I love electric cars, from tech-packed super saloons like the Mercedes EQS, to powerful and stylish sports cars like the Audi e-tron GT. I even love small EVs such as the VW ID.3 and Fiat 500. Sure, they're flawed, often too expensive and the range isn't quite there yet, but they're all exciting and offer a quiet, tailpipe emission-free alternative to internal combustion engines.
But I recently drove the Audi RS 3, the brand's latest hyper hatch, and realised what all of the latest EVs are missing.… fun.
With its five-cylinder, high-performance engine, the Audi RS 3 is one-of-a-kind in the segment. The 2.5 TFSI has won the “International Engine of the Year” award nine times in a row, and after driving around with it for a week I can see why.
In the latest generation RS 3, the engine is now more powerful than ever before developing 400PS and 500Nm of torque. That allows a 0-62mph sprint of just 3.8 seconds. Now, many electric vehicles are capable of similar figures, but it's the way the RS 3 accelerates that makes it so thrilling, with its violent gear changes and highly intoxicating roar.
Audi has worked specifically on the sound, so the exhaust system now features a fully variable flap control system that supports intermediate positions. It can be adjusted via the driving dynamics system, so, in the Dynamic and RS Performance modes, for example, the flaps open much earlier, making the sounds even more pronounced.
It's not just the sound and acceleration that impresses, because, as mentioned before, electric vehicles are capable of similar, if not faster, levels of acceleration. Where the RS 3 really sets itself apart is in the handling department.
During more dynamic driving, the new torque splitter, which is equipped as standard, increases the drive torque to the respective outer rear wheel with the higher wheel load, which significantly reduces the tendency to understeer.
This new technology also makes controlled drifts possible, with Audi developing 'RS Torque Rear mode' specifically for drifting, and an 'RS Performance mode', created specifically for the racetrack.
Unfortunately, as I was mainly driving on Norfolk B-roads, I wasn't able to test this function, instead opting for either comfort or dynamic modes (and efficiency when the fuel warning light came on as I struggled to find an open petrol station).
This, combined with the lighter weight, newly developed shock absorbers, larger wheel camber, and RS‑specific progressive steering, all come together to make a more dynamic vehicle than any electric vehicle I've ever driven, with precise steering and handling.
I have no doubt that one day EVs will be able to catch up, but for now, if you're looking for a car that will put a smile on your face – the Audi RS 3 should be your first choice.
Audi is taking orders for the all-new RS 3 Sportback now, with prices starting at £50,900 OTR.
This article is part of The T3 Edit (opens in new tab), a collaboration between T3 and Wallpaper* which explores the very best blends of design, craft, and technology. Wallpaper* magazine is the world’s leading authority on contemporary design and The T3 Edit is your essential guide to what’s new and what’s next.