It’s about time we had a new Nurburgring lap record for the fastest compact car. The Renault Megane RS Trophy-R set the previous record over two years ago, which, in terms of Nurburgring bragging rights, is quite a long time. Remember when the Megane and Civic Type R were seemingly leapfrogging each other every week?
The latest Audi RS3 has just blitzed the 12.9-mile (20.8km) Nordschleife track in 7 minutes 40.75 seconds, which is over 4.5 seconds quicker than the Megane’s official 7:45.39 time. It’s also two nearly two seconds quicker than the Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT, and not a million miles slower than the Mercedes-AMG GT 63’s 7:27.8 time.
As is the way with Nurburgring records, though, the Renault can still stake a claim to be the fastest front-wheel-drive car to lap the ‘Ring. Given that the Audi is much more powerful and has four-wheel drive, it’s perhaps surprising the difference between them isn’t larger.
The only modification was a set of Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R semi-slick tyres, which are optional in some countries but not available in the UK. Boo. We’ll blame the amount of rain we get for that decision.
The new Audi RS3 is the first Audi to get a torque splitter, which controls the amount of torque sent to each rear wheel. Through fast corners it sends the most power to the outer wheel, giving a better turn-in and increased precision. It’s this torque splitter that was the difference for Frank Stippler, the driver of the record-breaking Audi.
“In general, the new RS3 is much more agile when driving from the middle of the curve to its end and when accelerating out of the curve. For me, the torque splitter is a quantum leap in terms of agile driving.”
An RS Performance driving mode also helps to give a neutral handling experience, reducing oversteer and understeer. We’re told there are two configurations for this driving mode: one for uneven racetracks like the Nurburgring, and another for smoother circuits like Hockenheimring.
The RS3 hits 0-62mph in just 3.8 seconds, making it the quickest-accelerating hot hatch available right now. Top speed stands at 180mph if you tick the right option box. UK sales start later this month, with the five-door RS3 Sportback starting at £50,900 and the four-door saloon costing £1,000 more.