My turn to drive today after seeing / hearing them at Le Mans and Goodwood.
Brief summary of the spec - a launch / demo spec like all 165-ish in the country right now
Default standard mirror, window and grille
Electric folding mirrors
Alu roof rails
Alu dash trim
Titanium alloys, 255 front tyres
Super Sport Seats - lunar silver
Dynamic Package - mag dampers and sports exhaust
Comfort Package - incl B&O
Tech Package - MMI Connect
It certainly builds on the excellent S3 - I'd say its much closer in character to the S3 than the RS4 is to the S4 for example. And that is no bad thing imo - it definitely has the Jekyll & Hyde schizophrenic quality that all S & RS models should have. Its smooth and relaxing to drive when you want to pootle in town / cruise / sit on Motorway - something that cannot always be said of the RS4. But on the flip side, the sports exhaust is demented, and with the turbocharged rush if anything it feels faster than the outgoing RS4. With 479 miles on the clock it was barely run in, but it certainly feels a step up from the S3
Just like the S3, there's a bit of lag built in - possibly to make it smoother and easier to drive / modulate the throttle. But after that half second when the turbo picks up it just feels relentless. Acceleration from lower rpm in higher gears was very decent too. 343 lb ft is more than any iteration of the now-defunct naturally aspirated 4.2 litre V8. And the 8V MQB platform is a whole load lighter than any 4.2 engined Audi
You have the traditional ADS (Audi Drive Select) set up of comfort, dynamic, auto or individual. And you have manual, drive and toggle back for sport on the gear shift selector as S tronics have had the last couple of years now. It has creep built in - I thought some S tronics now remained stationary unless you apply throttle? It remains in second at junctions and roundabouts unless you come to a complete stop. However I was pleasantly surprised how early it lets you change down manually - including into first. The exhaust is comical, crackling naughtily on downshifts, it had me giggling continuously.
Before I set off I put the ADS in individual and put everything in Dynamic bar the dampers in comfort. My test route was the B526 - a fast sweeping B road between the villages, similar to bits of the B660. At no point did I think the dampers were too soft. Or that I wanted harder suspension. Tried the dampers in Dynamic briefly, which made the car far too busy. The 255/30 over 235/35 front tyres won't help in that dept either. Would be interesting to drive a fixed-damper car (ie. without the mag dampers). Whilst its a very brilliant system engineering wise, it does make you wonder whether the mag suspension is pointless on UK roads imo.
Good fun overall though on the road just as I suspected it would be - the RS3 is very much a wolf disguised in five-seat five-door clothing like other great S & RS models