Tonight I threw my RS badges in the hedge and fitted these instead*:
Because if any car I’ve owned deserved the title umm…Flipping Quick the RS3 is now it. I still can’t quite get my mind around how 2 remaps from the same company can be so markedly different. It’s been either wet or slightly damp here since the installation and yet the RS3 has remained quite comfortably a sub 4 second 0-60 car. It will even beat the Audi claimed 0-60 of 4.6 seconds without using launch, but more about that later. I can’t give you the full dry weather figures yet but I hope the subjective write up gives you an idea of just how different this version of the map is.
The v2 Map
Let’s start at the beginning with the installation process. With the ECU now unlocked the v2 map was installed via the OBD port, the whole process probably took about 20 minutes. So the first thing to say is a big thank you to Gwent VW and APR for getting the new map installed on both RS3s so quickly. The version 2 map still wasn’t ‘on the portal’ on Tuesday so if you are having an APR map make sure you get the latest file. It was therefore slightly odd to watch the ghostly hand of Keith from APR remotely controlling the laptop attached to my car. The map was installed without any further delay and I was soon away for a test run.
If you have any concerns about being able to switch the car back to standard this should allay them. Your friendly remapper will be able to switch the map back to standard without too much fuss in less than 20 minutes. All they need is the laptop so that could be done almost anywhere.
D for Different
Driving the car in D either at 30 mph or 70mph is now a quite different experience. Where before when standard or with the v1.2 map the throttle response was quite lazy and required a bit of a push now the response is instant. Instant to the point you need to take a bit more care in the 30 zones, the mildest tickle of the throttle adds 5mph. What is remarkable is that even with mild speed increases you get a lovely reassuring push in the back. The best way I can describe the to you is D is now like S mode in the standard car.
If you’re in traffic on the motorway at say 50 mph and spot a gap, just in D, you can exploit that instantly. The v2 map adds a tautness that was missing before. Where I’d have felt the need to reach for gear lever for S mode there is now no need, the power delivery is instant.
Keep your foot planted to firewall and what happens next will, if you are anything like me, result in an ear to ear grin. The torque push from the v1.2 map is joined by an equally ferocious rise in the revs. There is a waspish, angry rasp to the (yes standard) exhaust as 7100 rpm limit approaches. At this point the standard RS3 would give a slight sluuuurrr in the revs follwed by a ‘whummppp’ greeting every gear change. The v1.2 map reduced the slur but kept the whuummp as the torque of the next gear took over. With the v2 map this is replaced by an absolute whip crack to the gear change, no delay whatsoever and quite a solid feel of driveline shunt to the shift. The following whip crack shifts arrive much sooner too… (I will of course get the Go Pro camera to capture this when the weather picks up again, but for best sound the open rear door needs to be fitted.)
The best way to describe the difference is that with the v1.2 map the RS3 felt as if it had a bigger torque laden engine using brawn to push it along. Now, well this might sound strange, but it’s like they turned the turbo back on. You get a great big low end shove and the high end fizz of revs too. Oh and that waspish rasp at 6-7k rpm made me lust for the turbo back exhaust (Even if I’m a bit long in the tooth for a cherry bomb and live in the ‘burbs).
Sting like a bee
S mode, with the Sport button depressed for more aural drama, moves the game on once more. A full power launch sees the RS3 squat sharply backwards as before but as the revs pass 4K the increase in front grip and pull is as marked as the initial push sensation. Each gear change is greeted with a more noticeable mechanical shunt to simulate a gear change, ok it’s electronic but it feels right. You get the feeling of gear change but the surge of power is of course relentless.
For me the best addition to S mode is the more highly strung feel. The car is in the power band more often. This means you can pick your apex and slice though with ease. There is a much better balance in corners as the power is ready on demand when you want to apply the throttle at the apex to pull you through.
A real benefit of all that extra energy in the rev range is on the downshift. With manual downshifts there is more engine braking allowing you to get more of the weight forward and increasing the contact patch of the tyres. I’m a student of Robb Gravett so I like this style of getting the most braking and cornering performance. The quicker rpm build means you have more options on exit corner exit too, where the v1.2 map overwhelmed the tyres too quickly with torque the v2 map digs in with grip and then rockets you out. The most noticeable difference is how after 4k rpm the rev counter needle moves so much more quickly toward the red line, but without the big wheel spin blip of the v1.2 map.
You’ll need to be on your game, that much I can be sure of. The steering wheel will now wriggle and fight you for control on launch. The RS3 is still fully controllable but just a little less benign – in other words make sure you are holding a little tighter if you do launch it. The wheels are a little more keep to find road surface imperfections or any camber, and grooves but again fine adjustments of the wheel bring things back in to line.
Part of this is down to my front Michelin Pilot Super Sports which are rapidly approaching end of life. I can’t imagine how that happened so quickly! The good news from this is that the Super Sports have worn perfectly across the tyre width exactly as Michelin said they would. The tyre corners or ‘shoulders’ are still intact and the wear rate across the middle is even. My tyres have lived though 3 track outings and a handling day plus another near 7000 miles so this is a good result. The rear tyres still have 5mm tread depth which demonstrates how front driven the RS3 is (but even STIs and Evos wear rear tyres at about the same 2:1 Front: Rear rate)
The statistics as they stand (damp/wet conditions):
Launch 0-60 – 3.9 to 4.1s
Non-launch 0-60 – 4.3-4.5s
Real world 0-60 – 5.0s (no launch, in D, feed in the power from 50% throttle) you can make the traffic very small without reverting to any antics!
The good news is devastating wet weather progress is retained. The map doesn’t turn the RS3 into the tail twitching nightmare the Evo IX could be (on track day rubber) when the roads are more like rivers. The S tronic box still does it’s clever short shifting trick when the roads are sodden. Modulate the throttle to the conditions and the grip is always available just as before.
There is one thing not to do! If you are making progress and forget to switch off the ESP you will get quite a surprise. I know I did. As I pulled out onto a wet roundabout in S mode I was thrown forward in my seat at about 30mph, literally all the power was cut as the ESP light blinked at me from the dashboard. I've said it before but you really do have to be comfortable wi the ESP off to make the most of the remaps, the Audi ESP is way to much of a nanny.
Wet Weather Braking Delay:
I’m not a great believer in the idea that there is a wet weather braking delay on the RS3, having driven flat out on track in the pouring rain I didn’t experience it once. But you know I think I might have worked out what people are experiencing. As the RS3 downshifts the rev matching blips the throttle, in turn this adds a little more thrust through the car. With the extra revs and power of the remap I can feel this pushing against the braking force I’m applying. Once or twice I did need to press the brakes a little harder. I wouldn’t call it a braking delay but I can see how it could be felt that way.
Everyday driving remains just as easy, the RS3 is no more difficult to live with. There is no overheating, jerky progress or misfire in the map and lets remember it wasn't so long ago that mapped cars could be like that. Other than being altogether more sensitive and alert the car retains the same OEM character for the daily commuting grind. And ths time I do mean OEM positively, the car has OEM drivability with a whole lot in reserve when called for.
The increased MPG is also worth another mention. When I fitted the Super Sports the average MPG dropped from 28 to 26.5 mpg. In almost 1000 miles with the remaps the average MPG is touching 30 and that is with all the power runs and launches included. 34mpg plus on a cruise controlled motorway run is easily achievable. If you drive moderately I think some impressive MPG numbers might be possible.
90 right, uphill, flat, over crest
I’ve saved this bit for those of you still reading. I have a little local test route I use that includes an open 90 right degree junction followed by a big hill and crest. Think mini Cadwell Park ‘Mountain’ if you will.
In really powerful cars, just like at Cadwell, you can get a moment or 2 or air, but for most cars the steep uphill gradient kills the power. The R26.R for example just gripped and gave you a bit a stomach churn but certainly no air. The little Westfields at near 350bhp/ton would get some proper lift! The RS3 loves this corner, on full power entry all 4 wheels give a little squeal of excitement as they bite on the hill. The v2 map gives an extra kick to the acceleration, and yes the front wheels go all light as they hit the top of the crest. The haldex gets all confused and pumps power to the rear wheels, luckily not enough power for an ET moment but enough to give momentary flight to the near 1600kg grippy quattro Salamander. Admittedly it’s like you hear the whole car give a sigh of relief when all four wheels are on terra firma again but as far as fun goes this is hard to match.
Conclusion – Redemption:
The big question is would I go back to standard now? No I wouldn’t, the change is as dramatic as I hoped it would be. That extra surge of turbo power and whistle lights up my day. Harry Metcalfe of evo recently called the TTRS Plus a ‘Junior Gallardo’, high praise indeed. I was hoping the APR map would turn the RS3 from super hatch into ‘junior GTR’ (the original 480bhp 276bhp/ton not todays 550bhp beast!), a sub 3.8s 0-60 and 8.5s 0-100 was what I was looking for, we didn’t quite make that with the v1.2 map but you know I’m quietly confident we could see those figures now.
I don’t yet have a set of dyno figures or the dry weather performance stats to back up the subjective feel but the whole car feels, well, more alive and that is good enough for me. In fact I will go as far as to say this “the RS3 is now fast enough”. I don’t need or want any more than this on road, the RS3 will now do more than I ask, often I find I’m lifting rather than pressing for more.
My rating now? 9/10, awaiting only the dry weather and decent set of dyno charts (400/400 would be good enough for me) for the final mark.
Watch this space I will keep you updated.
*Don’t worry I haven’t actually thrown the RS3 badges away they are on e-bay of course, so that someone with a replica can buy them!