Audi’s smallest performance sedan has finally come to the United States, so we’re naturally excited about it. Reviews have started to come out of the new Audi RS3 Sedan and we have been hoping that it turned out to be good. All of this waiting for Audi to bring the RS3 ‘Stateside would have been for nothing if it wasn’t any good. Fortunately for us, it seems that the RS3 is very good.
Automobile Magazine was recently allowed to test the Audi RS3 Sedan on both road and track, as were many other journalists. It seems as if the RS3 exceeded expectations by being even better than expected.
Many enthusiasts criticize the Audi RS3 for being a rebadged Volkswagen Golf. However, it’s so much more than that. Yes, it’s based on the same MQB platform as the Golf but it’s so thoroughly enhanced. Under the hood lies Audi’s own all-new 2.5 liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine that makes 400 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. That punchy ‘five is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic that sends power to all four wheels. Technically, it’s a Haldex all-wheel drive setup badged as Quattro but it can send up to 100 percent of its torque to the rear axle. And from what we’ve read in this Automobile review, it’s no shy about doing so.
Performance was never really a question, though. We know how powerful that engine is and how fast that gearbox shifts, so we knew the RS3 would be quick. How quick exactly? Well, 0-60 mph gets done in 3.9 seconds, which is about as fast as an Audi RS5, BMW M3 and Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. All of those three aforementioned cars cost about $20,000 more than the RS3.
Easily the largest criticism of fast Audis is the fact that they understeer too much. The RS3 understeers a bit, of course, but it can be easily mitigated and even made to oversteer. To quell typical understeer issues, Audi reduced 57 lbs from the engine, which reduces weight over the front axle, therefor reducing understeer. With the all-wheel drive system sending power rearward when needed, it actually oversteers quite easily on corner entry. It won’t drift like a BMW M2 but it will rotate and slide just enough to be fun and controllable. The idea of a front-wheel drive-based Quattro Audi allowing control over its rear axle is a shocking, though very welcome, one.
On the track, Automobile claimed that “After just three laps — that’s all we got — I can confidently state that the RS3 would be a good partner for making passengers either laugh their butts off or throw up in pretty short order. It’s that much fun.” Music to our ears.
But the Audi RS3 Sedan isn’t meant to be a track car but a road car that can handle some track duty. So Automobile was also able to test it on the road. With the suspension set to Comfort mode, it’s smooth and supple on the road and it makes for a superb daily sports car. It even has a decent back seat and usable trunk.
We’re very happy to hear that the Audi RS3 Sedan is a good car. We were nervous that it would just be a badge-job to appease the whiners. However, it seems to be a genuinely good sport sedan and one that has the pace of much more expensive cars.