2023 Audi RS3 Sportback new car test

Top-of-the-line hot hatches now produce the kind of acceleration you would expect from a supercar. The only problem is that you could pay six figures for the privilege.

Here are five things to know about Audi’s new RS3 hatch and sedan.

The changes are subtle

At first glance, the new RS3 looks very similar to the previous model, but there are subtle changes that improve looks and enhance the driving experience. The new car’s front tires are further apart and wider than the rear tires, delivering more front-end bite when cornering. A new torque vectoring rear differential also helps make the car more agile by shifting cornering power transfer to the outer wheels to tuck in the nose. There’s even a drift mode where you can wag your tail, although this feature is best left for tracking days and skids.

The numbers are amazing

The RS3’s turbocharged five-cylinder and seven-speed dual-clutch auto are essentially carried over, although the engineers have managed to squeeze a further 20Nm of torque from the 2.5-litre, bringing the figures to 294kW and 500Nm. That’s less power than its closest rival, the Mercedes-Benz AMG A45 S, but the Audi takes the drag-strip bragging rights and completes the blast to 100 km/h in just 3.8 seconds, a tenth faster than the Benz . The Audi is also a few thousand dollars cheaper, although at around $103,000 per car it’s roughly $8,000 more expensive than its predecessor.

But they don’t tell the whole story

What the numbers don’t tell you is that this is one of the cutest and most loveable engines ever built, with an amazing soundtrack, mind-blowing low-down grunt and unrelenting thrust throughout the midrange. The previous model had lost some of its bark due to emissions regulations, but in RS mode a new variable exhaust cranks up the volume, with all the accompanying crackles and pops you’d expect from a high-performance car. The official fuel consumption of 8.2 l/100km is remarkable on paper but unattainable in the real world. If you drive it the way you want it, you’ll see double-digit numbers pretty quickly.

It’s relatively easy to live with

Hard-edged, high-performance cars can be a chore on the daily commute, especially when months of persistent rain have turned suburban rat runs into potholed ordeal tests, but the RS3 does better than most at protecting its occupants from bumps and lumps. The dual-clutch car can grumble and hesitate when it comes to quickly shifting into a suitable gear, but most of the time the RS3 is easy to drive around town. Those with sensitive ears might find the tire roar on rough surfaces less than ideal, but that’s the compromise for all the grip and balance at speed.

The cabin ambiance is top notch

Audi has long been at the high end of interior design and the new RS3 is no different, offering a tasteful blend of sportiness and opulence. Heavily padded sports seats, wrapped in soft, high-quality nappa leather, offer you secure support when cornering, while the razor-sharp digital driver’s display can be configured to suit individual tastes. A head-up display has been added, while audiophiles will love the 15-speaker Bang and Olufsen stereo system. Rear knee room is a little cramped and the hatch’s cargo space is stingy at just 282 liters. For an additional $2500, you can opt for the larger trunk sedan.

Originally posted as 2023 Audi RS3 Sportback New Car Review

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *