German spitfire Audi RS3 delivers bang for your buck, be it on busy roads or open highways
Sporty in the city PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

There is a question I have always wanted to ask owners of the 250 Lamborghinis, 360 Ferraris and about 1,000 Porsche 911s here.

Yes, you Mr Lim, Mr Kwek, Mr Ong, Mr Khoo, Mr Cheong and company, as well as the many others in the jewellery-rattling class whom Forbes has missed: How much do you actually enjoy driving your supercars on the road?

My guess is that on a scale of one (not very much) to 10 (every minute of it), most of you will say, five. If there is a pretty damsel on your left, maybe six.

You see, driving a supercar in an urban environment like ours is probably a bit like riding a thoroughbred at a county fair.

Everyone and his mother can see you have a beautiful and capable ride, but you cannot really put the steed through its paces.

That is why there will always be a place for cars such as the Audi RS. Along with rivals from BMW's M and Mercedes' AMG divisions, the RS range allows the person behind the wheel to indulge in some very sporty manoeuvres - without a track - with very few compromises.

The RS3 is the latest example. The car absolutely shines. Not since the brilliant RS4 sampled five years ago has there been such an Audi.

Size has much to do with it. The RS3 is just slightly bigger and heavier than a Volkswagen Golf GTI.

In Sportback form, it has all the fundamentals of a hot hatch. And it reminds you of that every time you slide it into and out of a sharp corner, and every time you weave through traffic like everyone else is standing still.

Simplicity contributes too. The car is a no-brainer to drive. Yank its no-nonsense auto-shift lever to D and the RS3 does the rest. Want a better response? Just pull the lever another notch south to S.

In that mode, the RS3 does everything you want and need it to do without you having once to resort to the steering-mounted shifters.

The car's chassis is stout and stiff, and its hair-trigger throttle is a pleaser. There is no Drive Select to ponder, no superfluous electronics to clutter the cockpit or your mind.

In S mode, the car's dual-clutch seven-speeder is suitably high strung and there is sufficient space between each shift for its rather rare five-pot engine to reach its goose pimple-raising notes as the revs pile up.

The car crosses into three-digit velocity with no effort at all. With launch control and all- wheel-drive, it hits 100kmh from standstill in 4.6 seconds - quicker than the very accomplished and more muscular RS4 and quicker than the Porsche 911 Carrera.

Unlike supercars, the RS3 is effortless across a very wide speed range, making it a cinch to drive in the heart of the city as well as on open highways.

Its drivetrain is also exceedingly smooth and refined.

Its steering response may not be as edgy as the BMW 1M Coupe's and its suspension may not have as wide a performance spectrum as the C63 AMG, but it is still an extremely capable cruiser-cum-bruiser.

Its braking action, for instance, is exemplary. Being small and relatively light helps.

The A3-based car is low on frills when compared with its rivals, or even its siblings. Hence, its pricing is not as out of this world, even if you choose to equip it with optional bucket seats.

So, it looks like Audi has managed to not only recapture the magic and purity of its earlier RS models with this chilli padi, but it has also endowed it with more bang for the buck than anything else I can think of.

Definitely more than what the Kweks and the Khoos have in their garages.

SPECS

AUDI RS3 SPORTBACK

Price: $259,888 with COE

Engine: 2,480cc 20-valve inline-5 turbocharged

Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic with paddle shift

Power: 340bhp at 5,400rpm

Torque: 450Nm at 1,600-5,300rpm

Top speed: 250kmh (electronically limited)

0-100kmh: 4.6 seconds

Fuel consumption: 9.1 litres/100km

Agent: Premium Automobiles