What none of these changes have done is tweak the fundamentals of the RS3. It is still a phenomenally fast hatchback that has more than enough power for any road, but one that still feels a bit blunt in places.
Look under the bonnet and you’ll get a clue as to why – the engine is mounted ahead of the front wheels. As a result, it always feels a bit nose-heavy, despite the new-for-this-generation RS Torque Splitter. This can split the torque to the rear wheels, from a maximum of 50% of the total system, pushing it to the outer wheel and allowing the car to drift.
It has certainly sharpened things up from past RS3s because you can use the throttle and power to bring the nose around, so it’s now more playful than Audi RSs of old, but not to the point of BMW M adjustability. You don’t get that mid-point pivot that you find in BMWs.
Drift mode is hilarious, if you’ve got the space to play. It’s largely idiot-proof so even the most ham-fisted will be rescued by the front wheels dragging you out of trouble. It was most impressive in a high-speed slide because there’s such a vast safety net that it gives a huge amount of confidence. That, and the 100m of run-off probably helped.
You can understand Audi’s business case for not bringing this Performance Edition here. It’s impressive, but not sufficiently different to warrant the effort, and it’s also more money on what is already an expensive car. I admire companies for tweaking, almost just for the sake of it, but it is just that and not a fundamental rewrite of the formula.
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