Johannesburg - Among all the hype surrounding ultra-powerful four-cylinder motors of the type AMG builds nowadays, and all the tears shed about the gradual death of beloved V6s, V8s and anything with more than four pistons for that matter, the good old ‘five-pot’ has been laying quite low of late.

Thankfully the company that produced the world’s first five-cylinder petrol engine is keeping it alive and well in its TT RS, RS Q3 and RS3 performance models, and the latter has just undergone something of a renewal and format change.

The facelifted RS3 has just gone on sale in South Africa, and its available in sedan guise for the first time, priced at R925 500. The five-door RS3 Sportback is set to follow in November and that could be yours for slightly less, as in R895 500.

The RS3’s 2.5-litre turbopetrol engine has been given a decent little perk-up, gaining 24kW and 15Nm to make it the most powerful five-cylinder production engine ever, with 294kW and 480Nm on tap. Both the Sedan and Sportback, according to Audi, are capable of sprinting to 100km/h in 4.1 seconds and if you speak to the chaps at Audi nicely, you can have the electronically-limited top speed raised from 250km/h to 280km/h. Finding a road where you can safely do that is another matter.

Not only is it more potent than before, but the new 2.5 TFSI is also 26kg lighter than its predecessor, while internal friction has been reduced.

Because you’ll want to hear that off-beat five-cylinder rhythm in all its glory, Audi has also installed exhaust flaps that you can liberate through Audi’s Drive Select system.

That gadget, as we’ve come to expect by now, can also alter the characteristics of the steering as well as the seven-speed S-Tronic dual-clutch gearbox and Quattro all-wheel drive. Depending on the driving conditions, the uniquely-configured Quattro system can send between 50 and 100 percent of the power to the back wheels.

Buyers wanting their RS3 at its dynamic best can opt for Audi’s RS Sport Suspension Plus with adaptive damper control. Another possible tick on the long options list is a set of carbon ceramic brake discs.

Now that we’re talking options, there are plenty of ways to spice up the cabin, including Audi’s posh-looking Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster as well as the race-car-like RS sports seats with integrated headrests, MMI Navigation Plus, an MMI touch-pad, a 705 watt Bang & Olufsen sound system and an RS design package with various red cabin decor elements.

So what’s standard then? Owners with options list shyness get less flashy sports seats, which are albeit still upholstered in Fine Nappa Leather, with contrast stitching, as standard. Also on the standard features list is automatic climate control, cruise control, a flat-bottomed RS multi-function steering wheel with gear-shift paddles, Audi Drive Select and Parking System Plus with selective display.

On the outside, the RS3 models are machoed up by RS-specific bumpers with honeycomb trim, LED headlights and taillights with ‘dynamic’ indicators, 19-inch alloy wheels and a boot spoiler.

The pair are sold with a five-year/100 000km maintenance plan.

PRICES

RS3 Sedan 2.5 TFSI quattro S tronic 294kW/480NmR925 500
RS3 Sportback 2.5 TFSI quattro S tronic 294kW/480NmR895 500

ALTERNATIVES

BMW M2 Coupe auto272kW/500NmR968 910
Ford Mustang 5.0 GT Fastback auto306kW/530NmR873 900
Mercedes-AMG A45 4Matic280kW/475NmR773 914
Mercedes-AMG CLA45 4Matic280kW/475NmR880 314
Volvo S60 T6 AWD Polestar270kW/470NmR772 026

IOL Motoring