How does the new RS3 compare with my old B7 RS4?
Just initial impressions cos I've only had the 3 for 2 days and 300 miles, and it's still being run in so I haven't given it the full beans yet
RS4 a bit more solid, in the same way as a German taxi cab is solid. RS3 just as well screwed together and feels more plush and upmarket but not quite as solid in terms of materials. RS4 interior feels like it'll survive more abuse, kids, dogs, miles etc. What I've seen of the B8 RS4 seems to be the best of both worlds, plush and modern but built like a tank, not a shinier Golf. A draw.
Engine and Performance
You really can't beat a naturally aspirated V8. Ok unless it's a 10. The big V8 would never fit in the A3's engine bay and its weight would tip the car on its nose, so it's not a fair comparison, but the linearity, lack of lag, and sheer sophistication of the big motor is awesome. If I could put the 5-pot under the bonnet of my old RS4 I wouldn't do it, even if handling and economy improved. But having said that, if I could squeeze the V8 under the bonnet of the RS3 (and somehow not wreck the weight distribution and handling) I probably not do that either. The 5 just works right in
the RS3, it's more thuggish slightly cruder engine suits the character of the car. A top notch hot hatch should have some aggression and a rapid exec car should have more sophistication. Both engines are in the right place. Rumours that the next RS4 will have a blown V6 will spoil the car I think and leave that market wide open to Mercedes. Shame. RS4 needs a slightly de-tuned RS6 V8.
Performace-wise there's not much in it. Instant response vs. a bit more peak thrust. A draw.
Grip and handling
RS3 seems to have a lot more grip. That corner in my video is 55mph (as a left-hander) in the RS4, 60 in the Gti mk6 and over 60 in the RS3. Not got anywhere near the limits yet but 65 seems likely - I'll report back!
On roads with big bumps - undulations really - the roads round me must have got land heave or subsidence or something cos they all try to set you airborne. At low to medium speed I'd say the RS3 copes better and is better controlled and more comfortable (remember I'm talking big swells in the road, not cats eyes!). At the limit, in either comfort or dynamic, the RS3 gets a bit hard and tries to take off. It doesn't bottom out though and the steering stays resolutely in control. The RS4 soaks up the bumps a bit better but will float and feel a bit imprecise and can bottom out. It's got a big lump at the front and no dampers can keep it under control at speed. On this type of road, both will manage about the same speed, the RS3 threatening to skip off into a field if it runs out of suspension travel, and the RS4 making you feel like it's going to steer randomly or weave around a bit. Or ground out and leave an exhaust behind! I'd take the RS3 in this comparison because at least I feel like I have some say in which field it's going to launch towards, wheras the 4 starts to feel like a barge.
On more normal roads the 3 has the edge almost everywhere. It's a LOT more nimble, has more controllable lift-off tuck-in and doesn't dive or squirm as much under hard braking. I tackled a medium size roundabout followed by a very tight left-right exit this morning. It was incredible! I tried to provoke understeer and it wouldn't (I'm on standard width tyres), tucked in nicely on lift-off, swung accurately left and right with no hesitation, float or bounce. The yellow shitroen hot hatch on my ar5e on the way in to the roundabout lost 100 yards by the end of it! Incredible thing. I'm in awe. The RS4 would have understeered wide and wouldn't have changed direction so sharply or precisely. Clear advantage RS3.
RS4 is lower, wider, has more pronounced arches and just makes people get out of the way. I did 200 miles today in the 3, driving through lots of small towns and villages. Had the Dragon in the car so was confined to comfort exhaust. Not one person looked twice. Suits me, but there is a benefit to having people get out of your way on the motorway and the 4 was good at that, not in-your-face aggressive or look-at-me-I've-got-money flash (X6s and Porsches tend to make people get in their way rather than get out of it). Advantage RS4
Tricky one this. Both sound amazing in very different ways. The V8 sounds much better at low revs - a big deep burble that turns heads if you are full throttle at 2000 rpm, then ramps up and up and howls to the 8000+ red line. The 3 sounds like nothing special until you're on full boost at 3000 rpm plus, then all hell breaks loose and it sounds amazing. Close but I'd give the RS3 the edge. That roar on full boost is so addictive and even more fun.
Super Sports seats are very good in the 3 but I'd swap them for the 4's buckets any day, those things were just so comfortable and supportive. I feel like I'm sitting on the SSSs rather than in them, especially with the thigh support raised as I like them. Advantage RS4 but could be a draw when the 3's buckets become available.
Easy - advantage RS3. I often couldn't find 3rd when changing up quickly in the RS4, especially in the middle of a major overtaking manouver! The S-tronic is sublime, clever in its automatic modes and responsive and fun in M. It's definitely faster and smoother to shift cogs, ...and I'm a long-term hater of automatic anythings!
Victory RS3 then. I do miss the RS4 but the more I hear the 5-pot growl and spit and pop, the quicker I'll get over it
My main reason for changing though, was the age of the thing. I'm not the sort to pamper a classic car; I need a solid warranty and new-Audi reliability. Definitely the right move for me.