Americans have never had more choices when it comes to buying a new vehicle; from performance cars, to SUVs, and even performance SUVs. But, there was still some forbidden fruit out there in the form of the Audi RS3, which hasn’t been widely available here in the U.S. that is…until now…
It’s true that Audi started making the RS 3 available to Americans on a limited basis in late 2017. But, for 20-19, your chances of getting a hold of this rare treat become much better.
Power is an inline 5-cylinder that traces its roots back more than 40-years; now boasting a true 394-horsepower and 354 lb-ft. of torque from only 2½-liters of displacement. It crackles to life with an eager bark, that foretells the bite to come.
Of course the RS 3 has much in common with every other small vehicle based on Volkswagen’s MQB architecture, but it emulates most the Audi TT RS.
Now, hopping into any luxury sports sedan, even one this small, can sometimes be intimidating. But, everything inside the RS 3 is about as user friendly as it gets. Materials are as upscale as you’ll find in any small car, and there are things like the virtual cockpit and ascending multimedia screen that have the ability to wow you and your friends, no matter how many luxury cars they’ve been in.
Ride quality is very solid; not harsh normally, but big bumps or pot holes can give you quite a jolt.
Audi seems to have a knack for making high performance cars really easy to drive; and that continues here. Hop in, put the standard 7-speed S-Tronic trans into drive; and you’ll find plenty of immediate power without the car feeling jumpy or hyper. Keep applying the throttle and things go from fast to ridiculously fast in a hurry.
Launch control is there to help you manage it at the track, and it works fantastically. First gear pulls strong right from the get-go, with Quattro grip pulling you to 60 in just 3.7-seconds.
Automatic shifts are only moderately hard but very fast; and really, there’s abundant power no matter where the tach needle is pointing. 12.2-seconds was our best ¼-mile time, at 114 miles-per-hour.
When you call for more power, downshifts are quick and precise; alleviating some of our “no-manual-blues”.
Quattro all-wheel-drive pays even more dividends in the handling business, continuing to impress us with its ability to apply mega amounts of power in and out of corners without disturbing the chassis in any way. Sure, you can push hard enough to find some understeer; but turn-ins are laser sharp. The result is a fun game of give and take, with an equally-balanced amount of oversteer, that arrives at just the right time to shoot you to the next gate.
Look-wise, there’s enough here for the RS 3 to stand apart from lesser Audi 3s; but in typical Audi fashion, nothing flashy enough to upset the overall classy design.
Aluminum trim is the major departure, but our car’s Black Optic package blackens most of that; making the front splitter and wider wheel arches the biggest giveaways.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 19-City, 28-Highway, and 22-Combined, with our average beating that at 25.5 miles-per-gallon of Premium.
Pricing starts at $57,195; with a host of option packages available to boost it substantially from there.
So, we’re not dealing with any kind of a performance bargain here, but we are talking about a heck of a lot of performance crammed into a tiny package. Combine that with a refined driving experience that’s far superior to cars like the Ford Focus RS or Honda Civic Type R, and you get something truly special. The Audi RS 3 is not for everyone. And that’s exactly why we love it.
Engine: 2.5 liters
Torque: 354 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 3.7 seconds
1/4 mile: 12.2 seconds @ 114 mph
EPA: 19 mpg city / 28 mpg highway