Audi RS3 Sportback vs Mercedes-AMG A45

Now that the new Audi RS3 Sportback is here, it’s redefining the hot-hatch segment. In fact, it’s almost in its own category of super-hatch, if there could be such a thing. Whereas most hot hatches have modest power but big-time thrills, the Audi RS3 Sportback is a fire-breathing speed-demon that will embarrass bonafide supercars of not even a decade ago. So how does it compete agains the next-best near super-hatch? Top Gear finds out.

In this newest comparison test, TG put the Audi RS3 Sportback up against the Mercedes-AMG A45, a pretty psychotic car in its own right. But before we get into how they are to drive, let’s take a look at their specs.

Under the hood of the new Audi RS3 Sportback lies its brand-new 2.5 liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine. Thanks to a new aluminum block, making it all-aluminum now, it pumps out 400 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. But it’s also 26 kg lighter than the outgoing one. It also spits out a devilishly delicious noise, one that sounds like no other on the road.

That fire-breathing engine is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and powers all four wheels. So it can rocket from 0-60 mph in a claimed 4.1 seconds, though we’ve seen it get as low as 3.9 seconds. So it’s brutally, devastatingly quick.

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In the other corner is the Mercedes-AMG A45 with its 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, making 367 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. That turbo-four is also mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch ‘box and powers all four wheels. So it can get from 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds, making it nearly as quick as the Audi.

So how do these cars get on when pushed on real-world roads? Well, despite being quite similar in the spec sheet, they’re two completely different cars on the road.

The Mercedes-AMG A45 immediately feels more special. Its massive aerodynamics, bright red cabin and metal switchgear on the inside all make it seems more of an event to drive. While the Audi RS3 Sportback is the better looking car, it’s typically reserved, like an Audi. It’s aggressive on the outside but the inside isn’t much different than a standard A3’s.

On the road, the AMG again feels like the more special car. In a straight line, there’s no contest — the Audi’s the winner. It’s far more brutal in its power delivery, in any gear at any time. It’s just violently quick. It also makes a much better noise, one of the best in the industry.

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However, when the road gets twisty, it’s the AMG that most enthusiasts would rather have. Its steering is more alive, its all-wheel drive system is more prone to oversteer and its more dynamic and its chassis is a bit more alive. It’s not that the Audi RS3 is bad, it’s just that it’s more clinical, more brutal and more focused on outright speed.

The AMG is more of a good time. It’s more exciting to drive under more circumstances. In a straight line or in bad weather, the RS3 is king. But there, there AMG isn’t bad either and it’s even better when the road gets twisty. So TG gave it the win.

Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.