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Test Audi RS3 Sportback / Mercedes CLA 45 AMG

Rossen Gargolov
Audi RS3 and Mercedes CLA 45 AMG test
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W he news spread like wildfire last year via the auto channels on the net: “Four instead of five” was the headline of some, “Ende Legende”, others mocked. Underneath you could see the picture of the camouflaged Audi RS3, then it was explained quite clearly why the five-cylinder is now coming to an end, and at the bottom were the user comments. Anger spoke out of some, disbelief in others, disappointment in all.

Five-cylinder RS3 stronger than ever

For a few months it has been clear: The devil was only painted on the wall. How did the graffiti come about? Hard to find out. Perhaps someone misread the coffee grounds or let the TT study at the time with a 420-horsepower twelve-liter lead onto the ice. Ultimately, the main thing is that the five-cylinder is back after its short break from work: As always, 2,480 cubic meters, but with 367 hp and 465 Nm more powerful than ever.

The CLA Shooting Brake is particularly important on not being a station wagon. Hollow back, trunk lid, four doors - who would think of that? With the Audi RS3, uniformity will also be over in the future. The sedan is set, a convertible is not unthinkable. For now, however, it remains with the Sportback version and - definitely - with the double coupler. Manual transmission? Not provided! Demand regulates supply; customers want it that way. Blah, blah. Translated: In the end, it's our own fault.

So at first you miss the aha effect: a few seat embroidery, steering wheel with Alcantara patches, red inlays in the air vents - the rest is also in the TDI. And even the generation leap does not change the world initially. You can still only really hear the classic five-cylinder singing in the tame driving programs in which the exhaust system does not rumble at the rear and keep roaring in between; and it still seems extremely beefy: in corners as well as when accelerating.

The direct-injection turbo-pust fires off, perhaps reacting in a corner more spontaneously than before, but then doesn't squeeze much more forcefully. The torque increased by 15 Nm - not much comes from a little. You can feel the 27-hp kick in return - from the top, where the Audi RS3 literally catches fire, torches towards the summit, only to crackle with a pop when upshifting through the tailpipes. Pressure, drive, drama- It's nice to have you back!

Gear ratio costs - with both

The Audi RS3 - like the Mercedes CLA 45 AMG Shooting Brake - wastes part of the potential with the ratio : Already the fifth of the seven gears goes up to over 250, the sixth only comes into play when the Vmax is increased to 280. Ergo: Especially with Ela, a lot more would be possible with a shorter spread.

All complaining at a high level. Especially since the Audi RS3 is finally one that keeps its promise of lightweight construction: It should be 50 kilos less, 48 ​​are. Fits! Even more: the needs of yore are now virtues. You may still remember: The predecessor had wider tires at the front than on the rear axle, which was communicated quite bluntly as a makeshift solution because of the load requirements. The new one is now all around 235 in the base. 255s are available for an extra charge, again only at the front because of the narrow rear wheel arch, but this time exclusively for the benefit of driving dynamics.

But the tire width is only one link in a whole chain of changes with which you want to prevent the annoying understeer : further track, more focused rubber compound from Pirelli, aggressively geared progressive steering with RS characteristic curve and - as the most elementary component possibly - the wheel-selective torque distribution, which already made the TT legs and works here too. Already when turning in, it shifts the power proportions in the all-wheel drive so that a turning impulse is generated on the rear axle in the direction of the apex of the curve.

Sportiness is essential in the CLA 45 AMG Shooting Brake fully through

Bottom line: The Audi RS3 Sportback angles a whole corner more neutrally in the test, occasionally even lifts the rear and builds up significantly more lateral support in the further course of the curve than its rather clumsy ancestor - also and especially under load. In other words: The top-heavy weight distribution withdraws a good bit from the cornering behavior, although it actually only shifts in the decimal area.

Mercedes also optimized the balance of the A 45 AMG Shooting Brake - the cause is one other. In general, it is the most balanced of all A-class derivatives. Not that they had nibbled anything in front of him, but simply because someone is strapping something on his back. It weighs an impressive 1,659 kilos in total, 74 more than an A 45, a whopping 60 kilos more than the Audi RS3.

The amazing thing: the large-capacity CLA is by no means bulky, in fact quite the opposite. Because in contrast to the Audi RS3, which cushions its sportiness a bit in some places, it penetrates to you in the thinner-walled Mercedes almost unfiltered: via the rugged chassis, via the lively high-revving engine and via the omnipresent exhaust system, which the four-cylinder whimpers first roars down, then constantly nagging at the stern and atGear changes spit even cheekier than the Audi RS3. In short: the rear of the station wagon, pardon: the shooting brake dress, maybe changes the view towards the rear, the flair of the 45 remains the same - including all advantages, but also all disadvantages.

Bull hits a riot box

You can guess what's coming: Exactly, there is still a huge turbo lag between gas and pressure. And yes, the Mercedes CLA 45 AMG Shooting Brake bitches after launch control starts. The only new thing is that this time the self-protection system snaps shut after the first time. The usual procedure follows: go cold, talk well, next try - and all over again. What is it? Perhaps the ruthless engagement for the four-wheel drive slats is really too much. Perhaps you are overly careful with the emergency program?

In principle, it doesn't matter: Audi shows that there is another way. The Audi RS3 similarly mercilessly attacks its Haldex Quattro at the jump start, even slipping on all fours for a short time and then stamping off. Sudden, huge and only from the fourth attempt with a slight slippery grip.

Nevertheless: The Mercedes bravely defends itself in the test against the impending preliminary decision. On country roads, with its dry set-up, it feels even more grippy, turns just as quickly through the slalom despite the extra weight and pretzels through Hockenheim, as usual, refreshing. In everyday life, the engine and transmission stumble on top of each other, but when kept on pull they harmonize perfectly. You don't notice the brakes even several fast laps in a row, and the Dunlops hold out more bravely than the Audi tires.

Audi RS3 a second faster at Hockenheim

That the Mercedes CLA 45 AMG Shooting Brake is still a whole second behind the Audi RS3 in the test, has two reasons: First, the more hesitant steering behavior, this millisecond that lies between steering action and reaction, and its not quite as resilient front axle, which is mainly below Pull off the adhesion earlier. Again: These are not real weaknesses, the Audi is just a bit more energetic in both respects.

Better sprint, less kilos per horsepower, faster in the ring - it would have been an easy test victory for the Audi RS3 can. Oh, where from: must be. And yet he almost throws it away - on the brakes, again. This time, however, the problem is not with the stability, but with the ABS, which was already regulating quite confused on the round and ultimately also sabotaged the standard measurement. Let's be honest: a car that goes to 100 in 4.2 seconds does not brake more than 37 meters, in principle, and especially when the predecessor comes to a stop after 35. Dynamics is not a one-way street, period!

One possible way out could be the optional ceramic brake. It is a novelty, but for some inexplicable reason it has not been installed. Had, would, if. In any case, Audi has to be onthe braking work, urgently. Otherwise the chatter will start - and this time not because someone publishes a duck again.


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