AUDI went back to the Austrian Alps for the launch of their latest supercar, the RS 3 Sportback, for that was where the story of the iconic quattro four wheel drive system started over 30 years ago which went on to revolutionise rallying and the company’s passenger cars writes Bryan Longworth.
The quattro system was first launched on the very demanding steep and winding roads of the Gurktaler Alps all those years ago so the company went back to the quattro birthplace for the Press launch of their latest sporting car as they presented the most challenging test route in Europe.
Audi now uses the quattro system in their top sporting cars and the 4x4 SUVs where it has proved to be extremely effective and the latest model, the RS 3 Sportback, also benefits from quattro all wheel drive.
The RS 3 Sportback is arguably the best of the quattro cars because its performance allowed it to charge up and down the mountain roads in sure footed style which was aided by its compact proportions especially around some of the very steep tight bends.
This is the latest in the potent Audi RS range which started in 1993 with the Avant RS 2 and I found it arguably the most satisfying and enjoyable because of its size, performance and handling qualities.
Statistically it has a governed top speed of 155mph but its acceleration of zero to 62mph in just 4.6 seconds made for some exciting sprints especially when overtaking in situations that would have been impossible in lesser cars.
This was assisted by pressing the sport button that controlled throttle response and exhaust note and despite the performance from the 2.5-litre five cylinder turbocharged 340bhp engine the average fuel consumption was around 30mpg.
The RS 3 Sportback costs £39,930 and it is so sought after that the first 500 models were snapped up before it went on sale by sporting UK motorists wanting a taste of the latest quattro experience.
The cars we drove in the Alps had plenty of optional kit on board which bumped up the price considerably and bucket seats which I am sure many of the owners will want cost just over £2,000.
This latest Audi quattro has 19-inch alloy wheels, flared lightweight carbon fibre reinforced polymer wings and widened track with prominent sill extensions, mirror casings in matt aluminium look and a large roof spoiler plus a high gloss black diffuser insert and two elliptical exhaust tailpipes giving the rear a potent appearance.
Inside there is a flat bottom steering wheel that includes paddles for manual gear changing in addition to the seven speed S tronic automatic system, that provided slick changes for the demanding Alpine route.
Overall, this latest fast Audi has truly paid homage to those classic quattros of the Eighties which helped to establish the German company as one of the world’s top manufacturers of premium sporting cars.
My Verdict: Another awesome Audi RS.
Model: Audi RS 3 Sportback.
Engine: 2.5-litre turbocharged five cylinder.
Transmission: Seven speed S tronic.
Top speed: 155mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 4.6 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 31mpg.
CO2 emissions: 212g/km.