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Audi RS3 pumps up the tech

The performance variant of the A3 range is all about experience, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

A few years ago, Audi’s A3 range ushered in a new era of digital cockpit and infotainment design, making the most of vastly improved computing power on board.

It is not surprising, then, that the performance variants of the range pump up the tech to a new level.

The Audi RS 3 Sedan, launched late last year, is a high-performance sedan powered by a 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder inline engine that produces 294 kW and 500 Nm of torque. The engine is paired with a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission and all-wheel drive system, and advertises acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.8 seconds.

The on-board tech pairs a 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster using the Audi virtual cockpit that came into its own on the A3 two years ago. The expansive screen gives the driver a large navigation display, and the cluster can be customised to different modes and views, including a lap timer and a G-force meter.

That last feature tells you a lot about the performance aspect of the car. RS stands for RennSport, which translates well from the German, to racing sport. That means the vehicle is driver- and experience-focused. This was also the idea behind the revamped virtual cockpit, and it comes into its own as it tracks performance in every sense of the word.

It goes without saying that the infotainment system supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but it was disappointing to find that the latter still demanded a USB cable to connect to a smartphone, rather than allowing wireless mirroring.

That was partly compensated for with a full suite of safety features, including lane departure warning system, blind spot monitoring, and a pre-collision warning system with automatic emergency braking.

Even the Bang & Olufsen sound system, with 15 speakers and total output of 705 watts, comes with safety features. A loudness limiter prevents the sound from becoming too loud, and a fatigue detection system alerts the driver if they are starting to become drowsy.

I’m not a fan of heads-up displays (HUDs), as they are not friendly to bright sunshine or dark glasses, and the replacement price of a cracked windscreen is ludicrous. That said, the RS 3 not only provides a sharp and clear HUD that projects speed, lane-keeping and navigation information onto the windscreen, but also differentiates it substantially. When the driver hits the RS button on the steering wheel, activating performance mode, the HUD is transformed, bringing in added colour and an oil temperature gauge.

The car has three regular modes, namely Comfort for a quiet ride, Auto as a default, and racy Dynamic, which can all be selected from rocker switches below the infotainment screen. One can further customise two RS modes on the infotainment display, choosing Drive Modes between Balanced and Sport, and Suspension modes between Comfortable, Balanced and Sport. It includes a variety of other settings, including an adjustable engine sound, which will no doubt please the petrolheads.

The infotainment system is user-friendly – absence of wireless Android aside. The system can be controlled by the touchscreen, the steering wheel controls, or voice commands.

Overall, the Audi RS 3 Sedan is a high-performance sedan that offers excellent performance, handling, and comprehensive on-board technology and customisation. The RS 3 Sedan is all about the pleasure of the ride, but going all-in on the tech means it can be fine-tuned to every driver’s personal style.

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