I had a revelation today when I drove this Stage 1+ Audi RS3 and it put my sentiments on the Ferrari 488 I drove last weekend into perspective.
I’m not “anti-turbo” in the slightest. Boost has been in my life since I began driving. My first car was a 2004 Subaru STi, which I still have. I love boost!
But I think that’s actually the point here… if a car is turbocharged, then I want the full experience of boost, lag, surge, noises, etc. I want all of that, leave nothing out.
The issue with the Ferrari, like many other turbo cars these days, is that it was engineered to try and minimize lag and make it feel as non-turbocharged as possible. It makes the car feel more natural on the road to the average driver, but it also removes the special aspects of the turbo experience.
Turbo lag builds anticipation, which makes the surge of power far more dramatic and exciting when it does hit. The Ferrari F40 is regarded as one of the greatest driving Ferrari’s of all time, it’s turbocharged, and has a notorious amount of lag before it makes the jump to light speed.
This RS3 feels properly turbocharged, with noticeable lag and a massive rush of power once the turbo spoils up. It reminded me how much I love the turbocharged experience when it’s allowed to just be itself.
Things never work right when you try to be something you’re not. The 488 is very responsive for a boosted car, but in the company of such sharp naturally aspirated cars as a 4.0L GT3 and a Huracan, it just felt a bit clumsy. Too much sense of lag to feel sharp and connected, and not enough lag to build the anticipation before blasting off. The result was effective for speed, but left me emotionally cold.
This RS3, on the other hand, was as exciting and as emotionally intoxicating as can be. The 2.5L 5 cylinder is such a special engine, and I really wish Audi/VW would use it in more models. Having just driven a Lamborghini Huracan a few days ago, I could see some clear inspiration from that V10 experience in the RS3’s 5 cylinder experience. It’s quite special.
So I’m all for boost, but let the boost be boost, and leave it at that. 🏎💨🔥🔥🔥