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For a fraction over £2000, Litchfield will give your Audi RS3 more power than the previous Porsche 911 Turbo. We find out whether it's worth doing

Our Verdict

Audi RS3

Audi Sport reaches for more power, and a new bodystyle, for the facelifted RS3

  • First Drive

    Litchfield Audi RS3 2018 review

    For a fraction over £2000, Litchfield will give your Audi RS3 more power than the previous Porsche 911 Turbo. We find out whether it's worth doing
  • First Drive

    Audi RS3 Sportback UK 2017 review

    Audi Sport's firebrand hatchback gets an even more brilliant engine, but still falls short of the dynamic finesse and driver involvement necessary to make
8 January 2018

What is it?

What we have here is an Audi RS3 with more power than the previous-generation Porsche 911 Turbo.

As it rolls out of the factory, the RS3 hardly seems short on performance, with a thumping 395bhp five-cylinder engine and sub-4.0sec 0-60mph time. But tuning company Litchfield is in the business of making fast cars even faster, and that’s exactly what it has done to Audi’s mid-sized rocketship.

The headline figure is 500bhp, but the uplift in torque output - from 354lb ft to a massive 484lb ft - almost certainly has an even more profound effect on the way the RS3 slingshots itself along a road. You might be thinking Litchfield’s engine-builders must have thrown everything they had at the RS3's five-pot - bigger turbo, uprated exhaust system, reinforced internals. The works.

But, in fact, all it’s taken to liberate 105bhp and 130lb ft from the 2.5-litre engine is a remap, a new air filter and a bigger intercooler. That’s it. Little wonder Iain Litchfield calls it "one of the best engines we’ve ever modified".

He says the previous RS3 motor was good but reckons this new unit is on a different level altogether. His theory is that manufacturers are being so hamstrung by emissions regulations these days that the only way they can make their high-performance engines efficient enough to pass the tests while also producing the necessary power is to really overload them with high-end tech, such as high-flow exhaust systems.

Then, they’re forced to cork the engines with restrictive maps. It all means that with just a simple remap - and, in this case, a few other tweaks - tuners like Litchfield can very easily uncork them and realise huge power gains.

What this means for the customer is that such upgrades are very affordable; including VAT and installation, this one costs £2058. 

What's it like?

At low speeds, or at a motorway cruise, you wouldn’t know this RS3 had been fettled in any way. The engine feels exactly as it does in standard tune, with none of the histrionics or fussy, boosty behaviour you might expect of a turbocharged engine that’s producing 200bhp per litre.

But when you wind it up, you’re left in no doubt. There is perhaps a little more lag than before, but it’s more of a split-second hesitation as the engine draws breath than a fundamental response problem. The boost threshold remains very low, too, just as on the standard car. From 2500rpm it starts pulling and from 3000rpm it lights up, exploding right the way around to the 7000rpm redline.

There’s so much overtaking performance now - thanks also to infinite four-wheel-drive traction and the whip-crack dual-clutch automatic gearbox - that you needn’t ever get stuck behind a slower vehicle again. Running the standard Audi exhaust system, the RS3's soundtrack is rich and distinctive without being unnecessarily loud or boisterous. You’re well aware, too, that what lies beneath the bonnet isn’t merely a five-cylinder engine.

What of the rest of the car? Litchfield has left the chassis alone - for now, at least - and if you can accept that the RS3 will never be as intoxicating or as challenging on the limit as the rear-driven BMW M2, for instance, there is an awful lot to enjoy about it.

It feels much better balanced now, with less inherent understeer. The steering is sharp and direct, while the suspension is more compliant than it was on the previous RS3, which means the car feels fluid and composed on a bumpy road rather than skittish and uncomfortable.

Elsewhere, the minimalist cabin is attractive and the material quality is very good, while the exterior styling strikes a neat balance between aggression and subtlety. All things considered, the RS3 - especially with 500bhp - is a very appealing daily driver indeed. 

Should I buy one?

If you want to make your RS3 as accelerative as a 911 Turbo, yes, you should. There is a caveat, though; upgrades like this one will void your manufacturer warranty. If you’re very protective of your warranty, then, perhaps it’d be best to let it expire before you pay Litchfield a visit.

That being said, the upgrades are entirely reversible and Litchfield hasn’t yet had any run-ins with Audi’s warranty department. And, as attested by the number of new car owners who remap and tune their cars straight from the showroom floor, some people just aren’t bothered. For them, Lichfield’s upgrade is a no-brainer. 

Litchfield Audi RS3

Where Gloucestershire On sale Now Price £2058 for remap, intercooler and air filter, installed Engine 5cyls, 2480cc, turbocharged, petrol Power 500bhp at 6430rpm Torque 484lb ft at 4070rpm Gearbox 7-spd dual-clutch automatic Kerb weight 1515kg Top speed 180mph (estimated) 0-62mph 3.5sec (estimated) Fuel economy na CO2 na Rivals BMW M2, Mercedes-AMG A45

Join the debate

Comments
16

8 January 2018

105hp increase for £2,000 is incredible.  Long may straight 5's continue, just wish Audi replaced the 4 pot in the S3 with a 275hp straight 5, I'd pay a couple of grand more.

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

8 January 2018

First, that's a big power and torque increase for a transmission to handle and is partcuarly worrying with a DSG transmission. Second, if the engine is deliberately detuned for emissions reasons, surely this upgrade must adversely affect emissions. Given you are not permitted to, for example remove a DPF and then drive the car on the road, how long until legislation prevents tinkering with the ECU without at the very least reassessing the car's emissions? That aside, the power and performance figures are incredible but the price is astonshing. Can you go faster for less (with four doors)?

8 January 2018

Enjoyed the ‘internal’ photo. 

The most fun you can have in an RS3, is playing on your laptop!

8 January 2018

500 bhp is an awful lot of power from a 2.5 ltre engine. Hopefully engine longevity won't be affected.

8 January 2018

I can understand the more power thing,but, why has nobody come up with a good steering set up to give Audi’s more feel and so on...?

Peter Cavellini.

8 January 2018
Peter Cavellini wrote:

I can understand the more power thing,but, why has nobody come up with a good steering set up to give Audi’s more feel and so on...?

The article says they left the chassis alone, I read that as Ian Litchfield said 'I am a tuner, not a miracle worker!' 

8 January 2018

does the dual clutch pack cost to replace? Although is durablility really going to be a problem, unless you frequent track days or are completely unhinged on the road?

Citroëniste.

jer

8 January 2018

Worried about the dual clutch is it rated to support 500 bhp and alsmost 500 lb ft?  What about the effect on the turbo ? I doubt it's within the tolerances unless Audi has future proofted this engine to 500 bhp. Audis waranty department will no doubt be noting LL17 CHO !

Also insurance I know these things are almost untraceable but what effect would it have on premiums?

Very intersting so a high performance engine is more efficent by design through better breathing I assume but where tuned for economy can produce low emissions/consumption but this can be reversed to set free the design. So perhaps Audi has tested them up to 500 bhp. 

8 January 2018

So, you spend 2 grand, risk voiding the warranty, risk wrecking the transmission, massively increase the insurance (they don't like tweaks), and all you get back is 0.5sec off the 0-60 time from a car that is already stupendously fast, and faster than most who will drive it.

Doesn't sound like a great idea to me!

8 January 2018
mondeoman wrote:

So, you spend 2 grand, risk voiding the warranty, risk wrecking the transmission, massively increase the insurance (they don't like tweaks), and all you get back is 0.5sec off the 0-60 time from a car that is already stupendously fast, and faster than most who will drive it.

Doesn't sound like a great idea to me!

very true, but I imagine to the people buying these, footballers, city boys or Middle East play boys £2k is nothing. But they will get bragging rights in the car park or track day cafe. A lot of people probably can’t understand why you would need an rs4 over an s4 or even an s4 over a 2.0 s line Quattro. 

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