Audi RS3 Sportback long-term test: report 4

Back in January, we named this 394bhp rocketship the best hot hatch for daily usability, but now we're putting that verdict to the ultimate test by actually living with one...

Audi RS3 long-termer front 3/4

The car Audi RS3 Launch Edition Run by Will Nightingale, road test editor

Why it’s here To see if this 394bhp hot hatch is as easy to live with as we initially thought

Needs to Be the ultimate all-rounder: fast and thrilling when asked, but also relaxing on longer jaunts

Mileage 8625 List price £58,480 (Carbon Black) Target Price £58,480 Price as tested £62,590 (based on Carbon Black with equivalent specification) Test economy 33.4mpg Official economy 31.0mpg

6 May 2022 – Commuting in a near-400bhp hot hatchback

How far do you commute to work? In the UK, the average round trip by car is said to be around 30 miles. Mine, on the other hand, is significantly more than that, measuring a whopping 294 miles from door-to-door and back again. As you can probably imagine, that means comfort is always a welcome luxury when it comes to getting to and from work.

With that in mind, you can probably imagine the mixture of excitement and trepidation felt when I was offered the opportunity to spend a week in Will's Audi RS3. After all, comfort isn’t exactly something you’d associate with any Audi that proudly brandishes an RS badge –something that’s reserved solely for the brand’s sportiest models.

Audi RS3 long-termer rear 3/4

I needn't have worried though; thanks to the RS3’s adaptive suspension and its Comfort mode, I was in for a pleasant surprise. In fact, even on one particularly bad stretch of the M40, I found that the RS3 easily soaked up all but the largest imperfections and potholes that Britain’s motorways could throw at it. If it wasn’t for the RS badge on the steering wheel and the large bucket seats, you could almost forget that you’re not at the wheel of a normal Audi A3

In fact, considering that the RS3 is a car that’ll sprint from 0-62mph in 3.8sec – faster than a Porsche Boxster S (4.4sec) and not much slower than the V12-wielding Aston Martin DBS Superleggera (3.4sec) – it’s impressive just how good it is at making mundane trips feel special, without any of the annoying compromises that you experience in many sports cars with the same level of performance. Think jerky gearboxes in stop-start traffic. 

Even the interior is a nice place to spend time in. Yes, it's almost unchanged from the standard A3's, and it’d be easy to find the lack of RS flair a bit disappointing, especially given the price tag. However, purely in terms of comfort on a long drive, you can’t knock it. For starters, the driver’s seat remains comfortable even after a couple of hours behind the wheel, and the driving position lines you up perfectly with the pedals.

Audi RS3 driving modes

It isn’t all perfect, though, and the RS3’s main weakness as a long-distance companion is the fact that it can be rather thirsty. On a long and steady motorway journey in the most relaxed driving mode, where it should be at its most efficient, it managed to creep up to a peak of 33mpg – around 320 miles per tank. Obviously, you can’t judge a 394bhp hot hatch too harshly for a figure like that, but it’s worth keeping in mind that you’ll be spending a lot of time getting to know the cashier at your local petrol station.

That’s especially true if you switch to RS mode, which turns everything up to 11 and replaces the RS3’s comfortable civility with performance, firmness and anger. The way in which Audi has balanced both of these sides of the RS3, without either really compromising the other, is genuinely quite impressive.

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