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WORLD PREMIERE: 2022 Audi RS3 — Save the Best for Last

Audi already gave up some info on the upcoming 2022 Audi RS3, including its incredible new RS Torque Splitter rear diff and its engine’s power. Now, though, the RS3 is fully revealed and it seems as if Audi saved the best for last.

 

This new 2022 Audi RS3 comes in two flavors — Sedan and Sportback — but they’ll both be the same under the skin. Europe will get both Sedan and Sportback models but North America will only get the Sedan.

 

Five-Cylinder Engine is Back

 

Power comes a familiar 2.5 liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine. Power gets a slight bump for the North American Audi RS3 Sedan, making 401 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque (500 Nm), however the Euro market makes do with 394 horsepower (400 PS). Thank emissions regulations and exhaust particulate filters for the power disparity. Peak power comes in earlier than the previous car, too, with all 401 horses available between 5,600-7,000 rpm.

 

The turbo five-pot is paired to an also-familiar seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. While the RS3 is still all-wheel drive, it uses a new RS Torque Splitter rear differential, which replaces the old electronic clutch with two electronically-controlled multi-plate clutch packs, one for each rear axle. That not only allows the RS3 to oversteer like it never could before but it also allows for a drift mode, dubbed “RS Torque Rear”. The latter allows the Audi RS3 to send all of its power to just the outside rear wheel, something never before possible in any other Audi.

 

According to Audi, the new RS3 is capable of 0-62 mph (100 km/h) in 3.8 seconds and a 290 km/h (180 mph) top speed, which is shockingly high for such a small car.

 

Sharper Than Ever Before

New passive dampers are RS3-specific and said to be both sportier and more comfortable than before. However, the optional RS sport suspension comes with adaptive dampers, for a better ride overall. It also sits 25 mm lower than the standard Audi A3. More importantly, though, Audi made some big changes to the chassis and suspension of the new RS3, to make it sharper and more dynamic.

 

In addition to the clever rear differential, which will help to eliminate understeer — and even induce oversteer — the RS3 was given increased negative wheel camber. More importantly, the front wheels have almost an additional degree of negative camber over the rear wheels. It seems as if Audi really took complaints of understeer to heart. New pivot bearings, lower front wishbones, and stiffer subframe bushings also increase the agility of the Audi RS3. It also gets stiffer rear wheel carriers, to handle the additional forces from the RS Torque Splitter.

For sharper steering, Audi fitted the RS3 with an RS-specific variable steering ratio, based on steering angle. Essentially, the more steering lock you add, the faster the steering ratio becomes, making it feel sharper and sportier as you add steering inputs. The steering weight is also variable and changes its power steering assist based on vehicle speed; it’s lighter at low speeds, heavier at high speeds.

 

All of those systems; the progressive steering, RS Torque Splitter, and adaptive suspension; are controlled by Audi’s new mVDC (modular vehicle dynamics controller). It allows for more control over all the systems, giving them faster, more accurate responses.

 

To help slow the Audi RS3 down are new six-piston calipers, with 375 mm vented and drilled discs up front and 310 mm discs out back. If you opt for the ceramic brake package, you get 380 mm discs up front.

 

Predictable but Good Looking

 

We all sort of knew what this Audi RS3 was going to look like, right? That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because the RS3 is a good looking car, in both body styles. However, it looks like a slightly sportier Audi S3, which is exactly what we were expecting.

 

The Audi RS3 gets a slightly revised honeycomb grille insert, sportier air intakes, slightly updated headlights, new side skirts, a new lip spoiler, and dual oval exhausts, the latter being an Audi Sport staple. The headlights look a bit predictable but they do feature a cool checkered flag-like design for the daytime running lights, if the Matrix LED lights are optioned.

 

I do admit that the new wheels are killer. They’re 19-inch 10-Y spoke cast wheels as-standard, with a sportier 5-Y spoke wheel as an option. For the first time ever, you can get proper track-oriented tires fitted to your RS3 from the factory, with the optional Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires semi-slick performance tires.

 

Only two RS-specific paint colors are optional; Kyalami Green and Kemora Grey. However, for the first time ever, the roof of the Audi RS3 Sedan can be optioned in a contrasting Brilliant Black. All of the exterior trim bits; grille surround, window trim, diffuser; are all painted black, either high-gloss or matte. Carbon fiber mirror caps and rocker panel inlays also add some sportiness to the exterior.

 

Inside, the Audi RS3 looks nearly identical to the standard S3, save for some sportier RS3 touches. For instance, the flat-bottomed steering wheel is wrapped in Alcantara and features a 12 o’clock stripe and Alu-Optic trim give it a more aggressive feel than the S3. But it’s the same, handsome, well-built cabin, for the most part.

There is one new interior bit that I want to mention separately, though — shift paddles. For ages, Audi has had some of the worst feeling shift paddles in the game. They’ve always felt plasticky and cheap. However, the new Audi RS3 is said to have die-cast, zinc paddles behind the steering wheel, which gives me hope that they’re going to feel nice. If we have to use automatic transmissions with paddle shifters, the paddles themselves should feel nice, a la that Alfa Romeo Giulia, so I’m hoping these do.

 

This new Audi RS3 seems to be the best RS3 yet and potentially the most fun Audi RS car in ages. Its combination of size, power, charismatic engine, performance, and newfound rear-drive bias should make it an absolute blast to drive. This generation of RS3 is also going to be the last gas-powered one yet. So not only did Audi save the best RS3 for the last but it also has the best, most powerful version of its 2.5 liter five-cylinder engine for it’s last hurrah. Audi really saved the best for last with this new RS3 and I can’t wait to drive it.

 

CategoriesEditorial RS3
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.