The 2023 Audi RS 3 is a four-season efficiency automobile hero, however you in all probability already knew that. However, automobiles just like the RS 3 should be treasured. Audi has made it fairly clear that the trail ahead is electrical, which is a troublesome tablet to swallow after firing up the turbocharged five-cylinder of this good sedan.
You actually do purchase the RS 3 for its engine, too. In a world the place each efficiency automobile is fast sufficient to pin you to the seat, it’s the distinctive, ripping, chainsaw yowl coming from the boosted 2.5-liter that units the RS 3 aside. There’s no mistaking it for a V- or inline-six, nor will you presume a four-cylinder is underneath the hood. Its rhythmic thumping up and down the rev vary performs a noise all its personal, and it’s certain to maintain you entertained for so long as you drive it — the 401 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque don’t damage both. No electrical soundtrack pumped by means of audio system will be capable to replicate the entire expertise of this engine, not less than not with in the present day’s expertise.
In fact, this lovely racket the RS 3 is making isn’t for nothing. Audi guarantees a 3.6-second 0-60 mph time utilizing its shockingly aggressive launch management begin. The little sedan received’t stop till you attain 180 mph, assuming you spec the $5,500 carbon ceramic brake choice. These numbers are stupendous, however going rapidly in a straight line has by no means been a weak level of the RS 3’s. Dealing with hasn’t been an issue in previous generations, both, however its all-wheel-drive setup at all times shone brighter in poor climate than on dry pavement. The brand new Golf R confronted an analogous conundrum, however identical to its MQB platform mate, the 2023 RS 3 has a trick up its sleeve to make it rather more enjoyable to drive regardless of the circumstances.
We’re speaking a couple of new torque-vectoring rear differential that Audi calls the “RS Torque Splitter” (VW calls it R-Efficiency Torque Vectoring). As a lot as 50% of the engine’s torque will be despatched rearward, however then the brand new differential can distribute as much as 100% of mentioned torque to both rear wheel. This enables for the distinctive “RS Torque Rear” drive mode, which is actually designed to facilitate drifting (VW is much less coy and simply calls it “Drift mode”). As we rapidly discovered within the snowy week of our mortgage, it’s hardly mandatory, but it surely certain does make it extra enjoyable. Loads of RWD or AWD autos will throw the tail out within the snow, however few make the expertise as approachable because the RS 3. The soundness management modes are seemingly tuned with lovers in thoughts, permitting for the slip angle you need with out chopping in prematurely. Simply unwind the wheel everytime you need, and the RS3 will rocket ahead and out of a slide. It’s virtually too simple. If you happen to’re in search of a one-car resolution that may be a spicy meatball regardless of the climate, the RS 3 is an ideal match.
The RS 3’s rear-happy vibes can proceed on dry pavement, the place you possibly can set the automobile as much as be both impartial or a bit of mischievous based mostly on the mode setting. You will be slung by means of a nook with out under- or oversteer, or you possibly can maintain it in Dynamic mode to get the little tail-wag one would possibly count on from a rear-drive automobile. Irrespective of the setting, the RS 3’s suspension reveals a bit of give and roll as you bend forwards and backwards. Audi makes use of its Dynamic Chassis Management (DCC) dampers to supply steady and particular person adjustment of every damper based mostly on highway circumstances and mode choice. It’s not racetrack-stiff in any setting, which is customary for Audi, however that additionally makes it a bit of extra forgiving on poor highway surfaces. In contrast to many high-performance automobiles, although, the RS 3 is one you possibly can run in its most aggressive settings on the road and it nonetheless be solely acceptable.
The place the RS 3 may use some additional enchancment is its steering really feel and weighting. There’s a disconnect between what’s happening on the entrance wheels and what will get transmitted again to the driving force’s palms, and it’s largely the results of a basic numbness to the rack. The steering effort itself is weighty sufficient, however its tuning in corners as you construct up Gs has little correspondence to the remaining grip of its screaming tires, resulting in that numb disconnectedness. It was a bit of disappointing, as we thought Audi steering might have began to show a nook with the extra feel-some RS 6 Avant. Now, there’s a caveat and potential clarification to the above: our take a look at automobile was fitted with winter rubber (235-section-width on all 4 corners). Maybe the staggered summer season tires — wider in entrance than in rear — that come normal may rework its steering right into a extra pure expertise. We’ll report again as soon as we’ve had an opportunity to drive it out in California on the usual rubber.
Regardless of the high-performance slant, the RS 3 will get full factors for being daily-driver-friendly. Its journey is a bit more flinty than what you’ll expertise in an A3 or S3, however at no level does it develop into uncomfortable. The seven-speed dual-clutch automated that rips off super-quick shifts in Dynamic mode is easy and cossetting when left to its personal units. Plus, you possibly can even tone the exhaust noise down if you happen to’d somewhat simply waft alongside in typical Audi quietness on the freeway. That mentioned, hardly a second was spent with the valved sport exhaust system in any mode exterior of the loudest setting. This automobile sounds too good to drive round in every other style.
The place Audi may’ve amped up the drama is the cabin. Having pushed an S3 shortly earlier than hopping into the RS 3, there isn’t a lot to separate the 2. You’ll be able to step into the choices portal and bathe the inside in some wild Micromatta Inexperienced accents to degree up the sportiness, however the delicate RS badging sprinkled about as normal doesn’t do quite a bit to make this inside really feel premium or particular. A lot of the issue lies in Audi’s new route for the usual A3 inside, too. Whereas it could have gone full Blade Runner with sharp angles throughout, the supplies high quality is notably down, a pattern that originated with the current-generation A4 and Q5. The A3 household is lastly catching up. On the very least, most of the vitals for a efficiency automobile are current, comparable to nicely-bolstered seats, simply learn customizable gauges, a correctly sporty steering wheel and handy “RS” mode shortcut buttons to rapidly swap between preset customized modes.
Its underwhelming inside is amplified when you think about the eye-catching exterior styling Audi afforded the RS 3 — this little sedan actually seems to be the half. The flared wheel arches, pixel lights that animate with “RS 3” or a checkered flag, attractive wheels and customary RS oval suggestions all mix to offer this sedan a handsome-yet-menacing look. Audi’s colour palette is excellent, too, with choices like Kyalami Inexperienced, Turbo Blue, Python Yellow and Purple Tango Metallic. It’s mainly a bag of Skittles. In fact, we’re fairly certain most individuals will go for one thing much less vibrant such because the Kemora Grey of our tester. It’s cool in a stealthy form of approach, but it surely wouldn’t be our first alternative for an RS 3.
At $61,995 to begin, RS 3 pricing aligns with its German and American counterparts, the Mercedes-AMG CLA 45, and Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing. The rear-wheel-drive Blackwing received’t be an all-year sport sedan, but it surely certain is extra enjoyable to drive than something at this worth level. The CLA 45 presents comparable torque-vectoring tech to make it drive much less like its front-drive-based roots would recommend, however Audi’s five-cylinder promoting level is troublesome to argue with. It’s an costly proposition at $67,090 as examined, however the RS 3 is really an all-weather, on a regular basis weapon that can go away you with a smile in your face regardless of if the highway forward is a snow-covered car parking zone or a winding canyon highway.