Specifically developed for the U.S. marketplace, the 2018 Audi RS 3 is the first model of its kind. Audi’s new compact performance sedan draws its energy from an all-new 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine. Despite the car’s small size, that five-cylinder engine cranks out a whopping 400 horsepower, along with 354 lb-ft of torque. All that power is geared through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, driving all four wheels via a reinforced Quattro all-wheel drive system. Maximum torque is available at a low 1,700 rpm, and the engine puts out an impressive 160 horsepower per liter.
All that means the 2018 Audi RS 3 can rocket from 0-60 mph in an impressive 3.9 seconds, with a top track speed of 155 mph. If that’s not enough go for you, you can boost the top speed to 174 mph by adding Audi’s $4,800 Dynamic Plus package. The RS 3 offers a launch control system as well, allowing you to make the most out of all that power and all-wheel drive traction.
Visually, the Audi RS 3 displays a more athletic exterior persona with more sport focused styling elements than the rest of the A3 stable. Starting at the front, the RS 3 features Audi’s signature Singleframe grille with a three-dimensional honeycomb design. That’s complemented by an aluminum-matte finished blade that extends the full width of the car and connects to the large front air intakes. Wider front wheel arches hint at the vehicle’s performance DNA.
COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE
The 2018 Audi RS 3’s interior design elements provide driver-oriented switchgear with intuitive, user-friendly functions. The S sport seats offer sharply contoured side bolsters for added support during spirited driving maneuvers. They are Nappa leather and are embossed with the RS logo and feature contrast diamond stitching and four-way lumbar support.
The RS 3 is loaded with infotainment and driver assistance features and technology such as Audi’s Virtual Cockpit. The Virtual Cockpit comes packaged with the Bang and Olufsen sound system for $3,200. The RS Design package adds leatherette trim, more power outlets, and red accents throughout the interior for an extra $1,000. Audi’s MMI infotainment system provides standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration through a USB connection.
While the 2018 Audi RS 3 comes standard with plenty of safety kit, $1,400 adds the Driver Assistance Package. That includes adaptive cruise control, active lane assist, high beam assistant, and a front radar with a camera distance sensor.
The 400 horsepower five-cylinder engine delivers an authoritative rumbling exhaust note that never ceases to put a huge smile on your face. The unique and distinct rhythmic sound created by the standard RS exhaust system further enhance the sound.
Audi’s standard Quattro all-wheel drive system delivers as much power to the rear axle as possible in the 2018 Audi RS 3 for improved driving dynamics. The Audi Drive Select system provides four distinct driving modes: Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual. Each mode enables the driver to change gear shift points, steering and throttle response. Each mode also adjusts the damper control when equipped with Audi’s magnetic ride.
The 2018 Audi RS 3’s handling characteristics are also enhanced by RS-specific tuning. The stability control system features wheel selective torque control as well as an available sport mode. The progressive steering provided excellent road feedback. I preferred the Dynamic setting of the Drive Mode Select, as you would if you really want to push this car’s limits. However, it can make the ride a bit too harsh for some passengers, but at least the Comfort setting quelled their complaints. The staggered Pirelli P-Zero rubber offered exceptional grip, but they detract a bit from the comfort because of the low profile.
The 2018 Audi RS 3 sedan is a joy to drive. It’s quick and agile, but it’s also stable and comfortable when you want it to be. Audi’s entry-level sedan made a big impression, giving serious performance potential in a small package. This small sedan may look modest at first – even sedate – but a closer inspection reveal’s the car’s true potential. It was a blast to pilot on twisting back roads. However, all that power does come at a high price for such a small sedan. Even though it represents the entry point to Audi’s RS performance group, it will happily go toe to toe with its competitors like the BMW M2 and Mercedes-AMG CLA45.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2018 Audi RS 3 sedan
|Price as Tested:
|Engine:||2.5-liter turbocharged I5|
|Drivetrain (Layout):||Front engine, Quattro all-wheel drive|
|Horsepower:||400 @ 5,850 – 7,000 rpm|
|Torque:||3354 @ 1,700 – 5,850 rpm|
|Transmission:||7-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|Suspension:||Front: MacPherson strut with forged aluminum lower control arms and stabilizer bar.
Rear: Four-link with separate springs and shocks.
|Brakes:||Power-assisted ventilated discs (cross-drilled front)|
|Tires:||Front: Pirelli P-Zero RO2 255/30 R19 91Y summer performance
Rear: Pirelli P-Zero RO2 235/35 R19 91Y summer performance
|Fuel capacity:||15.5 gallons|
|Fuel economy (EPA):||19 city / 28 highway mpg|
|Width:||77.2 inches with mirrors inches|
|Turning Circle:||36.1 feet|
|Curb Weight:||3,593 pounds|