At first glance, this seems like a very odd drag race comparison test. The Audi RS3 Sedan is a small, petrol-powered sport sedan and the Jaguar I-Pace is a fully-electric crossover. So why would Carwow’s Mat Watson drag race the two cars? Well, because they both make 400 hp but do so in completely different ways, so it’s interesting to see which is the better way to make power; by combusting dead dinosaurs or with clean electricity?
The Audi RS3 uses a 2.5 liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine that makes 400 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. That power is sent through a dual-clutch gearbox and a Quattro-branded Haldex all-wheel drive system. The Jaguar I-Pace in questions is the EV400 variant, which means it makes 400 hp and 512 lb-ft of torque from two electric motors (one at the front axle, one at the rear), making it all-wheel drive as well. So which one is quicker off the line?
In most cases, the electric car is quickest by a large margin. There’s no need for its electric motors to rev, as they make peak torque at zero rpm, so EVs are always brutally quick off the line. We saw that in The Grand Tour’s recent ‘Audi R8 V10 Plus versus Tesla Model X‘ test, where the Tesla won despite weighing the same as a small building. In this case, though, both cars launch about equally as hard, without either car taking a real lead for the first 50 mph or so. That likely has to do with the RS3’s clever launch control which keeps launches it at peak torque and the fact that the RS3 is significantly lighter than the I-Pace.
After about 50 mph or so, though, the Audi RS3 starts to pull ahead and keeps increasing its lead until the end of the drag race, winning by a good margin. It’s surprising, actually, as the I-Pace’s lack of gears and more torque should make it pull harder for longer. But the RS3’s rapid-fire dual-clutch gearbox helps swap cogs without any real acceleration dip and allows the engine to sort of reset its torque curve.
Next, Carwow does a rolling drag race, where both cars start at the same speed while moving and accelerate from there. This is where the I-Pace should have an extreme advantage, as the RS3 is going to be in seventh gear while cruising and then have to downshift a few gears to make power once back on the gas. The I-Pace has no gears and, as previously mentioned, instant torque. The electric Jag does jump the RS3 once they both start accelerating, as the RS3 waits to change gears, however once in gear the RS3 decreases its gap and takes the lead just in time for the win.
Following the rolling drag race, they do a 60-0 mph braking test and the Audi RS3 wins again but only by a few feet. To be honest, despite losing, the Jaguar I-Pace gets a bit of a moral victory here, as it’s far heavier than the RS3 and it’s on less sticky tires with more rolling resistance, designed to help increase range. So the fact that it only took a couple of feet more to stop is impressive.
In the end, these two cars will never be cross-shopped and they aren’t competitors. They have completely different objectives and each perform them well. This was just an interesting exercise by Carwow to see which way to make 400 hp was faster. The Audi RS3 proved to be faster but that doesn’t mean it’s the better car.