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RAY MASSEY: Audi’s new RS3 Sportback flexes its muscles

Audi’s new RS3 Sportback is a veritable mini ‘muscle car’ that exudes performance, poke and pulling power. 

Fitting then that, ahead of first deliveries this month, I should drive one from Munich through the Bavarian Alps in Southern Germany and over the border into mountainous Austria, from where muscle-bound Hollywood screen star Arnold Schwarzenegger originally hails. 

My car, however, was right-hand drive. It’s destined for the British market on UK plates featuring the new ‘UK’ sticker, which replaces the ‘GB’, and comes in a bold new colour called Kyalami Green, which I quickly dubbed Kermit Green after The Muppet Show’s star frog. 

Striking: The Audi RS3 Sportback in a bold new colour called Kyalami Green

This is the third generation RS3 and the latest car from the performance arm Audi Sport, with a mark-up of about £20,000 on the standard A3. 

But the low-riding hatchback drives like a rally car for the road with agile performance that powerfully eats up the miles whether on motorways or in the country, yet is easy to handle around busy towns and villages. 

It stuck to the road like glue around corners on near empty twisting mountain passes. 

The term hot hatch is certainly appropriate and its roaring engine evokes that childhood memory of what a sports car should really sound like. Riding on 19 in wheels, it’s powered by a feisty 400hp 2.5-litre five-cylinder TFSi petrol engine linked to a seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission with short and sporty shifts and manual paddle shift for added engagement. 

The car accelerates from rest to 62mph in just 3.8 seconds up to a top speed of 180mph where legal, such as derestricted German Autobahns. There are four trim levels: the standard RS3, Carbon Black, Launch Edition and top of the range Vorsprung. 

Prices from £50,900 for the entry-level RS3, up to £58,650 for the range-topping Vorsprung with all the bells and whistles. There’s also a saloon version priced from £51,900 to £59,650.

Will it fit in my garage?: Audi RS3 Sportback 

On sale: now

First deliveries: November

Price: from £50,900 (entry-level RS3) to £58,650 (range-topping Vorsprung)

Length: 4,389mm

Width: 1.851mm (without mirrors)Height: 1,436mm

Wheelbase: 2,631mm

Weight: 1570kg

Engine: 2.5 litre five-cylinder TFSi petrol engine linked to a

Power: 400horse-power

Transmission: 7-speed S-tronic dual clutch automatic transmission.

Driving wheels: Quattro all-wheel drive

0 to 62mph: 3.8 seconds

Top speed: up to 180mph.

Fuel economy: 31.4mpg

CO2 emissions: 205g/km

Wheels: 19-inch

Luggage capacity: 282 to 1,104 litres (rear seats down)

Trim levels: RS3, Carbon Black, Launch Edition, and Vorsprung (predicted to take 54% of sales).

CAP residual value after three years: 62%

RS 3 Saloon version: priced from £51,900 to £59,650.

Total Audi UK sales 2020: 107,892

Total Audi sales 2020: 1.69 million

Sales of previous generation RS3: 45,000

The RS3’s seven driving-mode settings include: auto; comfort; dynamic (which I used most of the time except cruising slowly in comfort through villages) and efficiency.

‘Individual’ allows you to create your own set-up.

But there are two new options. RS Performance is for driving on track circuits. 

And RS Torque Rear – which would be better called ‘Drift Mode’, is for hard-core enthusiasts which it allows to carry out ‘controlled drifts’ on closed-off tracks by sending power to one of the rear wheels as the car spins around like a participant in a ‘Fast and Furious’ movie.

To help maintain train-on-a-track like stability when cornering, the RS3 has two electronically-controlled multiple-disc clutches – one on each drive shaft – in a set-up it calls a ‘torque splitter.’

To help reduce understeer, it transfers the right amount of power to the outer rear wheel.

In simple terms, when taking tight left hand curves, it transfers the torque or ‘pulling power’ to the right wheel, and in right had curves moves it to the left wheel.

Basically, it makes you think you are a brilliant driver going around tight bends, when the clever system is doing the real work for you.

When driving straight ahead, the power is split between the wheels simultaneously.

Professional and more capable drivers (but not me) can switch off key stability controls to take tings closer to the limit on the track.

Sports suspension and optional ceramic brakes add to the fun, as do the comfortably cosseting sports seats and sporty dashboard, and flat-bottomed steering wheel.

Older motorists believe they should be retested 

Older motorists believe they should be retested every five years to ensure they are safe to continue driving, a leading road safety charity has revealed. 

Its survey of more than 3,000 motorists aged over 60 showed 55 per cent agreed that senior drivers should be retested every five years. 

Testing times: A survey of more than 3,000 motorists aged over 60 showed 55 per cent agreed that senior drivers should be retested every five years

Testing times: A survey of more than 3,000 motorists aged over 60 showed 55 per cent agreed that senior drivers should be retested every five years

Many older drivers are even willing to conduct such tests independently, with nearly two-thirds claiming they would use a DIY kit to test their fitness to drive if it were available. 

And 46 per cent supported a more flexible licensing system which might restrict older drivers to using only local roads or driving in daylight. 

Neil Greig, head of policy and research at leading road safety charity IAM ­RoadSmart which commissioned the research, said: ‘Many older drivers are confident in their driving and happy for their health and driving skills to be periodically tested.’ 

Motor industry California Dreaming as LA Motor Show resumes 

Much of the motor industry has been California Dreaming this week as the Los Angeles Motor Show resumed after last year’s cancellation caused by Covid. 

The event is significant because it reveals important pointers — with prototype and concept versions — to what we’ll soon be driving. 

Eye catching: Kia unveiled the all-electric SUV EV9 at the the Los Angeles Motor Show

Eye catching: Kia unveiled the all-electric SUV EV9 at the the Los Angeles Motor Show

Hyundai took the wraps off its large retro-future style electric SUV called the Seven, which is on track from 2024 to become the Ioniq 7 — or the third model in its electric sub-brand line-up. It will join the current Ioniq 5 and Ioniq 6 saloon, due in 2022. 

Bosses expect a ‘target range of more than 300miles’. 

Kia, meanwhile, unveiled the all-electric SUV EV9. 

It’s nearly the size of a Range Rover but likely to cost just half the price of the British firm’s planned luxury electric 4×4 which will come in at about £100,000. 

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