Amazing performance, looks, grip.
New Car Review | Audi RS3
Good Stuff 👍
Bad Stuff 👎
€30,000 more expensive than the already good S3.
What is the Audi RS3?
The full-fat no-compromise performance Audi A3.
The Audi RS3 is the full-fat, performance-focussed version of the rather beige Audi A3, this time in saloon guise, which is arguably the prettiest Audi A3. In a world which is going PHEV and electric, the RS3 is unapologetically a roaring petrol car, with the multi-award winning 2.5-litre 5-cylinder petrol engine throbbing under the bonnet and snarling out the back-end via a throaty pair of exhausts. With 400PS and 500Nm and quattro all-wheel drive, the RS3 will be chosen by someone that wants a no compromise performance saloon that is also pretty practical too.
How about the looks of the Audi RS3?
Aggressive, low-slung styling, but beautifully proportioned.
The Audi A3 saloon is a very pretty car, even in standard guise. It is one of the most proportionally-perfect cars on sale today and when it is given the Audi RS touches it really makes this a stunning car. It sits ten millimetres lower than the already low Audi S3 and 25 millimetres lower than the standard A3.
The wheel spacing has been widened by 33 millimetres at the front axle and there are flared arches, as well as a slightly protruding air outlet behind the front wheel arches. There is a wide, RS front bumper and a redesigned Singleframe with a distinctive honeycomb grille. At the back there is an RS-specific rear bumper with a built-in diffuser and an RS exhaust system with two large oval tailpipes. There are also stunning 19-inch wheels with a 10-Y spoke design. There are eight colours available for this model, including the RS-specific Kyalami Green and Kemora Gray finishes.
Paddy Comyn Head of Communications
“It sounds, amazing, aided and abetted by the trombone-like twin exhausts at the rear. ”
What is the inside of the Audi RS3 like?
Huge quality and sporty touches
Audi make the best interiors around and even a standard A3 is a nice place to be, but the RS3, as you might expect, is something quite special. You get the 12.3-inch virtual cockpit as standard and it displays the revolutions per minute (RPM) in the “RS Runway” design – the values are displayed in the opposite direction in a manner that resembles an airplane runway. In addition, the Audi virtual cockpit includes displays for g-forces, lap times, and acceleration from 0-100km/h, 0-200km/h, quarter mile and eighth of a mile. The 10.1-inch touch display in the instrument panel also displays the coolant, engine, and transmission oil temperatures, as well as the g-forces and, optionally, the pressure of the tyres. There is a lot of carbon fibre trim in the instrument panel and gorgeous RS sport seats with RS embossing and anthracite stitching.
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What is the Audi RS3 like to drive?
Limpet-like grip and an auditory treat
First things first, the star of the show of the RS3 lies under the bonnet as the 2.5-litre 5-cylinder petrol engine is a nine-times winner of the engine of the year award and it really is a masterpiece. It sounds, amazing, aided and abetted by the trombone-like twin exhausts at the rear. Start up the RS3 and it snarls into life. Sure, it will pootle around town, but a bit like an angry skin-head, barking obscenities at pensioners. It is at its best when set free to cause some mischief. There are various drive modes, including Comfort, Efficiency and the like but when you select one of the two RS modes, the fun really starts. Stamp on the accelerator and this car leaps at the horizon, munching up the 0-100km/h time in just 3.8 seconds, which is ferociously fast. Choose the optional RS dynamics package plus, which includes the ceramic brake system and adaptive suspension and the 250km/h top speed leaps to 290 km/h. This is a very, very fast car. But it is the grip and how the car puts down the power which is so very impressive. There is a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and this is the first Audi model with a torque splitter. This technology makes fully variable torque distribution between the rear wheels possible. The torque splitter uses one electronically controlled multiple disc clutch on each of the respective drive shafts. This ensures that the right amount of torque is optimally and continuously distributed along the rear axle. During tight cornering, the torque splitter increases torque to the outer rear wheel with the higher wheel load, reducing understeer. There is even a drift mode in this car, for use on, ahem, closed roads.
Which Audi RS3 should I buy?
The saloon is prettier than the hatchback.
There are two RS3s – you can have the Sportback, a five-door hatchback which is about €3,000 cheaper than the saloon, but it just doesn’t look anywhere near as handsome as the saloon, which, albeit more expensive just looks a lot better. At this price point we don’t think anyone is going to be worrying about a few extra thousands anyway. The real question is whether you should pay the extra €30,000 for the RS3 versus the S3. With 310hp and 400Nm of torque, the S3 is hardly slow and that is a big chunk of money in the difference. You would need to be a hardcore fan to choose the RS3 over the S3.
Is the Audi RS3 safe?
Tons of safety kit
There is the usual arsenal of passive safety systems in the RS3, but where this car is really impressive is on its driver assistance systems. There is Audi pre sense front which detects potentially dangerous situations in front of the car and warns the driver via visual and audible signals. This makes it possible to avoid accidents with other vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists or to reduce their severity. Collision avoidance assist helps drivers steer around an obstacle. There is also Adaptive Cruise Control available, but it wasn’t optioned on our press car.
The RS3 is a brutally fast, engaging and addictive performance car, but so is the S3, which isn’t that much slower, but is a full €30,000 (or an MG4) cheaper than the RS3. For some, only the RS3 will do and good luck to them, but for me, this price would be hard to justify, despite the car’s obvious ability.
Spec Check ⚙️
Audi RS3 Saloon
2,480cc 5-cylinder petrol engine
8.7 l/100km (combined)
Annual Motor Tax
Price as tested