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 hot hatchbacks, and looks-wise isn't miles away from the standard Audi A3 Saloon. 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.
For more information on pricing head over to our Audi RS3 Sportback deals page to see how much you can save on your next lease.
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.
Audi RS3 Sportback Interior
The inside of an Audi has often been a big selling point for car lovers. All the materials feel solid, and the dashboard layout is simplistic and elegant. The Audi RS3 is definitely a driver's car, so it's nice to see an uncluttered dash, so you can focus on the road.
The Audi RS3 Sportback is a great looking car that packs plenty of tech without being overwhelming. There's a reasonably sized infotainment screen (rocking the Audi MMI system), and Audi's Virtual Cockpit displayed behind the steering wheel, which is ideal for following sat-nav directions.
For being a performance car, the Audi RS3 Sportback is exceptionally practical. It's got a decent boot and a spacious interior. The Audi RS3 is more or less as functional as the Audi A3, albeit with a slightly smaller boot. The difference in performance is definitely worth 40 litres less boot space.
4,335 mm l x 1,800 mm w x 1,411 mm h
Thanks to it's 'Sportback' design, the RS3 makes for quite a practical car while remaining easy to handle. The roof is fairly tall, so it's bearable for tall people. The RS3 is only slightly wider than the Audi A3, so it's not a particularly big car.
Seats up: 335 litres
Seats down: 1175 litres
The boot on the RS3 is actually pretty good. While the saloon model is much in line with close competition, like the BMW M2 Competition, the Sportback design of this RS3 blows these two out of the water in terms of everyday practicality. Compared to the standard A3 though, and the boot space on the RS3 is around 40L less. A small price to pay for better… everything else?
For a performance car, the RS3 is exceptionally practical. The back seats are pretty spacious, but the middle seat isn't the most comfortable. To be fair, that's the same in some of the best luxury cars, so it would be unfair to mark the RS3 down for that.
Despite it's slight 'boy racer' image, the RS3 is a safe hatchback with a 5 Star Euro NCAP rating. This car is safe for a family too, with plenty of airbags, including advanced driver and passenger front airbags, knee airbags, thorax side airbags as well as side curtain airbags.
The Audi RS3 is a seriously expensive car to run. With a poor fuel economy, high CO2 emissions (high road tax), and costly insurance premiums, you better have a packed wallet to run the Audi RS3.
The Audi RS3 Sportback has an official fuel economy of 33.2 mpg, but you should expect a lot less if you like to put the foot down. This isn't miles off competitors BMW and Mercedes, but it's still on the low side.
The RS3 has never been a particularly clean car, but the latest version has the most environmentally friendly engine yet. That being said, the CO2 emissions of 189g/km translates to a road tax bill of £290. If you opt for an Audi RS3 lease deal, you won’t have to pay road tax - just a thought!
It should be of no surprise that the ultra-powerful Audi RS3 is expensive to insure. It's in group 40, which is about the average in this class. For comparison, the BMW M2 Competition is around group 39-42, depending on how you spec it. The RS3 is also cheaper to insure than the Mercedes AMG A 45, which is group 45.
|Cheapest Trim||Lowest Insurance Group||RRP|
Being a bit of a niche car, there's not a tremendous amount of reliability stats available on the RS3. In general, the consensus is that it's a reasonably reliable car, although some mechanical problems have been reported. The standard Audi warranty is relatively decent though, so we wouldn't be concerned about this car's reliability.
Audi offers a 3yr/60,000 mile warranty. With brands like Kia offering huge 7-year warranties, this is nothing special. Audi's fellow German rivals BMW also provide a better warranty - offering three years with no mileage limit, as does Mercedes, with their UK warranty of 4 years, 50,000 miles.
For those who drive short distances and in town a lot, Audi recommends a fixed service schedule - every 9,000 miles or one year.
If you're typically driving long distances on the motorway, they recommend flexible - up to 19,000 miles or every two years.