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Racing Teatray

RS3 Sportback

Well, also on Saturday, post my F-Type drive, I also popped into Ipswich Audi to see what they had kicking around and managed to finally get to try out the current shape RS3 Sportback. I say current shape, but it transpires that production has ended due to the facelift of the A3 range and when it reappears it may be only in saloon form. Never mind, a saloon RS3 may be equally desirable, being a rather prettier base car to start with.

Everything I said about the S3 here (http://themotor.myfastforum.org/about22090.html) in terms of interior obviously applies equally to an RS3, although this particular Approved Used example (which was a searing orange-red colour) had red highlights on the vents and red-edged seatbelts that made it a little less coal-hole than usual.

So I'll concentrate on the drive. Sadly this was a normal test-drive rather then Jag-style "waive you off with the keys for an hour" but the salesman was affable and not remotely fazed by time or speed constraints, so I did get a good go in it. The first thing I noticed was that I much preferred the DSG 'box in the RS3 to the auto in the F-Type. It felt crisper and more responsive, and just generally more alert more of the time. The second thing I noticed is that it is blisteringly quick. Of course the auto 'box flatters this, but it felt another league faster than the M135i. The third thing you notice is quite what an astonishingly good noise it makes. It is the defining feature of the car. The giggle factor. The "I want one" factor. Rendered more so for the sheer implausibility of hearing such a thing in an A3 Sportback. It sounds properly exotic when you give it some beans. There's a fantastic warble and the noise sounds like it comes from the engine rather than merely the exhaust (notwithstanding that this particular car was fitted with the optional Sport exhaust system). It's a completely different sound to the cultured howl of the BMW straight six and sounds like a refugee from a proper balls-out sports car. It was reminding me heavily of something and it finally dawned towards the end of the drive there are distinct similarities to the sound my E60 M5 made. Perhaps not surprising given one is a 5-pot and the other a V10.

So I definitely enjoyed driving it. No the handling, from what I could evince, wasn't on a par with the F-Type, although it had a similar tenacity of grip, feeling tied down in a way alien to my car. And the steering is pretty numb and the ride is pretty stiff-legged. It's all very safe rather than thrilling. You get your thrills from the implausible rate at which you are reeling in the horizon and that fabulous soundtrack. But if you don't live on the edge of a handy moor and your driving routine doesn't offer many opportunities to exploit a really good chassis, then this is a pretty compelling car (eye-popping price tag apart). I could see one fitting into my life remarkably easily if I wanted a like-for-like replacement for the M135i. It has all the plus points of the M135i, but it's quicker, sounds even better, has the security of 4WD (you need to be relatively circumspect in the wet/cold in an M135i), has a London-friendly auto 'box and better-looking (outside at least still not entirely sold on the interior). The fact that the next version may be saloon-only is also interesting because my wife far prefers the saloon shape and particularly liked the A3 saloon rent-a-car we had in Piemonte last September.

I didn't take any photos, but this is the car I drove: http://www.audi.co.uk/used-cars/u...61302-15107.aspx?srcmdc=se_ce_re_
Frank Bullitt

One crossed in front of me at a roundabout yesterday at full-chat and it sounds a fantastic thing, we followed one a while back on he M6 and even at light throttle openings as the path cleared it sounded wonderful.

They have an undeniable 'want one' factor, after seeing one last night I was overtaken by the ubiquitous Golf R (in the blue colour with a git-plate of course) and it looked like a pail imitation by comparison.
Big Blue

Ah. I was looking at red RS3s just the other day. My question is do they have the keep-long-term-as-enthusiasts-will-want-one-in-the-future factor?

They're still a bit steep used but after your write up I can see why.
simonp

Apparently the saloon is a bit nicer to drive because of the slightly longer wheelbase and I think the track may be a little wider, too.
Martin

Interesting review. I agree that the saloon looks better, but the ride/handling/steering sounds disappointing and you benefit from that area all the time, whereas you can't use all the performance that often.

Have you tried a 911 yet? I bet a nice 997 with Sports Exhaust would tick the performance and sound boxes and give you something that you'd enjoy driving all the time, even in traffic. I only have to go as far as the roundabout at the end of the road to get a smile on my face, the feel of the steering when you turn in followed by the way it pivots around the corner...I won't go on.
Racing Teatray

Martin wrote:
Interesting review. I agree that the saloon looks better, but the ride/handling/steering sounds disappointing and you benefit from that area all the time, whereas you can't use all the performance that often.

Have you tried a 911 yet? I bet a nice 997 with Sports Exhaust would tick the performance and sound boxes and give you something that you'd enjoy driving all the time, even in traffic. I only have to go as far as the roundabout at the end of the road to get a smile on my face, the feel of the steering when you turn in followed by the way it pivots around the corner...I won't go on.


No, not yet. And I am sure you are right. But I have to face up to the fact that 90% of my driving is amply performed by my wife's Fiat 500 Twinair, a car rightly not particularly known for either its B-road handling prowess or steering feel. Neither of those things is relevant in or around London, or on motorways so I think it's entirely wrong in my case to say that one benefits from handling and steering all the time. So long as they are broadly decent (which they are in most modern cars), then neither is of major relevance. Ride is important in an urban setting and on motorways, although the only two cars I've driven where the urban ride was actively terrible was my wife's old Smart and an Alfa Brera on big alloys.

No, where the Fiat scores around town is by being nippy if you spank it (and it likes a good spank), by making a hilarious noise, having a perfectly positioned gearshift, being small enough to get through most gaps (and easy to judge) and just generally being puppyishly eager to drive.

It would of course be hopeless on a B-road where it would roll and lurch, and generally be completely out of its depth.

This is probably why I've held on to the M135i so long. It offers a compromise that works for me - it's not the ultimate B-road weapon but it can make a very decent fist of it when required and it does all the urban and motorway bits well, whilst being able to take five people and a reasonable quantity of luggage.

So I can afford to take a relaxed view of out-and-out handling prowess because for me it just isn't relevant most of the time. I need to look for the giggle factor in other things, such as gorblimey acceleration or a ridiculous soundtrack.

A Mustang would be perfect, except it's too big and not quite my style. An RS3 saloon on the other hand is smaller and more my kind of thing.
Racing Teatray

Big Blue wrote:
Ah. I was looking at red RS3s just the other day. My question is do they have the keep-long-term-as-enthusiasts-will-want-one-in-the-future factor?

They're still a bit steep used but after your write up I can see why.


Interesting you should say that. On the first generation RS3, depreciation would appear to be on a par with my M135i, which is to say reasonable without being amazing. I can say that with reasonable confidence as the Ipswich dealer also had this 62-plate RS3 with about 30K on the clock, so same age and mileage as my car (as well as same general colour scheme).

It would have been about 43k OTR new judging from the options, whereas my M135i was 36k OTR with options new (not that I paid 36k). The RS3 was stickered at 25k and I reckon a BMW dealer would probably ask 22k for mine approved-used. So the RS3 would set you back 58% of the original OTR and the M135i around 61%.

Big Blue

I'm concerned at oversupply of the M135i. In the cold light of day it's the ideal car to buy W2.0 as it tootles around yet if I want to clear its throat it will be a fun job doing so. I've spent too much this year anyway and next year looks to be a financial consolidation year (as I'll be 50 the year after that and intend to live like an ageing rock star for a month or two) so I'm pissing in the wind really.
Martin

I understand and we all have different requirements.   Like a lot of people, mine change daily, which is why it's ideal to have 2-3 (or more ideally) cars that complement each other.  

My point wasn't about 'out and out handling prowess' though, it was that in some cars you can get an lot of enjoyment out of driving at normal / low / traffic regulated speeds.
Racing Teatray

Big Blue wrote:
I'm concerned at oversupply of the M135i. In the cold light of day it's the ideal car to buy W2.0 as it tootles around yet if I want to clear its throat it will be a fun job doing so. I've spent too much this year anyway and next year looks to be a financial consolidation year (as I'll be 50 the year after that and intend to live like an ageing rock star for a month or two) so I'm pissing in the wind really.


I wouldn't worry overly about oversupply on M135is - a lot of that is base-spec 3drs thanks to the PCP craze (which punishes a good raid on the options list). The likelihood is that it will not be replaced directly as the next 1-series is almost certainly not RWD, thus the M135i/M140i will bear the moniker of being the last RWD 6-cylinder hatchback. Look at how prices for decent well-specced 130is have held up. You can easily pay north of 10k for a car which is nigh-on 10 years old.
Martin

The good deals continue on the M140i, Broadspeed will get you one for 26,000 and I've just had an email with a 359 down / 359 a month offer.
Racing Teatray

Martin wrote:
The good deals continue on the M140i, I've just had an email offering one for 359 down / 359 a month.


Try adding options...
Martin

I know the impact only too well, the end monthly cost on the 535d was very different to the start point!

It means that supply of low spec cars will continue to flow.
Racing Teatray

If I didn't already own an M135i, I would be very tempted by an M140i at the current offer prices. Particularly as you can now get one in Melbourne Red, which is a colour that suits the car. However, there's no logic in replacing an immaculate 4 year old car with 28k on the clock with a new car that is merely a lightly tweaked version of the same thing unless one has money to burn. Be rather boring if nothing else.
gooner

It's almost a certainty that the next hot-ish version of the 1 series will be 4 cylinders not 6 and even the propped full house M car will probably be the same, which could make yours very much sought after, especially if you dabbled rather liberally in the options list. Changing now would probably cost much more than you'd be gaining for some time.
Andy C

Interesting review. The engine sounds amazing ,I'd love a go in one

How 'normal' does this look for a car with 367bhp
http://www.audi.co.uk/used-cars/u...36416-36637.aspx?srcmdc=se_na_re_
Nice Guy Eddie

I might have missed it but why have you not looked at the M2?

Too much like the 135i to justify the cost difference? I imagine you can get an M3 for not much more than a new RS3 if an M2 fails to float ones boat
Racing Teatray

Waiting list on M2 is exceptionally daft.

I have looked at the M4. Not been able to arrange a testdrove though. Ipswich BMW did have a demo but had sold it just hours before I arrived!
simonp

Only thing that puts me off the Audi is the headlights...

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