Audi RS3 Sportback vs Mercedes-AMG A45S: £60k 400bhp 4×4 hyper-hatch showdown

Audi RS3 Sportback vs Mercedes-AMG A45S: £60k 400bhp 4×4 hyper-hatch showdown


Welcome to the £120,000, 800bhp hot hatch twin test you’ve all been waiting for: the brand new Audi RS3 vs the mighty Mercedes-AMG A45S. It’s a sign of the times we’re living in – the last days of anything-goes internal combustion – that the latest VW Golf R or even a Porsche 911 Carrera are simply not powerful enough to come along and play. But which one out of these two £60k 400bhp 4×4 mega-hatches (both of which are more than happy to drift) makes the most sense? We sent Magazine’s Head of Car Testing Ollie Marriage to a small track in Wales to find out… Want to watch a bit of on the internet? Welcome to the most comprehensive collection of official clips you’ll find on YouTube. Whether you’re searching for a caravan challenge, Ken Block in the Hoonicorn, cars versus fighter jets, Stig power laps or the latest Chris Harris Drives, you can find all the iconic films here.Want to share your views with the team?

hang about what’s this oversteer in an audi rs3 there’s never been one that will do that before something going on here i think we better find out what it is this then is the all-new more slidy audi rs3 but on the surface it’s now 10 years old but not much seems to have changed it still uses the same five-cylinder turbocharged engine still the exact same engine capacity in fact it’s still four wheel drive obviously because it’s an audi and it still has uniquely as far as i can work out wider front tires than rear and that was done to combat understeer wider front tires for the heavier nose makes the chassis more balanced but it was never quite enough with the rs3 it was always been a bit blunt at the front like to tackle things head on nose first but not anymore because it’s got a new four-wheel drive system mechanical differential at the front but at the rear each wheel has an electronic clutch and that means say you’re going around a tight right-hand corner a roundabout for instance you put the power on and it sends as much power as it can to the outside rear wheel pushing it wide into oversteer rather than under steer and as we all know oversteer makes you a driving god getting into driving god mode is actually relatively straightforward let me just switch it on because you’ve got an rs button on the steering wheel and then you’ve got three modes rs individual where you can choose you know all your drive system suspension steering and all of that then you’ve got rs performance which is like your track driving mode and then rs torque rear an rs torque rear which you choose activate that sends more power to the back wheels and that’s the mode we want to play with anyway while we’re in here though let’s just have a look around the cabin look you’ve got a circular steering wheel okay it’s a bit big but it’s circular no silly flat bits on it but the rest of the cabin doesn’t quite feel in keeping with a car that is over 50 000 quid it doesn’t feel very jewel-like or special in here but you’ve got four seats you’ve got a boot at the back you can have it as a saloon if you want as well but these seats look a bit flat let’s see how they hold you in place when we’re out on track though yeah so i am sliding around in the seats a little bit but does that matter it does matter a bit to me because they should just lock you in place and hold you that bit harder but the whole idea of this car being an oversteer monster is really a little bit irrelevant you don’t really want oversteer in daily driving you’re only going to get yourself into a whole world of pain but nor do you want understeer what you want is nice chassis balance and balance isn’t something rs3s have really been able to deliver before but this is different better different not only does this ride 10 millimeters lower than an s3 it’s got 33 millimeter wider track widths and there’s quite a lot of other things that have gone on down there the front hubs for the suspension have been completely redesigned because they wanted the wheels to have more camber so that when they started going into corners and getting some edge on them they’d have more grip but i think the biggest change this car enjoys and it really is enjoys actually is the damping it’s got unique dampers that at the moment at least aren’t used anywhere else in the volkswagen range and they give it really really good ride quality those dampers are fixed rate but as standard on the upper spec models you get adaptive dampers then 960 quid to add to other models and i’d suggest adding that rather than the full rs dynamic pack which is five and a half thousand quid and adds the ceramic brakes however if you are doing track days those ceramic brakes are probably worth investigating because the standard brakes are a bit mushy the one thing to bear in mind with the whole four-wheel drive system is that although you can have a hundred percent of the power sent to either rear wheel that’s not 100 of all the power because the torque split front to rear is always 50 50 so you always have 50 of power going through the front wheels but i have to say it doesn’t half push the power back effectively and make this thing feel much much more neutral but let’s talk about the real highlight of the car because it is still even 10 years on from when audi first put a five-cylinder engine in an rs3 the star of the show i mean for starters listen to it five cylinders have always sounded good now i’m not sure that still sounds pretty good i’m not sure it sounds as good as it always has because they’ve had to back off the engine and the throttle from the older version and this has only gained 15 pounds foot it’s still exactly the same power at 395 horsepower and 369 pounds foot of torque is only a small gain and because this car is 40 kilos heavier than the old one it’s not a lot faster but this is still a fast car as i shall now demonstrate with the help of the rs3’s deadliest rival the mercedes amg a45s let’s start with a drag race i really don’t know what’s going to happen here because although he has more power i have more torque delivered lower down i think it’s going to be very very close oh i’ve got him the traction of this thing is outrageous off the line just holding him at literally half a cars length that we’re them and yeah there we go bailout lane that’s close when that is really close and i have a feeling if we went much faster or further the merc would come back at it it’s just got shorter sprintier gearing and at the top end it’s just got that extra hit of power a little bit at the top end landau isn’t long enough for a full quarter mile but on its winter tires the audi did naught to 60 in 3.7 seconds and 100 in 8.8 which is precisely no faster than its predecessor the a45 a tenth slower to both 60 and 100 but just as oversteer isn’t what makes these cars good all you learn from a drag race is numbers so let’s hop into the a45 so what have we got going on in the merg a45 well firstly quite an angry little engine so what merck did with this what’s quite cool is they actually gave it less torque they purposefully gave the engine a thinner mid-range so people would have to hold on for high revs and it does make it just a little bit more exciting to drive on track at least on road you find yourself waiting for it a bit about here there we go it just feels more positive on the brakes than the audi a little bit crisper at the front end not a great deal it’s just like it feels fractionally lighter a little bit more nimble but the pale for that is that it is a harsher car to drive the ride is really really firm and on the road i mean really firm like too firm and these seats although they’re holding me up in much better than the audis are quite they’re just hard but that engine oh it’s good listen to that it’s a four cylinder it’s only got it’s got one less and half a liter less capacity than the audi only a single turbo but my word merc put some development into it and in manual it doesn’t kick up so you can use it all properly and then on the brakes oh it just digs into the tarmac better than the audi i mean i think the main reason for that is that the audi was on winter tires and that didn’t help its cause it’s not i have to say it doesn’t manage its four-wheel drive system as well as the audi it constantly tries to shuffle the power around a bit i think this is a bit more nose-led than the audi is and i really didn’t expect that i expected this to be the really full-on one so maybe we need to try getting this into drift mode and seeing if it makes a difference right pull both paddles and then confirm with paddle up and i have drift mode let’s see if that makes any difference for the slidey stuff yes oh yeah that makes quite a lot of difference big bug through the fast one yep that’s works but that is more effective it’s definitely more neutral now oh gosh oh a lot more rear it feels fractionally artificial but it’s very effective it doesn’t feel i don’t think it’s quite as naturally set up as the audi but it’s pretty good and i know it shouldn’t make much difference in extreme hot hatches but this is a lovely interior there’s all this silver on the steering wheel and these air vents the materials and quality feel a real notch above the audi this is a pair of massively capable four-wheel drive hot hatches the mercury 45 was a step change better between generations one and two the audi rs3 has been more about the incremental gains but what i admire most about the audi is that it hasn’t tried to upstage murk in the power wars the car is certainly no worse because of it but equally i thought i would be saying that the mercedes wins it’s the harder sharper more exciting car to drive but i did live with one for six months and i found it quite harsh and noisy and as a daily driver that means the rs3 is the better car it’s smoother riding and that thumping torque makes it really good to live with if push came to shove i’m taking the audi you

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