The comfort of a saloon and the acceleration of a performance car are blended together to make the Audi RS3 Saloon. Check out the rest of our review here.
Great engine noise
Great straight line performance
Very firm ride
Doesn’t have the latest Audi infotainment setup
The Audi RS3 is a bit like a tin of Ronseal - that is, it does exactly what it says on the tin. For those of you that aren’t familiar with performance car lingo, no, that’s not what RS stands for (phew). RS is actually short for RennSport, literally “Racing Sport” in English. So, perhaps unsurprisingly, the RS3 Saloon is just a supercharged version of the Audi A3 Saloon.
This pits it against some of the best affordable sports cars like the BMW M2 and the Mercedes AMG A45 Saloon. As with most Audi performance cars, the emphasis here is on controlled driving in all weather conditions thanks to its quattro all-wheel-drive setup. It sacrifices a bit of fun as a result, but you’d be hard pressed to fault Audi’s quattro system in this car, which makes for proper sports car levels of performance. You’ll want to upgrade to the sports exhaust system for the full experience.
The interior of the RS3 is lush, if a little dated in terms of its infotainment offering, and while practicality certainly isn’t this car’s strong point you should still have no trouble fitting four people in comfortably.
This isn’t the only flavour of RS3 on offer either. If a hot hatch is more your style, why not check out our review of this hot saloon’s hot hatchback sibling, the Audi RS3 Sportback.
The standard Audi RS3 Saloon comes with all the Audi goodies you could ask for. That includes: Galvanised silver 19 inch x 8J “5-arm blade” alloy wheels, RS Sport Suspension, Audi Parking Plus technology and the fantastic Audi MMI Navigation system with Audi Virtual Cockpit.
RS3 Saloon Sport Edition
If the standard RS3 Saloon wasn’t refined enough, check out the Sport Edition trim, which includes 19inch x 8.5J (front) and 8J (rear) “5-arm rotor style” Audi Sport alloy wheels in glossy anthracite black, a panoramic glass sunroof, sports exhaust, black highlights, carbon inlays and a set of ‘Super’ sports seats in fine Nappa leather with RS embossing.
For the latest trim pricing checkout, the Audi RS3 Saloon lease deals page here you will find our best offers. Or if looking for alternative saloon car deals we have this covered, we compile the best leasing offers across England, Wales and the rest of the UK.
You’ll be forgiven for thinking that the RS3 looks a lot like its sibling, the A3. That’s because it’s largely the same car, with a few welcome visual improvements. It swaps the standard wheelbase for a wider, squatter stance and replaces the regular grille with the RS quattro honeycomb grille and that all-important “quattro” badge.
The RS3 saloon is a great choice if you’re looking for a fast four door with a slightly smaller form factor.
Engine and Performance
The Audi RS3 Saloon’s rumbling 2.5-litre five cylinder engine provides all the power you’ll need. Rev this thing up and you’ll get more snaps, crackles and pops than a bowl of rice krispies. Of course, all of this comes at a price. The claimed MPG of 30 is a little optimistic, particularly if you’re not mindful of your driving. Considering the RS3 is attempting to bridge the gap between your standard saloon and a performance car, this shouldn’t be too surprising.
The 2.5L TFSI Quattro packs 395bhp and will see you from 0-62mph in just 4.1 seconds, reaching a top speed of 155mph. You can, of course, boost that to 174mph by paying an extra £1,600 for the removal of the electronic limiter, though we’re not entirely sure why you would want to without your own personal race track.
Each RS3 packs Audi’s signature quattro four-wheel-drive system to ensure you’re still in command on tight corners and slippery surfaces. It’s not quite as fun to drive as the BMW M2, but then you also don’t get all-wheel drive with the M2 either.
The only choice of gearbox is the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic ‘S tronic’. Gear changes are fast with Audi’s Dynamic mode engaged on the Drive Select system. In other driving modes the gearbox is smooth but gear changes are noticeably slower. Despite this, the RS3 is still one of the best automatic cars in its class.
The standard sports suspension means you’ll feel a few more bumps than in the standard Audi A3 Saloon, but it still manages to smooth out potholes impressively well. For the best of both worlds you’ll want to make sure you fit the optional adaptive suspension, which will let you stiffen or soften the car’s suspension at the touch of a button.
Audi RS3 Saloon Interior
Almost every inch of the Audi RS3’s interior from the steering wheel to the seats is covered with leather, Alcantara or soft touch plastic. Brushed metallic trims and turbine style air vents give it an undeniably sporty feel, and the Audi Virtual Cockpit with MMI Navigation Plus add to the premium feel.
The Audi RS3 Saloon packs Audi’s 7-inch colour MMI sat-nav and infotainment screen and Audi’s Virtual Cockpit. If you’re a fan of physical controls, you’ll be glad to know that this model retains Audi’s rotary input and button setup, making it easier to navigate menus without taking your eyes off the road.
If you’re not satisfied by the engine noise on this thing (we’re not sure why you wouldn’t be) then you can always add the ‘comfort and sound’ pack, which will upgrade the standard Audi speakers to a Bang and Olufsen Sound System, and comes with a few extra goodies like a rear-view camera and an ‘advanced key’ that will mean you never have to fumble around in your bag again. Opt for the slightly pricier 'Audi Tech Pack' and you'll have access to Audi's Connect Infotainment Services which will hook your RS3 up to the internet.
The Audi RS3 saloon scores a little less highly in terms of practicality thanks to its smaller form factor and sloping roof.
4,479 mm L x 1,802 mm W x 1,397 mm H
The Audi RS3 is at the smaller end of Audi’s car range. It never feels unmanageable, but it might leave you longing for “just a bit more” space.
The Audi RS3 Saloon has a boot capacity of 335 litres - 45 litres less than the RS3 Sportback. This is only slightly larger than some superminis, but it’s perhaps easy to forget that the four-wheel drive system and large five cylinder engine upfront is eating into some of that space.
Audi added an extra 35mm to the RS3’s wheelbase, which frees up enough space in the back for rear seat passengers to get comfy. The sloping roof on the RS3 saloon may mean that the tallest passengers end up rubbing against the roofline.
The Audi RS3 Saloon hasn’t been tested by Euro NCAP, though the standard A3 received a full five star Euro NCAP rating. Audi Parking System Plus and Cruise Control come as standard, but optional extras include a reversing camera, Lane Keep Assistance and Audi Pre-Sense which can pre-empt crashes and take precautionary measures such as tightening seat belts and closing the windows to protect the occupants.
The five cylinder Audi engine sounds hungry, and surprise surprise… it is.
The 2.5 litre TFSI petrol engine has a claimed 33.2 mpg. Expect to reach the high 20s, if you’re lucky.
The Audi RS3 isn’t cheap to insure. It sits a couple of groups lower than the Mercedes AMG A45.
|Cheapest Trim||Lowest Insurance Group||RRP|
The Audi RS3 Saloon has a stronger residual value than many of its main competitors like the A45, though reports on Audi reliability in general are mixed, with the manufacturer placing 34th out of 40 manufacturers on the Reliability Index.
The RS3 comes with the standard three-year/60,000-mile Audi warranty, which can be extended on an annual basis up to 100,000 miles.
Audi has two servicing schedules for different types of drivers. The ‘flexible’ service regime suits high mileage drivers and could mean you only need an oil change every two years or 18,000 miles.
Audi’s ‘fixed’ service schedule is for predominantly town and city drivers, requiring an annual checkup/once every 9,000 miles.