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2020 Audi RS3

Starting at $57,195

2020 Audi RS3 front
Car and Driver

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  • Highs Charismatic engine, genuine athleticism, finely crafted interior.
  • Lows Small back-seat space, choppy ride on uneven surfaces, pretty pricey.
  • Verdict The RS3 delivers an unforgettable driving experience for a precipitous price.
By Drew Dorian and Eric Stafford


Audi proves tremendous performance can come in tiny packages with the boisterous 2020 RS3. The compact sports sedan looks aggressive enough to suggest it's more than an ordinary four-door. Behind its intake-heavy façade sits a 400-hp turbocharged five-cylinder engine that feeds a snappy automatic transmission and a proficient all-wheel-drive system. This unit delivers rapid acceleration that's bookended by a joyfully unique exhaust note. Behind the wheel, the littlest RS sedan creates big smiles thanks to its playful agility and willingness to be driven hard. While its back seat is small and its price tag is large, the 2020 RS3 primarily exists to entertain drivers who are more focused on thrills than bills.

What's New for 2020?

Audi doesn't make any changes to the 2020 RS3; however, we spied a disguised version of the next-generation model that should likely be available next year.

Pricing and Which One to Buy

Those who aren't satisfied with the performance of the 288-hp Audi S3 will have to pay about $13,000 more to own the feistier RS3 model. While we're confident that it's worth the extra investment, not everyone will need the extra performance. Our preferred 2020 RS3 would be lightly optioned with only the Dynamic package and the RS Design Selection Interior. The latter dresses up the cabin with more red accents and some nicer materials, but the former enhances the engine's soundtrack with a sport-tuned exhaust and improves feedback with a staggered set of summer tires that actually adds wider front tires. We'd skip the optional fixed sport suspension because it diminishes the ride quality on poorly maintained roads versus the standard adaptive dampers.

Engine, Transmission, and Performance

With a 400-hp turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder under the hood, this small sports sedan has the muscle to back up its menacing appearance. It boasts a redline of 6900 rpm, and the rip of its distinctive exhaust note—due to its unique five-cylinder engine—sounds amazing the whole way there. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission routes torque to all four wheels; in our testing, the RS3 hit 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. The Audi's most direct competitor is the Mercedes-AMG CLA-class—a similarly nimble four-door with almost the same footprint—but managed a slightly slower 3.8-second run to 60 mph. The BMW M2, although only offered as a two-door coupe, is also a decent analogue to the RS3, but it needed 4.0 seconds to reach 60 mph in our testing. The RS3 feels razor-sharp, with responsive steering and an agile suspension. Its ride can be rough over pockmarked pavement—especially with the optional sport suspension—but if you're looking to maximize the RS3's fun potential, it tightens things up so you can really throw down.

2020 Audi RS3 rear

Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG

Since every 2020 RS3 has a 400-hp turbo five-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive, it only has one set of EPA ratings. The government estimates it'll earn 19 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. The version we tested on our 200-mile fuel-economy route exceeded expectations and earned 30 mpg highway.

Interior, Comfort, and Cargo

The RS3's interior is borrowed from the lower-powered S3 and the entry-level A3—which isn't a bad thing. It's a well-built cabin with plenty of tech features and more than a few surprises, such as the infotainment screen that rises out of the center of the dash upon startup or the optional digital gauge cluster with integrated Google Maps. Front sport seats are stylish, comfortable, and supportive, and adults will easily find enough room in the first row. Back-seat occupants are treated to well-cushioned seats but passenger space is tight. Interior cubby storage is limited to a small center-console bin and useful door pockets.

2020 Audi RS3 interior

Infotainment and Connectivity

Every RS3 packs an infotainment system that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. The high-mounted display is operated through a combination of physical buttons, a volume knob, and a rotary controller on the center console. Those who want a fancier setup can have the Technology package that adds built-in navigation, a Wi-Fi hotspot, handwriting recognition for user inputs, and a 12.3-inch fully digital gauge cluster that Audi calls the virtual cockpit.

Safety and Driver-Assistance Features

The 2020 RS3 hasn't been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The compact sports sedan is also available with standard and optional driver-assistance technology. Key safety features include:

  • Available adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go technology
  • Available lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
  • Available automatic high-beam headlights

Warranty and Maintenance Coverage

Audi provides a competitive limited warranty, but below-average powertrain protection compared with luxury rivals.

  • Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
  • No complimentary scheduled maintenance


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