Select a year
- Highs Hugely fun to drive, extremely quick, world-class cabin design and tech.
- Lows Very firm ride, tall adults won’t be happy for long in the second row, expensive.
- Verdict If you can live with the eye-watering price, then you’ll be smitten by how the Audi RS3 rips down the road.
The 2018 Audi RS3 is a small German sports sedan that delivers a giant performance punch thanks to its turbocharged five-cylinder engine, standard Quattro all-wheel drive, and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. During our time with it, this fearsome four-door needed only 3.5 seconds to accelerate from zero to 60 mph. That’s faster than potent rivals such as the BMW M2 and Mercedes-AMG CLA. Even better is that the RS3’s interior is one the classiest and most elegantly appointed cabins you’ll find in a small luxury car. The one tradeoff is that tall adults seated in the second row aren’t going to stay friends if the drive ahead is a long one.
What's New for 2018?
Basically, everything from the wheels to the roof. This marks the first model year for the RS3, the latest in a prestigious line of RS-badged models from Audi.
- Base: $59,075
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The RS3 is motivated by a turbocharged five-cylinder engine that routes 400 horsepower to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. This powertrain is intoxicating and comes with a unique exhaust note that entices you to drive with the windows down at every opportunity. Thankfully, the RS3 is much more than simply a heavy-hitting engine in a small sedan. Twirl the steering wheel and you’ll revel in how finely engineered the chassis and suspension settings feel in every type of driving situation. Take note, the RS3's ride is firm, and adding the optional sport suspension makes it even firmer. But we think it’s worth the tradeoff, because it brings even more agility to this superb performance sedan.
EPA fuel-economy testing and reporting procedures have changed over time. For the latest numbers on current and older vehicles, visit the EPA’s website and select Find & Compare Cars.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Let’s start with the bad news. Space in the second row is limited, and tall passengers could feel cramped back there. The trunk is also tight, even by small luxury sedan standards. Now, the good news is that the front sport seats are comfortable and look great. Standard features include heated front seats, leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, and upscale aluminum trim. While the basic structure of the RS3 cabin is shared with the regular A3 and S3 models, there’s no arguing that this interior looks luxurious and feels built to last.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The RS3 features a sleek 7.0-inch retractable infotainment screen that raises and lowers automatically from the top of the dashboard. Simply turn on the ignition and watch the Audi MMI magic show unfold. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard with this unit, as are Bluetooth and a 10-speaker audio system. Audi’s 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit instrument display is optional and impresses with its sharp graphics. Purists might be more inclined to stick with the traditional gauges, though this remains an impressive piece of tech.
Safety Features and Crash Test Ratings
For more information about the Audi RS3‘s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites.
Some older vehicles are still eligible for coverage under a manufacturer's Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program. For more information visit our guide to every manufacturer's CPO program.