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A trip down memory lane

ByDave Stopher

Aug 17, 2022 #Audi RS3

Motoring writer Ian Lamming enjoys some drives to remember in Audi’s stunning RS3…

Seminal moments are so often made around motoring. It’s why we ‘go for a lovely drive’, take our loved ones ‘out for the day’ in the car, go for a blast or a road trip.

For professionals there are countless experiences of driving stunning machinery, tackling glorious routes or sharing a car with celebrity drivers to make your memories special.

Driving is exhilarating, driving gives you independence; it’s why car ownership for many is so much more than mere transportation.

Here is such a precious moment. It’s a pre-special birthday meal with family at a stupendous restaurant. If you are in Cumbria then you must try The Dog and Gun, at Skelton. It’s just been awarded a Michelin star, and well deserved it is too.

If that wasn’t special enough, the drive home moves the evening off the charts. Grab a map and find this road. It’s the A592 and it runs from Pooley Bridge to Patterdale, along the shores of Ullswater, before continuing up Kirkstone Pass, dropping into Bowness and skirting the shores of Windermere.

Pick your time of day correctly and the road is empty, the scenery perfection and the light of the setting sun glorious – this is one of those times and the grin on my face could not be wider.

Contributing to that beam of contentment is the test car – an Audi RS3 – which is the perfect balance of practicality and performance.

It’s an A3 bodyshell in hatchback form so it is practical and spacious with decent rear legroom for a lanky teen and boot for his paraphernalia. Mum is happy in the front as the sports seats are incredibly supportive and the suspension surprisingly compliant.

We all love the look too, which is subtly sporty thanks to body flaring here and there, two huge exhaust pipes and a massive honeycomb grille. The flat grey is menacingly stealth fighter and the alloys are large. It’s a great looking car.

But for the driver – in this instance it happens to be me – the real treat is in the drive, particularly on empty roads.

The 2.5 litre five-cylinder turbocharged engine sounds deep and guttural, its exhaust a throaty bark on start-up. It is also smooth and torquey in nature with huge reserves of power thanks to 400PS and 500Nm of torque. No need to rev, just step on the throttle and the seven speed auto finds the correct ratio to propel RS forward with silky smooth alacrity.

Nothing silly, nothing near illegal, but the RS proves the perfect companion for the twists and turns of the A592 and for a bit of pass-storming. The steering is cutthroat razor-like in its sharpness and the superb suspension perfectly controls the ride. It is perfection, the engine soundtrack complemented by the brilliant hi-fi which comes courtesy of Bang and Olufsen.

The fact that the RS3 is a flying machine was never going to be in doubt, that’s what the moniker stands for and it proves to be an evening I will remember into my dotage.

But it doesn’t stop there. When practicality is required on the next long journey south to Stratford and then the Cotswolds, the RS3 shines in a way I could never have imagined. On the M6 the Audi cruises as well as anything. There is minimal engine, wind or road noise and comfort levels are excellent.

The boy has set up his DVD player in the rear and is happy watching Marvel movies, my partner content to relax in the passenger seat. Miles fly by without anyone becoming tired and when the ubiquitous 50mph roadworks restrictions kick in the trip computer shows an amazing 41mpg – from an engine that hurls 400PS at the world? Surely not. Overall, 37mpg is easily achieved from mixed motoring so the RS proves to be economical beyond my wildest hopes.

Park RS3 up anywhere you fancy and it draws a crowd, particularly from people in the know, those who recognise its pedigree. It’s a car that you feel proud to be seen in and park in your spot.

Generally a nice test car will imprint one or two happy memories on your psyche whilst in its company but the RS3 produces something special every time you slip behind the wheel.

Fact File
Audi RS3 Sportback TFSI
Engine: 2.5 litre five-cylinder turbo
Power: 400PS
0-62mph: 3.8secs
Top speed: 155mph
Combined MPG: 31.4
Transmission: seven-speed S tronic
CO2 g/km: 205
Price: £51,770.00 (£67,905.00 with options)