2018 Audi RS 3

#51
in Midsize sedans
2018 MODEL

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Detailed Review

Finally, the wait is over. Finally, the Audi fanboys can celebrate the arrival of the 2018 Audi RS 3 in the US. For a long time RS 3's sales were limited to overseas market, but now this fire-breathing version of Audi's stylish A3 is here to grace the roads and racetracks of Uncle Sam.

Starting at a price of $54,900, the 2018 Audi RS 3 doesn't bother with providing different trims to the buyer. Instead, the buyers have the option of choosing from the various optional packages available. RS 3 uses a 2.5-liter I-5 engine that produces a massive 400hp and 354 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine is mated to a 7 speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The drivetrain is Audi's Quattro AWD.


7.8/10
Features

 

6.5/10
Engine

 

6.5/10
Fuel Economy

 

7.6/10
Interior

 

9.5/10
Exterior

 
 
 
 

The RS 3 is Audi's reply to Mercedes' AMG CLA45 and BMW M2. Although RS 3 is closer to the Mercedes with its traverse engine layout and AWD, while BMW still relies on a RWD. And RS 3 is not just a power machine. From brakes, to design, to acceleration, the RS 3 is here to make its mark in every ground.

2018 Audi RS 3 Features

7.8/10

The 2018 Audi RS 3 is the high-performance variant of A3/S3. It only comes in one trim level powered by a 2.5-liter turbocharged 5-cylinder engine that produces a massive torque that will surely satiate the gearhead in you. The engine is paired to a 7-speed S Tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission. Audi’s Quattro AWD is standard.

Trims

RS 3
MSRP

$54,900

Standard Features

  • Heated and power-folding mirrors
  • Panoramic sunroof
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Keyless entry and ignition
  • Adaptive suspension dampers
  • Selectable drive modes
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Auto-dimming mirrors
  • Leather upholstery
  • Heated eight-way manual sport seats with power lumbar adjustment
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Rearview camera
  • 10-speaker audio system with HD and satellite radio

We Recommend

Since the 2018 Audi RS 3 comes in only one trim, the decision-making shifts to which additional package to choose. The most recommended is the Technology package which adds connectivity features and the much desired Audi’s Virtual Cockpit. The Dynamic package is also recommended as it further purifies RS 3’s performance and driving fun.

2018 Audi RS 3 Engine

6.5/10

"Launching the RS3, I was surprised to notice a bit of turbo-lag off the line -- odd given how well Audi's four-cylinder engines have eliminated this delay. However, the lag is gone after just a moment, replaced by a satisfying surge of power and acceleration." -CNET

Engine and Transmission

There is some turbo lag at lower speeds. It’s not much but really manifests itself in daily drives. But once the engine builds revs, it’s quickly forgotten. To get the best throttle response, drive in the dynamic mode. What impresses further is the engine’s 354 lb.-ft. of torque is available from 1,700 to 5,850 rpm, that’s really widespread. Although a manual transmission would have been nice, there is not much to criticize about the dual-clutch AT.

Models

Audi RS 3 BMW M2 Coupe Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA 45
MSRP $54,900 $54,500

$50,400

Engine

2.5-Liter TFSI 5 Cylinder engine 3.0-liter M TwinPower Turbo inline 6-cylinder engine Handcrafted AMG 2.0-Liter Inline-4 turbo engine
Transmission 7-speed automatic 6-speed manual

7-speed automatic

Power

400 hp 365 hp 375 hp
Torque 354 lb-ft 343 lb-ft

350 lb-ft

The RS 3 and BMW M2 lie in the same price range, while the Mercedes is about $4,000 cheaper. But the RS 3 justifies its price with superior power and torque. No one comes close to Audi’s 400hp mark, although the Mercedes AMG CLA45 does almost match Audi’s torque generation.

Acceleration

“To put these [RS3's Performance] numbers into perspective, the 465-hp Corvette Grand Sport takes 3.9 seconds to hit 60 mph and Audi’s own 540-hp R8 V10 will only match the RS 3’s acceleration” – Digital Trends

The 2018 Audi RS 3 is designed to provide a fun and exhilarating drive. Its amazing 400hp engine shoots to 60mph from a standstill in just 3.9 seconds, that’s as fast as a Corvette. If you opt for the dynamic package, you can fly your RS 3 to a speed of 174mph. There is about half a second of lag between flooring the pedal and the car moving, but after that, there’s no stopping the RS 3.

Models

Audi RS 3 BMW M2 Coupe Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA 45
0-60 MPH 3.9 sec 4.3  sec

4.1 sec

Quarter mile

12.1 sec @ 112.9 mph 12.7 sec @ 113 mph 12.7 sec @ 108 mph
Engine 2.5L 3.0L

2.0L

Emission (Tons/yr of CO2 Emissions @ 15K mi/year)

8.0 8.4

6.8

The BMW M2 and the Mercedes CLA45 can’t match the RS 3 in terms of engine power and acceleration. At the 60mph mark, the Audi is about 0.4 seconds faster than the M2, although the CLA45 is just a couple of milliseconds behind. At the quarter-mile mark, RS 3 is 0.5 seconds faster than both BMW and Mercedes. It is interesting, though, to see that the M2 reaching the quarter mile mark with a speed 0.1 mph faster than RS 3.

Handling and Steering

When you first start driving an Audi RS 3, you expect it to have a bit of an understeer since the weight bias in about 58% to the front. But the 2018 RS 3 is surprisingly precise. There is virtually no understeer and the steering wheel moves the car exactly where you want it to go.

There are 4 driving modes: Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, and Individual. Each mode changes the gearshift points, steering, throttle response, and damper control. It handles the corners well and provides good feedback to the driver.

Braking

The 2018 RS 3 uses standard ventilated front and rear disc brakes. Front carbon ceramic brakes are also available as part of the Dynamic Plus package. The ceramic brakes have a greater fade resistance, so if you plan to test your RS 3’s limits on the racetrack, it’s a good idea to upgrade your brakes.

Whether you stick with steel or you upgrade to ceramics, the brakes are capable and reassuringly stable. The RS 3 is a powerhouse that builds some serious speed in a matter of seconds, so it’s a good thing it has the brakes to tame its ripping engine.

Model Audi RS 3 BMW M2 Coupe Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA 45
Brake Front (in.) 14.6 15.0 13.8
Brake Rear (in.) 12.2 14.5 13.0
Curb Weight (lbs.) 3593 3505 3450
60-0 MPH (ft.) 109 106 109

The quickest to come to a stop is the BMW M2 with its massive 15 inches front and 14.5 inches rear brakes. The Audi and the Mercedes both took 109 feet to stop in the 60-0 mph panic stop test. The BMW was 3 feet shorter.

The Audi is the heaviest amongst the rivals, and that’s after losing a considerable amount of weight this year. Still, it is just as quick as coming to a stop as the CLA45, which is the lightest in this competition. Although the BMW emerged as a winner, all 3 cars performed well during the panic stop test.

2018 Audi RS 3 Fuel Economy

6.5/10

When we take the 2018 Audi RS 3’s engine power and performance into consideration, its combined fuel economy of 22mpg seems fairly reasonable. It does ask for premium fuel just like its less powerful counterparts A3 and S3, but for an output this amazing, the input has to be refined.

Model

Audi RS 3 BMW M2 Coupe Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA 45
MPG (City) 19 18

23

MPG (Highway)

28 26 30
MPG (Combined) 22 21

26

The BMW M2 has a better city mileage than RS 3, but doesn’t match its highway economy of 28mpg. The clear winner in the efficiency department is the Mercedes AMG CLA45 with its excellent stats of 23/30 mpg in city/hwy. To put these numbers into perspective, RS 3’s combined economy is less than CLA’s city or highway mileage.

2018 Audi RS 3 Interior

7.6/10

"The 2018 Audi RS 3 benefits from the general upgrade the entire A3/S3 lineup got a couple years ago. That means nice materials inside, Apple CarPlay, and an available Virtual Cockpit that swaps out physical gauges for a high-resolution screen with a 60-fps refresh rate for a stutter-free presentation."- Kelley Blue Book

Seating and Comfort

The 2018 Audi RS 3 uses Nappa leather seats with diamond stitching. The seats are 8-way manual adjusting with 4-way power lumbar support. You also get manual thigh extensions, which is a nice touch.

Model

Audi RS 3 BMW M2 Coupe Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA 45
Passenger capacity 5 4

5

Passenger Volume (ft3)

87.0 89.7 80.0
Front (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.) 36.5/54.8/41.2 40.1/54.4/41.5

38.2/56/40.2

Second (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)

36.1/53.0/35.1 36.5/53.4/33

35.6/53.2/27.1

The seats are 3 stage heated but with no ventilation. The front seats have firm cushions, but they are wide and roomy. The rear seats provide better space than the CLA or the QX30.

Interior Features

Here is a list of the standout features in the 2018 Audi RS 3’s cabin:

  • Selectable driving settings (known as Audi Drive Select)
  • Panoramic Moonroof
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Heated front seats
  • Driver-seat memory settings
  • Leather upholstery
  • Audi's MMI electronics interface

Optional features include:

  • 14 speaker Bang and Olufsen sound system
  • Virtual Cockpit

Infotainment

When you start the RS 3, a standard 7-inch screen pops up. The screen is non-touchscreen, so you have to use Audi’s MMI controller to scroll through the various options. It is a good idea, as using a touchscreen while driving would make you take your eyes off the road.

The 2018 Audi RS 3 comes standard with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. This is a huge bonus as many rivals don’t even have it as an optional upgrade. There is also the available MMI touch with handwriting-recognition technology which allows the driver to “write” their entry rather than selecting letters or numbers and more easily navigate maps by moving a finger across the touchpad.

Cargo

No one expects too much cargo storage from a sports-oriented compact car, and the 2018 Audi RS 3 falls exactly in that description. The trunk might be a bit small, but it has a wide opening and the rear seats fold down 40/20/40 to maximize storage area. Inside the cabin, there are many cubbies and illuminated cup-holders that provide sufficient storage.

Model

Audi RS 3 BMW M2 Coupe Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA 45
Volume (ft.3) 10.0 13.8

13.1

Although much room wasn’t expected, the RS 3 has a small trunk even in terms of compact cars. The Mercedes and BMW both provide more than 13 cubic feet of storage, with BMW having the largest trunk with 13.8 cubic feet of space.

2018 Audi RS 3 Exterior

9.5/10

Take one look at the RS3, from its large front air intakes to the massive tailpipes, and you know it’s ready to rock. -Caranddriver

Model

Audi RS 3 Premium Infiniti QX30 BMW X1 sdrive 28i Mercedes-Benz GLA 250
Curb weight (lbs) 3483 3280 3543

3296

Length(in)

172.8 174.2 175.4 173.9
Width(in) 72.1 82.0 71.7

71.0

Height(in)

62.5 58.9 62.9 60.0
Ground clearance(in) 6.7 6.8 6.9

6.6

Wheelbase(in)

102.5 106.3 105.1 106.3
Track width(in) F/R 61.1/61.2 61.9/61.9 61.5/61.5

61.8/61.4

The front wheels arches are wider than the rear, giving the car a beefier stance. In the rear, you get a standard lip spoiler that’s almost twice the size as that of the RS 3. There are two large and oval exhaust pipes that replace the round ones on the A3 and S3. The exhausts also hold another secret. They are equipped with flaps that cause the car to roar loudly with a tailor-made tone for the RS 3.

Exterior Features

Some of the exterior features include:

  • Automatic LED headlights with washers
  • Taillights with dynamic turn signals
  • Power-adjustable, heated, power folding, and auto-dimming side mirrors
  • Dual exhausts with flaps
  • 19-inch 5-arm-blade design wheels with performance tires

 

2018 Audi RS 3 Safety

IIHS and NHTSA haven't rated the 2018 Audi RS 3 but treats it as a sportier version of the A3.

Some of the standard safety features in the 2018 Audi RS 3 include:

  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Audi Pre-Sense
  • Rearview camera
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane departure warning and intervention

 

2018 Audi RS 3 Competition

BMW M2 Coupe vs Audi RS 3 

The Audi RS 3 and the BMW M2 are available for a similar price, but the price might be the only thing that these cars have in common. While the 2 door BMW’s 365hp generating I-6 engine is powerful, it falls short of RS 3’s 400hp generating I-5. The new RS 3 is definitely quicker and more powerful.

But the M2 does fight back a little. Being an RWD vehicle, it is definitely more fun to drive. The steering is sharper and has an engaging feedback. The Audi may be quicker in a straight line, but the M2 is more fun on a twisty road.

But Audi has several other advantages, too. Its cabin is more upscale and filled with standard and optional tech, most amazing of which is the Virtual Cockpit. So for the same price range, the RS 3 has a lot more to offer. Sure, the BMW feels a bit better at driving, but Audi’s sheer power, comfort, and advanced tech will more than make up for it.

Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA45 vs Audi RS 3 

These German rivals Mercedes and Audi have for a long time came up with fantastic vehicles aimed to outshine the other, although their approach towards a compact powerhouse is different. While Mercedes went all-out with power and extravagance, Audi aimed at a balancing power with comfort and practicality.

There is about a $7,000 difference in the price of RS 3 and AMG CLA45, granted there is also an 83hp difference! Mercedes also put a butterfly valve in the exhaust, so clearly they didn’t let the size of CLA45 be a factor while deciding the output. But a compact car can’t be all vroom-vroom. As impressive as Mercedes’ cabin is, Audi’s is just a tad better. RS 3’s transmission is also smoother and quieter. So if you want raw power, go for Mercedes. But if you don’t want to spend those extra thousands on a compact car, and also want a modest and everyday vehicle, Audi seems like a better buy.

2018 Audi RS 3 Final Verdict

The US market waited for a long time for the RS 3 to come to their country, and the RS 3 proved that it was every bit worth the wait. With massive power and acceleration married to luxurious style and comfort, the RS 3 completes every aspect that the A3 lacked.

Although the BMW M2 costs the same as the RS 3, and some would argue that M2’s RWD and precise handling make it more fun to drive, the Audi RS 3 maintains its edge with superb interior quality and tech features. The Mercedes AMG CLA45 costs a few thousand dollars less than the Audi, but in no way is Audi’s higher price unjustified.

Pros

Powerful 5 cylinder engine with potent acceleration

Fun to drive

Precise handling

Well-trimmed cabin

Cons

Small trunk

Tight backseat

Ride quality may be too tight for a casual driver

No manual transmission

What's New?

The 2018 Audi RS 3 is all-new this year

It is specifically designed for the US market

It offers a unique engine

Performance suspension and brakes amongst other tech


Features

vehicle bio

base price

$54900

bodystyle

4dr Sedan

passenger capacity

5

top speed

174 mph

drivetrain

AWD

engine type

displacement

151 cu. in.

horsepower

400 hp @ 5850 rpm

torque

354 lb.-ft. @ 1700 rpm

transmission

7-speed automatic

chassis

brake rotors (f/r)

12.2 in. ventilated disc brakes/14.6 in. ventilated disc brakes

dimensions

wheelbase

103.6 in.

length

176.3 in.

width

70.7 in.

height

55 in.

curb weight

3593 lbs.

ground clearance

6.7 in.

capacity

cargo volume

10 cu ft.

performance

zero to 60 mph

3.9 sec.

zero to 100 mph

8.7 sec.

rolling start (5-60 mph)

4.3 sec.

standing ¼-mile

11.9 sec.

braking (70-0 mph)

157 ft.

fuel economy

city/combined/highway

19/22/28 mpg

highway range

406 mi.

warranty

basic warranty

4 years/50000 miles

drivetrain warranty

4 years/50000 miles

corrosion warranty

12 years/unlimited

roadside assistance

No



Styles

 2018 Audi RS 3 in Mythos Black Metallic color  2018 Audi RS 3 in Nardo Gray color  2018 Audi RS 3 in Glacier White Metallic color  2018 Audi RS 3 in Florett Silver Metallic color  2018 Audi RS 3 in Ara Blue Crystal Effect color
Mythos Black Metallic

Vehicle images are guides only and may not reflect the model's exact specifications/features– exact specifications/features should be confirmed with the seller.

Ratings

Features

7.8

Engine

6.5

Fuel Economy

6.5

Interior

7.6

Exterior

9.5

Comfort

9.5

Driving

9.6

8.1

OVERALL RATING

Trims and Configurations

MSRP


 2018 Audi RS 3 Base quattro

Base quattro

power
400 hp @ 5850 rpm
fuel
Premium unleaded (required)
mpg
22 combined

$54,900


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
quattro 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 5cyl Turbo 7AM) Starting at $54,900 MSRP (19/22/28) 400 hp @ 5850 rpm, 2.5 L, I5, premium unleaded (required)
See Full Specs
7-speed automatic all wheel drive 5 NA

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