The RS3 Sportback is the entry hot hatch in Audi's performance RS range. Been eyeing it up? Check our review!
Excellent performance - a joy to drive
Interior is excellent - minimalist and sporty
Running costs are pretty dire
The upfront cost is too much
The Audi RS3 Sportback is the lowest rung of the Audi RS ladder. Don't be fooled though, this hot-hatch is a beast - just don't be hoping for a great mpg to match the miles per hour! With only two trims and one engine choice, the Audi RS3 is definitely a car that knows what it wants to do.
Audis are always great looking, and the RS3 hatchback lives up to the manufacturer's rep. On the outside, there's plenty of sporty styling but it's not too in your face - you won't get too many looks picking the kids up from school. The RS3 is actually one of the best family cars, and looks-wise isn't miles away from the standard Audi A3. Inside, the materials are of high quality, and it's an upmarket affair all round.
To drive, the RS3 is brilliant. It's 5-cylinder 400bhp turbo engine is really powerful, and you won't be wishing for an upgrade. It handles well thanks to quattro, Audi's all-wheel-drive system - although it doesn't quite meet the dizzying heights of the BMW M2 Competition. If you opt for the adaptive suspension, the RS3 is a really comfortable car. It's fun on country roads, nimble in cities, and comfortable on the motorway, making it one of the best small luxury cars on the market.
Practicality on the RS3 Sportback is terrific for a performance car, and it's much the same as the A3. The only difference is that the RS3 has 40 litres less boot space, but that's not a massive trade-off for the improvements. It compares well to competitors BMW and Mercedes, with a similar amount of practicality - thanks to the excellent Sportback body-shape. The Audi RS3 saloon is considerably less practical - but that's hardly a surprise.
Unfortunately, the RS3 isn't one of the most economical cars. The fuel economy and CO2 are poor, and the insurance group is exceptionally high. The upfront price is too much too, especially compared to other hot hatchbacks: the Volkswagen Golf R, Ford Focus RS, and Honda Civic Type R have around the same max speed and are considerably cheaper.
You're definitely paying a premium for that Audi badge, but the same can be said for the A45 AMG. We Britons love our German cars!
Overall though, you can't really expect the RS3 to be efficient. It's a performance car! Whether it's worth the (incredibly) high price tag is up to you. A powerful, practical, and pricey car, the RS3 is a staple car in the Audi RS line.
The RS3 standard trim comes with plenty of bells and whistles, like a dual-screen infotainment system, Audi's Virtual Cockpit, cruise control, LED headlights, and leather seats. This Sportback has lower, sportier suspension when compared to your bog-standard Audi A3.
RS3 Sportback Sport Edition
The Sport Edition is only a couple of grand more expensive, so don't expect a totally different experience. The main difference in this trim is the tinted windows, carbon fibre dashboard, the 'RS Sports Exhaust system' (much louder), and sports seats.
The RS3 is a great looking car. It's very similar to the vanilla A3 after a few cycles of performance-enhancing drugs. The Sportback body style makes for some sleek angles on this car, and it has supercar written all over it. Thankfully though, it's not too in your face. Driving your kids to school in the RS3 won't be suspect, and it actually makes for an efficient family car - with a sports car engine.
The Audi RS3 Sportback only has one engine, so no need for too much contemplation. It's only available with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission - while some manual lovers will be disappointed, this DCT gearbox is smooth and satisfying to use. The RS3 is also fitted with Audi quattro, the excellent four-wheel-drive system.
Under the hood, the new Audi RS3 comes with a turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine, with an incredible 400hp and a top speed of 155mph. Utilising Audi's all-wheel-drive technology, the quattro system, the RS3 is capable of a 0-62mph time of just 4.1 seconds. This puts it bang in the middle of competitors, as it's faster than the BMW M2 Competition, but a touch slower than the Mercedes-AMG A45.
It's hard to imagine an Audi being uncomfortable, and the RS3 is no different. In performance cars, you often have to sacrifice comfort for speed, but that's not the case here. The driving position is really comfortable, with plenty of adjustability on the steering wheel and chair. The RS3 is no less luxurious than the A3, despite being much more powerful.
This car is straightforward to drive, with crisp handling and a grippy feel to heading round corners, even at reasonably high speeds. Unfortunately, the BMW M2 just about edges the RS3 here, being a touch more engaging. The difference is minimal to be fair, and you won't have any complaints about how this car handles.
The standard suspension is decent, but it's worth the upgrade to Audi's adaptive suspension. This is incredible and really soaks up all the potholes in the road. This system adapts in real-time to your driving conditions, and it works well, transitioning between the smooth motorway and dodgy city streets seamlessly.