In the 1980s, Audi gave its angular Coupé a turbocharged five-engine, four-wheel drive and box fenders, making it the legendary Quattro that became the brand’s standard performance carrier. And almost 40 years later, the same basic formula will make the company’s entry-level sedan the breathtaking 2022 Audi RS3.
Like the original Quattro and previous generation RS3, there is a turbocharged five-cylinder under the hood. The new variant also shows Quattro four-wheel drive with torque vectors, and it will be available in some markets such as both a five-door hatch (Audi says “Sportback”) and a four-door sedan. That said, only the sedan is coming to the US market, although Audi stopped denying that it was considering bringing the hatchback over, perhaps due to the cult-like desire for the RS6 Avant station wagon. Regardless, the entire RS3 family promises to be more dynamic than ever.
Both RS3 variants get aggressive new designs. The grille and the shiny, black round dominate the front end, with air intakes in the bumper corners that provide extra cooling capacity – all trimmed in an RS3-specific hexagonal net. An LED lantern signature with checkered flag motifs does some choreography as you approach or leave the vehicle, and spell out the RS3 in the matrix. The front screens have slit-shaped openings right in front of the door closure, and box-style flare above the wheels provides a small visual link to the original Audi Quattro.
More aggressive side skirts, a ventilated rear bumper with the same hexagonal mesh as the front bumper, and a subtle roof spoiler on the hatch or a covered spoiler on the sedan round out the other aerodynamic changes. The kinky LED taillights have their own lock and unlock animation, and the Audi RS – signature dual oval exhaust sockets are displayed on each side of a glossy black diffuser at the rear. Finally, the RS3 gets an available darkened roof panel for a little extra evil.
Those who want a little more subtlety in the sports sedan, can choose an Alu-Optic trim package that highlights the front splitter, the rear diffuser, bumpers and the side skirts with matt silver cladding. Meanwhile, an available carbon fiber trim package for the same exterior pieces does the opposite, drawing attention to the RS3’s fast exterior.
The 2022 Audi RS3’s Lamborghini-like interior features a standard 12.3-inch Audi Virtual Cockpit gauge cluster and a 10.1-inch infotainment screen that drives the MIB3, making the compact much easier to interact with. Sporty upgrades include an available head-up display, standard carbon fiber cladding and “RS Runway” or bar chart modes for the tachometer (making it easier to perform shifts that are properly timed without looking directly at the measuring cluster). RS-signature quilting with a honeycomb chair is available with red, black or green contrast stitching, and an interior design package gives even more red or green accents to the seat corners, dashboard and door panels.
Show and go
Audi claims the class’ best acceleration from the 2022 RS3, thanks in part to the 2.5-liter in-five that is turbocharged within an inch of the life. The global model will produce 394 horsepower (294 kilowatts) and 500 newton meters (369 pounds-feet), but in a strange event, the American model will actually get more power than its siblings on the continent. With 401 hp in print, the American RS3 is only 7 ponies above the Euro version (and the old RS3), but it’s still a pleasant surprise. These 369 torques are also up 15 above the outgoing compact sports sedan.
RS3 also sounds good. We are not surprised, considering how radiant the old model sang, but it’s still nice to hear that a pale five-cylinder is whipped on a track – especially when accompanied by a fast-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. This transmission sends power to all four wheels via Quattro four-wheel drive with a new-for-’22 RS Torque Splitter, which replaces the rear differential to divert up to 100 percent of the torque to each wheel as needed, and counteracts understeer by driving external wheels in corners.
It’s not the only trick up his sleeve on this platform. It is a unique driving mode, RS Torque Rear, which sends as much power as possible to the rear wheels, allowing smooth driving (obviously on a closed course). Meanwhile, the new RS Performance mode balances the power distribution more responsibly, and Audi claims that it almost eliminates understeer and understeer for really fast driving.
2022 The Audi RS3 gets a standard sports suspension with shock absorbers and specific valves for the vehicle, which improves the response and prevents performance degradation. However, an adaptive suspension is available, with active dampers that are continuously adjusted based on road conditions, driver requirements and driving mode settings. In both cases, the RS3 has more camber than before, a technical choice that improves grip in the corners (but can sacrifice some tire wear).
Other changes compared to standard A3 and outgoing RS3 are stiffer bearings, subframes and stabilizers for the front double hoop spring. Stiffer rear wheel holders help absorb some of the lateral forces exerted by the RS Torque Splitter, and the variable ratio steering varies response based on current conditions. Finally, the RS3 is 25 mm lower than the ground compared to the A3, keeping the center of gravity low to improve the transition responses.
Further improving the control is a set of standard steel brakes with six-piston in front of calipers. However, Audi would like to install a set of ceramic front brakes and steel brakes that are larger than standard counterparts, which improves heat resistance and reduces the rotational mass of the front rotors.
The sum of all this technology is a sprint to 100 kilometers per hour in just 3.8 seconds, which Audi says is best in class – Mercedes-AMG claims 4.1 seconds over the same distance for the CLA 45 and 4.0 seconds for the CLA 45 S. Audi can also boast that an RS3 will hit 155 km / h (250 km / h) in standard form or 174 km / h (280 km / h) with an optional performance package. And if you choose these ceramic front brakes, the RS3 can hit a staggering 290 km / h, making it the fastest vehicle in its class.
Goes once, goes twice, sold!
The 2022 Audi RS3 will be sold in Europe next month, with a starting price of 60,000 euros for the Sportback and 62,000 euros for the sedan – $ 70,832 and $ 73,193, converted to American dough. Of course, we only get sedans, and we are not subject to VAT either, so we assume that the new RS3 four-door starts at around $ 61,000 or so before the options. It should be a little more expensive than the 2020 RS3, which started at $ 57,195 before retiring, and the new sedan will obviously sit on top of the A3 family, which also includes the Audi S3 at $ 44,195.