already. The 2022 Audi RS 3 left a lasting impression on me. I was left searching for more, and wishing I had more time with it. Through incredible design decisions, and an extremely well built engine, the RS 3 is a hard car to beat. You’ll find yourself stepping out of work to see your brand new RS 3, patiently waiting, ready to be driven.
Ignite your new-found passion for cars, and take it for a test drive. You won’t regret it.