As far as hot-hatches go, the Audi RS3 is among the best. Its 400 hp/354 lb-ft 2.5 liter turbocharged five-pot, raucous engine note and blistering performance make it a genuinely special thing. But what if you can another hot-hatch that’s almost as fast, a bit more spacious and quite a bit cheaper from one of Audi’s VW Groups cousins?
In this new comparison test from Carwow, we take a look at the Audi RS3 Sportback and the SEAT Leon Cupra R. For those of you Audi snobs that don’t know, SEAT is another brand under the VW Group umbrella and makes some genuinely fun hot hatches. The new Cupra R is its latest and offers an ABT performance upgrade from the factory, which the car in this test has.
So it uses a 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, with 345 hp and 324 lb-ft of torque, to combat the Audi RS3. So it’s quite a bit less powerful than the Audi. Which one is quicker in a straight line? Of course it’s the RS3. However, it’s not by as much as you might thing. The RS3 did a 0-60 mph sprint in 4.2 seconds while the Cupra R did it in 4.4 seconds. That’ surprisingly quick considering how far down on power it and and that it’s larger. But what about how they drive?
On twisty roads, it’s actually the Cupra R that’s more fun and engaging. That’s because it’s less luxurious and slightly less refined, allowing more chassis communication to get to the driver. It’s also just a bit more playful and exciting. While the Audi RS3 is more refined, a bit smoother and calmer, even when driven hard. It does everything for you and feels a bit disconnected.
Overall, though, Carwow’s Mat Watson chose the Audi RS3 because its engine is far more charismatic and it’s more comfortable in the majority of daily driving, while still being fun. Plus, it’s fast as hell.