The new Audi RS 3 Sportback* completes the Ingolstadt premium automaker’s sporty vanguard in the compact segment. Following the world premiere of the RS 3 Sedan* at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, the RS 3 Sportback now stands poised to make its entry at the Geneva International Motor Show. With the most powerful production five-cylinder in the world, outstanding dynamism and an even sharper look, the car offers an emotional driving experience.
“The Audi RS 3 Sportback offers our customers an attractive introduction to the RS world,” said Stephan Winkelmann, CEO of Audi Sport GmbH. “Since 2011 the sporty compact model has proved itself extremely successful on the market. And with the new five-cylinder engine, the Audi RS 3 Sportback is at the head of its class and continuing that strong track record.”
From 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 4.1 seconds Behind the impressive performance of the Audi RS 3 Sportback is the world’s most powerful production five-cylinder engine – the 2.5 TFSI. It delivers 294 kW (400 hp) of output – 33 hp more than the predecessor engine – and is 26 kilograms (57.3 lb) lighter thanks to its aluminum crankcase, among other features. Its maximum torque of 480 Nm (354.0 lb-ft) is available at engine speeds as low as 1,700 rpm and remains constant up to 5,850 rpm. That’s how the RS 3 Sportback is able to sprint from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 4.1 seconds. The effect of this extraordinary tractive power is intensified by the five-cylinder’s unmistakable sound, which comes from having the ignition alternate between directly adjacent cylinders and widely spaced ones. On request, Audi will increase the electronically limited top speed from 250 km/h (155.3 mph) to 280 km/h (174.0 mph).
For better mixture preparation, the new 2.5 TFSI engine employs dual injection into the intake manifold and into the combustion chambers. On the exhaust side, the Audi valvelift system controls the duration of valve opening depending on the throttle and engine speed – for moderate fuel consumption at low and partial load as well as more spontaneous throttle response and a high level of tractive power at full load. In the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) the RS 3 Sportback uses 8.3 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (28.3 US mpg), which equates to 189 grams of CO2 per kilometer (304.2 g/mi).
quattro drive with variable distribution of power The S tronic seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and quattro permanent all-wheel drive transfers the power of the five cylinders to the road. And the electro-hydraulic multi-plate clutch distributes the drive torque variably between the axles. The sportier the driving, the faster and more often a large share of the torque reaches the rear axle. quattro management is integrated as a standard feature in the dynamic handling system Audi drive select, as are the steering, S tronic, the engine management, the adjustable exhaust flaps, and the optional RS sport suspension with adaptive damper control. The driver can individually vary the operation of these components between three modes – comfort, auto and dynamic. Handling is perfected using the Electronic Stabilization Control (ESC) with wheel-selective torque control and the sport mode specially tuned for the RS.
Wider track and sporty suspension setup Together with progressive steering, the four-link rear axle, and the tight suspension setup lowered by 25 millimeters (1.0 in) relative to the A3, the RS 3 Sportback combines fascinating dynamism with superior stability. Compared to that production model, the track at the front axle of the RS 3 Sportback is wider by 20 millimeters (0.8 in) – and the wheel arches are accordingly flared wider. As standard, Audi includes 19-inch cast wheels and 235/35 tires, and brake disks with a diameter of 310 millimeters (12.2 in). Alternatively, customers will be able to choose carbon-fiber ceramic disks in front. At the rear axle, brake disks with a diameter of 310 millimeters (12.2 in) are used.
Distinctive RS design On the exterior, the RS 3 Sportback shows off its power in the form of a striking Singleframe with a gloss black honeycomb grille, large air inlets and angular sill trims. The redesigned blade in the bumper gives the front end an even wider look. At its ends it forms narrow, upright funnels. LED headlights with their distinctive lighting signature are standard, and Audi offers matrix LED headlights as an option. In the rear a stylish RS roof edge spoiler, a diffuser insert and the RS exhaust system’s large oval tailpipes are sure to turn heads everywhere. A quattro logo at the bottom of the Singleframe is a finishing touch to the dynamic appearance, as are the RS 3 emblem on the honeycomb grille and on the tailgate.
Lap timer, boost pressure indicator and special RS screen The two circular instrument dials are black with red needles and white scales. The centrally positioned driver information system includes a boost pressure indicator, an oil thermometer and a lap timer. The fully digital Audi virtual cockpit displays the infotainment system data and is available as an option. A special RS screen shifts the tachometer to the center, displaying on either side the readings for torque, g‑forces and tire pressure. When the transmission is operating in manual mode, a scale with a color background prompts the driver to use the steering wheel paddle or selector lever to upshift when approaching maximum rpm.
Sporty interior and outstanding comfort The RS 3 Sportback is equipped with sport seats in black fine Nappa leather as standard. RS sport seats with more contoured profiles and integrated head restraints for the driver and front passenger are available as options. RS emblems are emblazoned on the seatbacks of both seating variants. The RS sport leather steering wheel is flat-bottomed and features buttons for operating the infotainment system. The main control element is the rotary/push-button control on the console of the center tunnel. A touchpad can be integrated in its surface as an option, enabling the driver to scroll, zoom and enter text. Also included is a free text search feature that automatically completes the user’s input after just a few letters have been entered. The voice control can process user questions and commands formulated in everyday language.
Online with Audi connect When it comes to infotainment, the RS 3 Sportback is extremely versatile. An LTE module brings the Audi connect services on board, including navigation with Google Earth and Google Street View, as well as information on fuel prices, weather, travel and traffic. The Audi MMI connect app lets users transfer their smartphone calendars into the MMI system. Drivers can also send destinations from Google Maps and special destinations to the navigation system, and also stream music from the internet. Apple Car Play and Android Auto can be used to immediately bring selected apps to the onboard screen, for telephone, navigation and music needs. In addition, the navigation system includes a Wi-Fi hotspot that enables passengers to connect their mobile devices to the internet.
Other highlights include the Audi phone box, the Bang & Olufsen Sound System with 705 watts of power, and many driver assistance systems. In slow-moving traffic up to 65 km/h (40.4 mph), for example, the traffic jam assist keeps the car at a safe distance from the vehicle in front and can briefly take over the steering. Also new in the Audi RS 3 Sportback are the emergency assist, which automatically stops the car if required, and cross traffic assist rear. The latter system looks out for crossing vehicles when the driver is pulling out of a parking space.
Market launch and prices Orders for the RS 3 Sportback and the RS 3 Sedan will be accepted in Europe from April 2017 under the “Audi Sport” label; the market launch will follow in August 2017. The base price for the Audi RS 3 Sportback is 54,600 euros, and the Audi RS 3 Sedan is listed at 55,900 euros.
“It was born on the track, built for the road,” explains new Audi quattro boss Stephan Winkelmann. What he’s talking about is the brand new 395bhp Audi RS3 saloon. Sorry, sedan. Because it’s built - as TG.com told you a while back - for the United States. And China.
In fact, Audi reckons it’ll sell more of these RS3 saloons in the USA and the Asia Pacific region than in Europe, though we’ll still be able to buy it here. Good.
The RS3 saloon packs the lovely 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder engine up front. It’s the lighter, tuned-up unit we’ve seen in the new TT RS, with a whopping 395bhp and 354lb ft of torque. It’s not just more powerful than the outgoing RS3 hot hatch, it’s the most powerful five-pot engine in production today. A five-door RS3 Sportback will follow with the same drivetrain, but further down the line.
Allied to a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox and permanent four-wheel-drive (naturally), the RS3 saloon is capable of accelerating from 0-62mph in just 4.1secs, and derestricted, will run onto 174mph. Our experience of the TT RS is that it accelerates even quicker than Audi claims. This should be sub-four-second saloon, then.
There’s lots of dynamic handling adjustment here too, along with new software for the ESC that brakes the inside wheel during fast cornering. We’re even promised “controlled drifting” in Sport mode, though the TT RS didn’t quite live up to similar claims when we drove it, with only half of available power able to go to the rear axle. But it was still a heck of a lot more engaging than the car that went before it, so we’d hope this is the most interesting RS3 to drive, too.
It’s 25mm lower than the basic A3, gets monster 370mm discs and eight-piston calipers up front, and 310mm discs at the back. 19ins are standard, though you can spec wider tyres at the front.
The track is wider than standard of course, with those flared arches present, and it sports a singleframe Audi grille with the all-important quattro badge, along with massive exhausts at the back. The Paris show car blipped the engine to give the audience a taste, and it sounded rather fruity. Good fruity.
Inside you get the usual Audi RS treatment – which is a good thing – including a 12.3in high res monitor, and the option of the virtual Audi cockpit as seen in the R8. There are many connections too, to things like Google Earth and what have you, though you’ll be too busy enjoying its wonderful five-cyinder soundtrack to care, we imagine.
Interestingly, it’ll be launched in the USA and China next summer as an ‘Audi Sport’ model. It’s the first model to launch under the new tag, which replaces the Quattro gmbh division, in name at least. Audi’s topmost performance cars - RS models and the R8 - as well as its official motorsport activities and customer racing support all fall under ‘Audi Sport’.
Reckon this RS3 saloon is a worthy car to kick it off?
When road, driver and conditions gel as one in the new Civic Type R, this is a hugely exciting car. At other times it can feel wooden, artificial and not as quick as the numbers suggest. Understanding why, and best exploiting the car in any given situation, may be a reason for buying one in itself, but overall it still feels like a car that just misses the mark.
From its deeply divisive styling to its intense personality, the Civic Type R is a complex beast. Looks are always subjective, but it remains to be seen whether buyers at this price point will be swayed by the Honda’s more awkward angles. The cabin is a combination of great seats, gearshift and driving position, but an ergonomic layout that’s an acquired taste. Perhaps more serious are occasional dynamic foibles that call into the question the Civic’s dynamic repertoire when driven hard, and an engine that’s not without its shortcomings. Tying the more aggressive engine mapping to an overly stiff damping setting in +R is another obvious blunder. To access the best Civic, on UK roads at least, you're best leaving that +R button well alone.
>Read our Ford Focus RS review
Honda suspects the majority of buyers will opt for the GT pack, which adds satellite navigation, adaptive cruise control and various safety systems over and above the large equipment roster in the standard car. It won’t affect the way the car drives but might make it more pleasant to live with day to day.
‘While the old car’s balance was biased towards understeer, this version is more neuatral from turn-in to apex and also considerably more playful and responsive to a sharply lifted throttle or a keenly judged brake input, making it more engaging and enjoyable along a road.
‘While some will mourn the loss of the high-revving engines, the more progressive should instead celebrate the most complete Civic Type R yet.' Dan Prosser, Road Test Editor (evo 211).
It's also worth pointing out, the Honda Civic Type-R placed 10th in our 2015 Car of the Year test. The Seat Leon Cupra Ultimate Sub 8 was the only hatch in front of it, coming in 8th.
Performance and 0-60 time > Turbo power helps make this the fastest Civic ever, by quite some margin. Read all about the Honda Civic Type-R performance here
Engine and gearbox > A slick manual gearbox and broad range of torque are standout features of the new Type R. Read all about the Honda Civic Type-R Engine and gearbox here
Ride and handling > Pressing the +R button stiffens damping up too much for UK roads. The chassis is composed enough without. Read all about the Honda Civic Type-R Ride and handling here
MPG and running costs > Respectable MPG and emissions figures are countered by expensive tyre replacement costs. Read all about the Honda Civic Type-R MPG and running costs here
Prices, specs and rivals > The VW Golf R and Vauxhall Astra VXR are tough competition. But the Honda remains unique. Read all about the Honda Civic Type-r prices, specs and rivals here
Interior and tech > Some will dislike the busy dash, but everyone can appreciate the sorted seating position. Read all about the Honda Civic Type-R Interior and tech here
Design > The Honda's brash styling will be a swaying factor for many buyers. Read all about the Honda Civic Type-R Design here
Concerned the Mini JCW isn’t hardcore enough for you? Let this new John Cooper Works Challenge ease your fretting.
It’s a 100-off limited edition, and it’s been designed and developed in the UK, and it’s only for us lot to buy.
Much like the Renault Clio RS16, it’s been put together by a small team of engineers rather than being a product of mainstream development, and it’s designed to deliver “maximum track ability and on-road driving thrills”.
As such, there’s some specialist stuff on its spec sheet. There’s adjustable Nitron suspension, bigger Mintex brakes, a Quaife limited-slip differential and lightweight alloy wheels by Team Dynamics. These are all names familiar from motorsport and high-end performance cars, as well as the Mini Challenge race car.
The suspension is particularly noteworthy, as it can be tweaked for bump, rebound, ride height and even camber. Given some find the standard JCW unremittingly tough on rough roads, such adjustability holds quite a lot of promise.
The front wheels continue to be driven by a 228bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine, and the Challenge’s 6.3-second 0-62mph time and 153mph top speed are unchanged over the standard JCW.
Disappointing if you want to shout about where your £32,000 has gone in the pub, then, especially given the Challenge is nearly £9,000 more than a standard JCW. But luckily the exterior does all of the shouting for you, with an unsubtle ‘JCW Pro Aerokit’ standard fit. Spoilers, splitters and diffusers are all much more aggressive than before, while the whole thing comes in a silver and carbon colour scheme that can’t be tweaked.
In fact, the whole specification is rigidly fixed. You can only have a six-speed manual gearbox, and you can’t add any option, though fancy things like parking sensors and auto lights are fitted, somewhat belying the hardcore nature of everything else.
The JCW Challenge launches at Goodwood next week, though is on sale now. Like it? Or is £32k simply bonkers for a Mini?
What we’re dealing with here is a timely reminder from Ford that the Fiesta ST is still the car to beat in the supermini hot hatch sector – no matter what kind of fancy paint job and limited-slip differential might be available from rivals. Though come to think of it, making the Fiesta ST200 exclusively available in a kind of gloss primer grey might just be a joke at the attention-seeking Peugeot 208 GTi’s expense.
The colour is officially called Storm Grey and contrasts nicely with the machine-finished 17-inch black alloys that the ST200 also comes with as standard. But the visual appeal here is most definitely secondary to performance upgrades, which include a revised chassis, shorter gearing and a nominal output of 197bhp.
Why does the phrase ‘nominal output’ make me suspicious?
Like the regular Fiesta ST, which puts the figure 179bhp down on its insurance form, the 197bhp Fiesta ST200 has an overboost function. Which means if you go the full Hulk smash on the accelerator pedal you’ll get an addition hit of 15bhp for up to 20 seconds, bringing the total to 212bhp. Ditto the torque, which rises from an already engorged 214lb ft (20% up on standard) to 236lb ft for the same maximum time period.
This brings the ST200’s actual potency up to the same level as the Fiesta ST Mountune tuning kit
That too sounds somewhat fishy…
Indeed. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that Ford and Mountune worked very closely together when developing the original Mountune kit – to such an extent in fact that, according to the ST200’s programme chief, the intellectual property rights remained with Ford. This allowed it to easily implement a similar strategy of intake mods and software jiggery-pokery in this instance.
Mountune remains Ford’s officially endorsed partner, however, so don’t think there’s been a falling out.
Come on then – what’s the Fiesta ST200 like to drive?
Mega. In order to really make the most of the engine’s extra muscle, Ford has changed the final drive ratio from 3.82 to 4.06 – which has the effect of shortening each of the gears in the six-speed manual transmission, significantly improving in-gear acceleration. Third is now a mighty, mighty thing, and overtaking has become even easier.
But as ever with the Fiesta ST, it’s the chassis that really does the damage. With Ford’s voodoo-like torque vectoring electronics managing traction, your ability to get hard back on the power almost as soon as you’ve finished braking for a corner makes short work of even the most technical switchbacks, while the chassis revisions have only enhanced the ST’s uncanny ability to help you get out of almost any unexpected situation.
It seems there was some concern that the back of the ST was too ‘aggressive’. So Ford has stiffened the rear torsion beam by 27%, fitted a thicker front anti-roll bar (21mm instead of 19mm), and recalibrated the steering to match.
These alterations then allowed the engineers to reduce the spring and damper rate, making the ST softer, and better able to deal with sudden bumps and camber changes. Yet you can still use the throttle to adjust your cornering line, and the ST still grips like a limpet in a bucket of superglue. Just when you think it’s going to understeer, it doesn’t – the resulting corner-exit velocity (admittedly on French tarmac, in the dry) scarcely seems believable from the driver’s seat.
It can’t all be good, surely?
Well, there is a bit of body roll – but once you’ve got beyond wondering how fast an ST could corner on smooth tarmac if the set-up was stiffer, you really begin to appreciate not only its ability to soak up lumpy surfaces but the amount of extra information about grip levels the lean angle is giving. For the steering, while certainly precise, doesn’t present you with a great deal of feedback on its own.
Fortunately, the ST200 is a car best flown by the seat of your pants, the ankles of which are presumably on fire. To this end, it is also slightly frustrating that the gear-change mechanism feels rather rubbery, and that the narrow, widely spaced pedals aren’t entirely conducive to lazy heal and toeing. This last might be a kind of commentary on you braking too early, however, since the spacing makes more sense when you go hard and late. The ST200 really does like to be flogged like a posthumous pony.
Anything else special about the Fiesta ST200?
In addition to the engine and gearing changes, standard kit includes unique ‘Charcoal’ Recaro seats and illuminated ST200 sill plates. 0-62mph in 6.7sec is 0.2sec faster than the standard ST – though still 0.3sec slower than the Mountune.
Then there’s the price…
How much is the Fiesta ST200?
£5k more than an entry-level Fiesta ST, and exactly the same price as an entry-level Focus ST. Which has 247bhp. The Mountune kit for the regular Fiesta ST costs £599 plus approximately an hour’s labour for fitting. Just FYI.
All that chassis stuff must be unique to the ST200, then?
Er, no. As it turns out, Ford couldn’t justify the expense of sending two different chassis setups down the production line, so it actually snuck the suspension changes onto the standard ST last year. Without telling anyone.
Apparently it didn’t want to ruin the ST200 surprise. The shorter final drive is unique to the ST200, though.
Tough one, this. On the one hand, the Fiesta ST200 is great fun to drive and has that air of exclusivity such special editions tend to bring. On the other, it costs £22,745, every ST gets the same chassis, and production isn’t limited, so it won’t be particularly exclusive after all.
In the end, the punters will decide – and on that score, Ford has nearly 3000 orders already…
Renaultsport is celebrating its 40th anniversary in style by cramming the powertrain from a Megane RS 275 Trophy-R into an RS Clio.
Yes, you read that right – the Megane’s 271bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine and six-speed manual gearbox have been jimmied under the Clio’s bonnet.
Sounds like it could be a complete handful!
Fortunately, the ever-talented Renaultsport has done more than just shoehorn in a delightfully inappropriate powerplant into the small hatchback. For starters, upgrades include race-bred chassis modifications, suspension tweaks and 19-inch wheels.
The R.S 16’s adjustable dampers are lifted straight from the Trophy-R, while floating 350mm-diameter front discs and an upgraded braking system derived from the Megane’s Nurburgring pack serve up suitable stopping power.
Renault’s raided countless other parts bin for this project, too. The engine, transmission and cooling system are all lifted from the Trophy-R, while the suspension is assembled from adapted parts lifted from the Megane, Kangoo and Espace.
Akrapovic stepped up once again to supply a suitable exhaust system, while the engineers worked to ensure the car’s ABS and stability systems functioned as expected.
‘The premise was to design an exclusively Renaultsport vehicle, fitted with the most powerful engine in the range," explained Laurent Dore, manager of the prototype department. ‘The aim was perfectly clear, but the first difficulty concerned the lead-times, which were extremely tight.
‘We created a team made up of experts from Renaultsport Cars and Renaultsport Racing. This little ‘commando’ unit was managed by Maurizio Suppa, an engineer specialising in prototype design.‘
Looks pretty aggressive, too...
That’s in part thanks to the Clio’s bodywork being some 60mm wider. Renault had to fit composite flares, in order to clear the taller 19-in wheel and tyre combo.
Other cosmetic and aerodynamic tweaks include the fitment of a rear diffuser from the Clio Cup, a rear spoiler to boost downforce and a redesigned front splitter to improve cooling.
Completing the high-performance look are bucket seats and six-point safety belt. Renault’s also ditched the air-con and rear bench, cutting weight in an effort to improve the car’s handling and performance. No official word on the amount of weight shed, though...
Is it still front-wheel drive?
Oh yes – so 266lb ft will be surging with vigour through those front tyres. Given how well the regular RS Clio 200 Turbo and more powerful Meganes deal with their torque, however, we can’t imagine the R.S. 16 will be too unwieldy at full throttle.
How fast is it?
Renault hasn’t published any performance figures for the new concept but, given that we know how quick the Trophy-R is, you can expect it to perform as follows:
Top speed: 158mph+
Will I be able to see it at any point?
The Clio R.S. 16 was revealed ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix, but it’ll be on display in the UK at the Goodwood Festival of Speed from 23-26 June.
More importantly, are they going to build it?
It’s likely that the car will remain a concept for now, given its niche appeal. That said, a lot of parts used in the concept are already available and Renault has history with low-volume, high-performance editions – like the Trophy-R and Clio V6.
‘We all recalled the impact made by Clio V6,’ said RS managing director Patrice Ratti. ‘We wanted to create a technical concept car with extraordinary performance levels but which was more realistically priced.
‘Therefore, we had to keep our feet on the ground and use simple, ingenious solutions to achieve a vehicle that could be type-approved.’
Courtesy of Car Magazine
Our favourite hot hatches are, usually, all about purity and mechanical simplicity. This lightweight, no nonsense attitude – perfected by the likes of Renaultsport – has often produced uncompromised, enjoyable hatchbacks.
The Focus RS though, follows a completely different principal. Ford has taken high-tech engineering solutions to endow the RS with the ability to harness large amounts of power and drive with the agility of a smaller, lighter car.
So the Focus RS might not fit our pre-existing mould for an unadulterated hot hatch. But, with a philosophy more akin to a Nissan GT-R, it’s still a recipe for a lot of fun.
The standard Recaro seats are very supportive, but look big and a bit ugly. The optional shell-backed items (also by Recaro) are firmer but look excellent and are even more supportive.
‘Not once does it get light or floaty over crests or in direction changes, which means you can throw input after input into the car without ever having to wait for it to settle and regain its composure. As it lands in compressions at speed, meanwhile, the suspension soaks up the impact in a single stroke without ever running out of travel.’ Dan Prosser, Road Test Editor
Courtesy of Evo Magazine
Here’s a question for you. What if you really fancy a moderately fast and practical Audi but you don’t want a hatchback or cabriolet, and can’t afford an S4?
There can’t be many wandering into dealerships then posing that very same question. Regardless, Audi has an answer for them – in the shape of the S3 Saloon.
It’s a niche product for UK shores and, aimed more at the USA, Russia and China, but filling niches is what Audi does best. The sporting saloon has just been overhauled, too, so it’s time to revisit the S3 and see how it stacks up.
So what’s new?
Put the bodystyle aside for the moment. Despite Audi telling us that it doesn’t like the word ‘facelift’, the entire A3 range has just been facelifted. On the outside this means a slightly revised front and rear end, different headlights, and that’s about it. It does look a more refined design, but you’d need to line up before-and-after A3s to really notice the differences.
So, it’s an update for update’s sake rather than a notable revamp. It’s still quicker from 0-62mph than the upcoming S4, too, but the gap’s closed to 0.1 seconds now – because the bigger car is significantly quicker than its predecessor.
Is the S3 Saloon pretty much the same as before then?
Not exactly. Its flexible four-pot 2.0 now makes a better noise and has ten more horses, offering a total of 306bhp, but that doesn’t make much difference on the road. We didn’t notice the extra go while testing in-gear power delivery, but there is one other crucial upgrade in the updated S3: a new seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic gearbox.
Its primary function is to improve everyday drivability. It permits a smoother getaway than was possible with the previous six-cog ’box and delivers improved CO2 emissions and fuel economy thanks to the extra ratio.
Does it feel any different to drive?
The new S3 does feel different when compared to its predecessor. In an effort to distance the S3 from the rest of the range – to make it feel more special and justify some of the price hike - the new dual-clutch gearbox is coupled with a revised Audi-specific wet-clutch Haldex system that differs from every other Quattro in the S3’s line-up. It’s a derivation of the TT’s set-up and works with the stability control system to provide torque vectoring on both axles rather than just the front as before.
As a result, when driving quickly in Dynamic mode, the S3 can send more torque to the rear than ever – meaning you’re able to kick the tail out if you’re feeling particularly aggressive. Do so on a track, though: as ever the S3 has mighty levels of adhesion and you’ll need to be going very quickly to get it unstuck and have that tail wagging.
Isn’t the S3 an everyday performance car?
Yes, so at the other end of the scale there’s a new Efficiency mode that’ll allow the S3 to exclusively employ the front wheels at any time, rather than doing so only at motorway speeds.
Again, there are efficiency benefits here. Just keep the S3 out of Dynamic mode if you’re cruising – even on Germany’s well-kept Autobahns we found the ride just about tolerable in the adaptive dampers’ ‘Comfort’ setting. Firming them up further is a bad idea.
Nothing has been done to improve the lifeless progressive steering. The steering wheel itself has been changed, though. It now has to control the new-for-A3 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit (also found in the TT), so there are extra buttons to switch between sat-nav view and alter the size of the speedo and rev-counter.
What does this facelift update mean for the RS3?
Audi’s development engineers wouldn’t be drawn into comment on whether the seven-speed 'box will make it all the way up to the RS, which is due for a nip-and-tuck of its own at some point soon.
They did let slip that it’s capable of dealing with more power and torque, however. We wonder whether it’ll be connected to that likeable old five-pot, or if gaining a gear will be countered by losing a cylinder in the name of economy and emissions. Hope not, because the 2.5 is probably the standout feature on Audi’s super-three.
It’s still a very likeable car, this S3 Saloon. There’s a certain Q-car appeal about a three-box car based on a hatchback, and under the skin we found genuine ability in many areas.
The new gearbox delivers a leap forward in terms of power delivery, the car’s handling has been improved and the already-smart cabin is further polished with the addition of the Virtual Cockpit.
It might be a bit smaller than most other fast saloons on sale, but it’s not much slower and it’s certainly not as common.
Road trip: a phrase loaded with potential for exciting adventures, spontaneous diversions and over-indulgence on service station cuisine.
My trek was short on imagination, because I was taking a path up the UK’s motorways from Berkshire to Scotland, but this was the farthest I’d gone in our Civic Type R in one go.
When we ordered our car, we specified GT trim, which includes convenience features, such as automatic lights and wipers, a sat-nav and even one of those old-fangled CD players.
And GT stands for grand touring, yes? Well, I wasn’t expecting limo-like refinement, but would this road-going hot rod be bearable over such a long trek?
It didn’t start well: the sat-nav recognised my destination’s postcode but then proclaimed "cannot calculate route" — a quirk that no amount of menu prodding could resolve.
Just as well I only needed directions at the very end of my journey. Before that, I had miles of motorway on which to assess the Civic.
Some colleagues find the Type R’s firm ride impossibly uncomfortable. Perhaps I’ve grown used to it, but I find it acceptable on motorways — unlike the level of road noise from those fat tyres.
The ride is less fun across broken roads, a fact that was hammered home when I turned off the M74 and onto the A702, an old Roman road.
After a few miles, there’s a section that I suspect hasn’t been resurfaced since Gnaeus Julius Agricola thundered along it in his chariot.
The long stretch of pockmarked highway was a reminder of how the Civic’s crashing race car rigidity can prove invasive, prompting a meandering path around imperfections.
After an overnight stop near the Forth Road Bridge, the destination was Knockhill circuit, where I received useful track-driving tuition from Honda’s own touring car champ, Gordon Shedden.
More on that in the future.
As I left Knockhill to drive home, I was faced with one of those decisions that define road trips: should I head east back to the motorway, or turn west on a B-road?
I chose the latter, and on a dry, smooth and largely traffic-free road under a clear blue sky and with perfect visibility, the Civic was as enjoyable as it has ever been.
I could enjoy the tremendous grip and the fizzing, exploitable mid-range capability of the turbocharged engine.
Hours later, near the end of a drive that got progressively more traffic-clogged and storm-hit the farther I drove, I stopped for fuel. I also topped up the screen wash, but in my jaded state I fumbled the fluid reservoir’s cap into the engine bay.
I can still see it but can’t work out how to reach it without getting the car on a service ramp.
Why Honda doesn’t tether the cap is beyond me, but when I find myself grumbling about such matters, it’s indicative of this car’s impressive capabilities, which are proving rather more rounded than I expected.
However, Young Tom Ryder came to Autocar recently for work experience and arrived bearing a gift.
Tom’s father Jason works at Honda UK’s HQ in Bracknell, and the present was a washer filler cap. I’d been looking at one on eBay for £6.50, so I’ll spend that money treating the Honda to a wash instead.
Mileage 11,995 Price £32,295 Price as tested £32,820 Economy 32.9mpg Faults None Expenses Oil £13.71, front discs and pads, front tyres, oil and filter £1583.05
Courtesy of Autocar
Volkswagen has started high-speed testing of its upcoming Golf GTI Clubsport S at the Nürburgring, ahead of the model’s reveal later this year.
The Clubsport S is a more powerful, lighter version of the already trackworthy Clubsport, which is said to use the engine of the Seat Leon and Cupra 290 ditches rear seats in favour of a half roll cage.
Autocar reported earlier this year that such a model was being considered for production, and the arrival of these new spy pictures confirm it has already progressed into latter stages of development.
The car is expected to get its own suspension and damper settings to match the extra power available, which could amount to more than 300bhp, making it about 16bhp more potent than the Seat.
This would also make it about 40bhp more powerful than the regular Clubsport, and thanks to a stripped-out rear and the removal of unnecessary luxuries, it should weigh a fair bit less than the Clubsport’s 1375kg, too.
It’s thought the Porsche 911 GT3 Clubsport has provided inspiration for Volkswagen’s hot project, suggesting it’ll have a track-focused demeanour that should make it a serious rival for the similarly focused Renaultsport Meane 275, which comes available with optional race-spec Öhlins dampers (NICE!).
Volkswagen has so far remained tight-lipped about the Clubsport S, but the car is expected to arrive later this year in limited production numbers. It'll be priced above the regular Clubsport and current hottest Golf, the , which sells from £31,125.