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 Audi’s fantastic 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.
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.