I know, I'm a few months late to the party but thought that I would add some observations.
My s3 was in for a service yesterday and so took the opportunity to have a test drive an RS3.
It was Sepang with Aluminium Styling Pack, Titanium Alloys, Lunar Silver Super Sports Seats and Standard Exhaust and Suspension. It is currently on sale at Bury St Edmunds Audi.
I know that the Aluminium Pack has had a lot of bad press within the forum, but to my eyes, it was actually quite nice - not sure that it's value for money though.
Also, there have been some doubters as to whether the RS3 looks dramatic or special enough - again, to my eyes it does and when parked next to my S3 made my car look very ordinary. I actually think that the car looks a lot better in real life than in photos.
The interior doesn't scream RS - but there is nothing wrong with the fundamentals anyway.
Initial perceptions of driving was quite underwhelming. It was very docile and felt quite lethargic as I drove through the surrounding 30mph areas – despite being in Dynamic mode.
At the first de-restricted sign, I put my foot down in third and I was left wondering where the extra 70 horsepower had gone. It genuinely did not feel any quicker than my S3. This was again my feeling when I joined a dual carriageway from a very short slip road.
Things started to change a couple of miles later when leaving the dual carriageway. I was genuinely surprised by the number of crackles and pops during deceleration (standard exhaust remember).
Pulling away from the junction at the end of the slip road, the missing 70 horsepower had made a magical appearance. I can only assume that performance is limited while the engine is cold (this car has also only done 1000 or so miles). Has anyone else noticed this?
So, now the car was staring to feel more as I expected, the engine started to become a bit addictive. It seemed to have a step in performance at 3.5k and again at 5.5k rpm along with a nice increase in noise. I can only imagine what the sports exhaust sounds like. I can't wait to take mine (when I order it) to the Yorkshire Dales to hear the pops and bangs reverberating off the dry stone walls!
I did a quick performance check from standstill to a bridge on a dual carriageway. The distance is a little over half a mile. I won't mention speeds but the RS3 was about 25mph quicker than my S3.
The lack of Auto change up at the rev limiter will take some practice - but on balance, I think that I prefer it.
Ride was perfectly acceptable on the standard set-up.
The wheels do not look special enough.
Apart from the price, I don't really see where the compromise is in this car. It seems to be perfectly liveable with every day. The ride is good and it could be made to look subtle.
The feeling that I have is very similar to how I felt after the test drive I had before buying my Alfa 147GTa in 2005 (a car that I still miss). The engine is such a dominant part of the experience of driving both cars.
It is almost as if you buy the engine and the rest of the car comes for free.
I will be getting one at some point next year.