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    Ultimate Daily. We test VAGtech's RS3. With an explosive, tuned five-pot and everyday practicality, this Sepang blue RS3 is a true all-rounder… Words & Photography Davy Lewis. RS3 VAGtech’s potent daily driver.

    One thing I’ve found from working in the UK car scene is that you tend to bump into the same faces over the years. It’s quite a small world really, so it’s to be expected, but I still love it when I meet an old contact from years back.

    I first met VAGtech’s, Jon Watts, back in 2005, when I worked on Redline magazine. He’d built a turbocharged Golf R32, which he let me drive for a road-test feature. It made around 400bhp and coming from a 150bhp Golf GTI, it blew me away. Unsurprisingly Jon became known as the go-to man for R32s, but when the first generation of RS3 was launched, he got into Audi’s premium Sportback – in a big way.

    With his own demo car making big power, and being used to constantly test and develop performance parts, it was a regular at events and track days. This extremely well-prepared RS3 was eventually sold to a customer, leaving Jon with a quandary: what to replace it with?

    Well, that was an easy one – a brand new RS3 8V.

    The Sepang blue Audi is Jon’s daily, but also a test bed for performance parts. Over a coffee, I asked him his thoughts on the tuning scene today.

    “I think it’s come a long way. The thing is, cars are so good from the factory, that you don’t need to go too far – a few well chosen upgrades and you can create something that’s plenty fast enough for the roads,” he says.

    The RS3 is a prime example of this. The potent 2.5 TFSI unit not only sounds fantastic, with that characteristic offnote warble, but it also makes strong power. Matched with the superb s-tronic transmission and quattro drive, it’s one of the best, all-round, practical, performance cars you’ll find. No wonder they’ve sold so well since launch in 2015.

    Jon’s own car has been treated to the kind of upgrades that his customers ask for, so it represents a real-world example of what can be achieved. I’ve been fortunate to drive several RS3s now and I have to say, they’re great fun. Jon’s car is no exception.

    Let’s kick off with the looks. There seem to be a lot of Nardo grey, white and black RS3s on the road, which is fine, as they’re all great colours. But I have to say it’s refreshing to see something else, and Sepang blue is a cracking hue. When the sun catches it, this thing really pings.

    The subtly aggressive styling of the #Sportback means it doesn’t scream ‘look at me’ like say a Mercedes A45 AMG, but it packs enough firepower to show the majority of cars a clean pair of heels. I spent some time trying to figure out why this particular RS3 looks so pleasing to the eye and then figured it out – it’s the wheels. The genuine #BBS CH-Rs look absolutely, bang on the money, tucked up in the arches courtesy of Bilstein B16 coilovers. It sits just right – not too high, not too low and the offset is spot on, too.

    Performance wise, even in stock fettle, the 2.5 TFSI unit brings plenty of grunt to the party. But with so much potential held in reserve, they can easily be persuaded to give more. As a #Revo dealer, Jon is beta testing Revo’s latest Stage 2 software. It’s still at the development stage, so no official figures are available, but it’s likely to be around the 420bhp mark.

    The RS3 already had the required hardware fitted – namely a larger front mount intercooler and full turbo back exhaust system – these were supplied by Forge Motorsport and Milltek Sport, respectively. With the restrictive primary cats removed and replaced with a much freer flowing Milltek Sport downpipe with sports cat, the RS3’s potential can be unleashed. Getting at it is another matter.

    To access the cats, you must first drop the sub frame. I actually watched the #VAGtech technicians do this before photographing the car. Fortunately, being a new car, everything came off easily and it was a pretty straightforward procedure. Again, Jon wanted to trial it on his own car before a customer asked for it, so he knew exactly what would be involved. You can see a full fitting guide next issue.

    The hardware and software upgrades have given the RS3 a harder edge. It now pulls more strongly, right across the rev range and delivers an explosive punch when you really mash the throttle. But this isn’t at the expense of drivability or comfort. The #Revo Stage 2 development setup allows you to exploit the potential of that 5-cylinder, but it retains its manners. Around town it’s docile and just like a stock car. It’s only when you ask it for more that its character changes. Be in no doubt, this RS3 is very quick. Launch control is ridiculous and guaranteed to make passengers feel a bit funny. So full fat hooligan mode is just the flick of your ankle away. Yet, this car is so refined and well put together that you can pootle about in it all day with no fuss or dramas.

    The only issue, as far as Jon is concerned, is that his daily commute isn’t quite long enough – a sure sign that you’re driving something a bit special.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE / SPECIFICATION #Audi-RS3-8V #2016 / #Audi-RS3 / #Audi-A3-8V / #Audi-A3 / #Audi / #Audi-RS3-Typ-8V / #Audi-A3-Typ-8V / #Audi-RS3-Typ-8V / #Audi-RS3-VAGtech / #Audi-RS3-VAGtech-8V / #Bilstein / #Audi-RS3-Revo / #Audi-RS3-Revo-8V

    Engine 2.5 TFSI 5-cylinder, #Forge front mount intercooler, #Milltek non-res exhaust system from turbo back, #Revo-Stage-2 developement software
    Power Around 420bhp (currently running beta testing software)
    Transmission 7-speed s-tronic
    Brakes RS3 Stock
    Suspension #Bilstein-B16 coilovers
    Wheels 20in #BBS-CH-R wheels with 245/30 Yokohama tyres
    Interior Stock RS3
    Exterior Stock RS3 in Sepang blue
    Contacts and thanks #VAGtech

    Top: Performance is very brisk! Above: Sports seats. Left: Half-Alcantara wheel is very nice. Right: Milltek cerakote tips. Below: 5-pot is one of the best engines around.

    “It delivers an explosive punch...”
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    Phantom Menace RS7 QS Tuning’s 675hp monster. This all-black RS7 is packing MTM upgrades and a solid 675hp and 860Nm – we went for a blast around the Sussex countryside to find out more…

    I’ll let you into a little secret… I’m a sucker for black cars. Over the years I’ve had five of them and I’m pretty sure that my next Audi will also be of a dark hue. There’s something about black cars that just looks so right. They give off a faint whiff of menace, which is often amplified by Audi’s recent talent for designing aggressive looking front ends. But when it comes to all out evil looks, then I think I’ve found the perfect contender.

    QS Tuning’s RS7 #Sportback looks mean as hell. Finished in glorious Phantom black, it oozes street presence and latent aggression. But this is no factory special. Lots of small changes have been made to create this all-black monster – including, of course, some rather lively power gains.

    The car is #QST head honcho, Kim Collins’, current daily driver, and as such had to tick all the boxes. That meant be rapid and comfortable, but still capable of delivering excitement. Having sold his supercharged RS5 and a tuned RS3 8V, both of which delivered plenty of thrills, the RS7 had much to live up to.

    But let’s start with the looks first of all.

    The front of any RS7 is pretty angry looking – all wide vents and gaping RS grille with those lovely angular headlights. QS Tuning have taken this further by fitting black Audi rings and painting the grille surround in gloss black. The front number plate has been removed, too (if the local constabulary are reading, it fell off, and is in the boot).

    Continuing the black-on-black theme, the window surrounds have also been done in gloss, and the windows have been tinted. To the rear, the Audi badge has been removed, leaving only the RS logo. There’s a set of rather tasty looking carbon fibre mirror caps, too.

    The paintwork has been treated to a full Gtechniq ceramic paint treatment. The idea is that it provides a barrier between your paintwork and all of the nasties that are attracted to it – stuff that really harms it such as tar, road salt and brake dust. The initial deep-clean and then application process took QST’s Alex, four days in total, but it’s given the Phantom black RS7 a deep, glossy shine that really pings when sun catches it. Best of all, as long as the correct cleaning regime is followed (including using the recommended products), all it takes is a blast with the snow foam, followed by a power rinse to get rid of any dirt and grime that’s accumulated. Then it’s just a quick dry off with a quality microfiber cloth, and it’ll be good as new. You can even do the wheels too.
    And so to the wheels…

    As an official distributor for Vossen in the UK, QS Tuning had access to an enviable range of wheels. They plumped for the rather delicious, ten-spoke items, finished in gunmetal. The 9.5x21in alloys look like they were made to slot under the RS7’s muscular haunches. With the MTM #F-Cantronic lowering module fitted, the ride height is best described as bang on the money, with just a whisker twixt arch and tyre. However, there is no catching or rubbing to spoil the show.

    Inside it’s your typical RS7 cabin, decked out in honeycomb-stitched leather, carbon inlays and a tactile, flat-bottom wheel. The heated seats are especially welcome during the freezing cold photoshoot.

    So there we have it – some carefully chosen upgrades have transformed an already aggressive looking RS7 into an absolute beast of a car. But wait – what about the engine? I hear you cry. Good point, glad you reminded me – because this thing is bloody savage!

    With the MTM M-Cantronic system boosting power to 675hp and torque to 860Nm, this RS7 is rapid – and they’re not exactly slow from the factory. Squeeze the throttle – in any gear – and your greeted by instant power. A mere flick of your right ankle and before you know it you’re doing some pretty illegal speeds. With Dynamic Drive mode engaged, the RS7 hunkers down and sharpens its responses, like a leopard waiting to pounce. Once you unleash the full force of that 675hp, you need to be ready, because it puts on speed with rabid enthusiasm.

    As we make spirited progress along the Sussex countryside, the woofle of the V8 becomes a howl as the revs rise, accompanied by a crescendo of delicious pops and crackles from the exhaust. As you back off the throttle, the crackles really are grin inducing and sound even better when you pass by buildings. In a tunnel, I imagine you may well have an accident in your designer jeans.

    The exhaust is a Milltek cat back and it really does make the most of the 4.0 TFSI’s potential. Even though it’s only about two-degrees outside, we have the windows down and sunroof open to listen to that Milltek crackling away. But it’s never drony or intrusive – it merely wakes up when you want it to – perfect.

    I recently spent a week with an RS7 Performance and was deeply impressed with it. However, with the optional extras, that car cost a whopping £105,000. If you wanted something similar, for a lot less, you could pick up a used RS7 from around £50k, and with another £10k spent on upgrades, end up with something not only faster, but better looking, too. QS Tuning have done just that and in so doing created what is arguably one of the best daily drivers you can imagine. That and the fact it looks so damned cool, makes it my current favourite feature car.

    TECHNICAL DATA SPECIFICATION / RS7 675hp #QST / monster #Audi-RS7-Sportback / #Audi-RS7 / #Audi-A7 / #Audi / #Audi-RS7-Sportback-QST / #Audi-RS7-QST / #Audi-R7-Sportback-QST / #Audi-A7-Type-4G / #Audi-S7-Sportback / #Audi-RS7-Type-4G / #Audi-Type-4G / #Audi-RS7-Sportback-QST-Type-4G / #Vossen-VFS / #Vossen / #MTM / #QS-Tuning / #Audi-RS7-Sportback-QS-Tuning /

    Engine 4.0 #TFSI #V8 , #MTM-M-Cantronic module, #Milltek cat back exhaust system
    Power 675hp and 860Nm
    Transmission 7-speed tiptronic
    Brakes Stock RS7
    Suspension #F-Cantronic lowering module
    Wheels 9.5x21in #Vossen-VFS/1
    Interior Full RS honeycomb leather, carbon inlays
    Exterior Grille surround and window surrounds painted black, black front badge, rear badge removed, shortened rear number plate, front plat removed, carbon mirror caps, QST logos, full Gtechniq paint protection system
    Contacts QS-Tuning
    Left: 21in Vossens. Below: Nice cut down reg plate. Above: Paintwork prep took four days. Below: Carbon Mirrors.

    Above: Looks so mean without a plate. Below: Interior awash with leather and carbon. Top: QST’s Alex has his game face on...

    “In a tunnel, I imagine you may well have an accident in your designer jeans”
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