After a week of reading about yet more RS3 problems on here I think it’s time we looked at what it’s good at. No scrub that lets see what it is exceptional at. Owning an RS3 has just got better and better for me. The Michelin Pilot Super Sports made a huge improvement to the car and it was now time to put these track biased tyres to the test.
For those who just want the quick video version here it is. The choice of music sums up the RS3 for me, it is by far the best car I’ve owned and on a wet track day at Hullavington it was devastatingly effective.
Baby You’re the Best…
My experiences over the last two weeks have taken the RS3 from one of the great cars I’ve owned to the very best. I’m still grinning today and reliving the experience. To be clear I’m saying only the car is the best, I’m just an average enthusiast driver who’s had a few track lessons, I don’t do this often enough to be that good.
With a clear track and the Super Sports nicely warmed up this is the best lap I could extract from the RS3 and with my level of driving ability. The sound isn’t great on this clip, it was a windy day, but you should be able to hear all four tyres howling as they find the last ounces of grip. It’s rare to get such a clear track to be able to get a full on quick lap in.
Fastest Dry Lap of the Day
For those who prefer the wet laps without music here they are in full:
Powering through the hairpin
If you are new to trackdays or thinking of taking your RS3 on track I highly recommend Motorsport Events Motorsport Events Track Days & Corporate Driving Events the days are well run, non competitive, friendly and the instructors can really help improve your track driving.
And so to the description of the day and what the RS3 was like to drive on track. Well one thing is for sure Chris Harris (a motoring journalist I like and think is often spot on) was so wrong about the abilities and style of the RS3 on track. His comments are one of the reasons I’d delayed taking the RS3 to the track until now. I didn’t think it would be that well suited to the environment but boy was I wrong.
I gave a couple of passenger rides during the day and I wish I could have recorded their comments. They were blown away by the abilities of the RS3, especially in the wet. Just a few of the things they noticed were the absolute raw grip off the line, the full power exit from the big hairpin (while passing a Scooby like it was going backwards), the stability through standing water, the power and accuracy of braking.
When the rain was at it’s worst and standing water deepest the RS3 did an incredible job of remaining utterly composed. I’ve never felt the suspension and drivetrain on any car work so hard to maintain maximum grip and confidence. You can feel the power moving around the car as an individual wheel is tugged and pulled by standing water. The RS3 would easily pass through deep standing water at 90mph plus and remain arrow straight under braking. Full power acceleration was available out of corners, with just the slightest wheel spin at the top of 2nd and third gears.
When grip did run out in the wet the RS3 slides neutrally and predictably, you can either wait a moment until full grip is restored or lift a little to bring the nose back into line. The only understeer was caused by me overshooting my braking point and nearly ending up back in the pits at full speed. Even then the RS3 took it all in it’s stride and somehow we made it round the hairpin!
What makes the RS3 great on track:
Turn it off, you don’t need it. I ran a couple of laps with the ESP on in the dry and wet. I couldn’t believe how early the ESP kicked in, it was flashing like a disco light around nearly every corner and spoiled all the fun, every time the ESP kicked in it felt as if the steering wheel was connected to the wheels by rubber bands, a very strange spongy feeling as the system killed the power and applied some braking. Safe but utterly dull.
Even in the worst of the wet weather with the ESP off the RS3 never once became unstable or even close to spinning. Under full braking from 110mph, on maximum acceleration and using every last ounce of grip there was never any need for the ESP.
The Michelin Pilot Super Sports were outstanding in both wet and dry conditions. In the dry they were predictable, communicating the limit of grip perfectly with a light squeal as an audio cue. The MPSS don’t have the ultimate grip of an outright track day tyre like the Toyo R888 but they are close.
In the wet they were just sublime, again talkative about the grip levels, only momentarily wheel spinning through the deepest of standing water. These tyres make the RS3 so easy to recover from the now neutral slide, lift a little and the nose tucks in, maintain the line and full grip is soon restored. For a tyre that's supposed to be optimised for dry weather it's stunningly capable in the wet. If I'd had Toyo R888's on I'd have been driving very slowly in these conditions.
What amazed me most is that the tyres look as good as new after 100 track miles. Exactly as Michelin promises the tyres shoulders are in tact and the tyre wear is minimal, this is the advantage of a tyre developed with technology from Le Mans. The RS3 is a near 1600kg car and would have ruined the shoulder of any normal tyre on a day like this. The Conti 5P shoulders were rubbed off on the road so they would have been useless here.
Michelin Pilot Super Sports still looking as new after 100 track miles:
Tyre shoulders intact:
In the afternoon when it was wet the RS3 managed a stunning average of 9.9mpg over 47 miles. In the morning the speeds were a little higher and it managed only 7mpg. I feel I’ve done my bit for global warming once again!
Go Pro Camera's
I'll also give another free advert to the little miracle that is the Go Pro Hero 3 camera. During the wettest session I didn't attach the suction mount properly and the camera was thrown over the roof of the car and on to the track at 90mph... Ed - the organiser - red flagged the session and recovered the camera for me (embarrassing the first time I've caused a red flag moment!). The good news is the camera is still working and the damage is nothing more than a few tiny scuffs on the case.
RS3 or RS4?
I was lucky enough for Audi to let to me drive the new RS4 on track at Oulton Park and that was a great point of reference for yesterday. I know I'm biased and the RS4 is a great car but I much prefer the adjustability and balance of the RS3 on track. The RS4 was more planted and more brutal in it's ultimate power delivery but the RS3 is lighter on it's feet and has that great surge of turbo power delivery. Both awesome cars but I'll stick with the RS3.
A couple of more advanced car handling courses and some further 1-1 track tuition. It's going to be a fun year with the RS3, I will keep you updated with progress.