In the 1980s, Audi outfitted its Angular Coupe with a turbocharged inline-five engine, all-wheel drive and square fender flares, transforming it into the legendary Quattro that became the flagship of the performance mark. And almost 40 years later, that same base formula will transform the company’s entry-level sedan into the fire-breathing 2022 Audi RS3.
Like the original Quattro and the previous generation RS3, there is a turbocharged five-cylinder under the hood. The new variant also boasts Quattro torque-vectoring all-wheel drive, and it will be available in some markets as both a five-door (Audi says “Sportback”) and four-door sedan. That said, only the sedan will hit the US market, although Audi has not denied that it plans to bring back the hatchback, possibly due to the cult appeal of the RS6 Avant station wagon. Either way, the whole RS3 family promises to be more dynamic than ever.
Both RS3 variants get aggressive new designs. The grille and its glossy black surround dominate the front, with air intakes in the corners of the bumper providing additional cooling capacity – all topped with an RS3-specific hexagonal mesh. A signature LED headlight with a checkered flag pattern does a little choreography as it approaches or exits the vehicle, spelling out RS3 in the matrix. The front fenders receive slot-shaped vents just in front of the door closing line, and box-style flares on the wheels add a little visual connection 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 tailgate or trunk lid spoiler on the sedan round out the other aero changes. Angled LED taillights have their own lock-and-unlock animation, and Audi RS-signature oval twin tailpipes appear on either side of a glossy black rear diffuser. Finally, the RS3 gets a blacked-out roof panel available for additional harm.
Those who want a little more subtlety in their sporty sedan can opt for an Alu-Optic trim set that accentuates the front splitter, rear diffuser, bumpers and side skirts with accents in matte silver. Meanwhile, a carbon fiber trim set available for the same exterior bits does the opposite, drawing attention to the RS3’s sleek exterior.
The Lamborghini-like interior of the Audi RS3 2022 features a standard 12.3-inch Audi Virtual Cockpit gauge cluster and a 10.1-inch infotainment screen running MIB3, making the compact much easier to interact with. Sporty upgrades include an available heads-up display, standard carbon fiber trim, and ‘RS Runway’ or bar graph modes for the tachometer (making it easier to perform properly timed gear changes without looking directly at the group of gauges). RS-signature honeycomb seat padding is available with contrasting red, black, or green stitching, and an interior design pack adds even more red or green accents to the corners of the seats, dashboard and trim. door panels.
Show and go
Audi claims best-in-class acceleration with the 2022 RS3, in part thanks to its 2.5-liter inline-five turbocharged one inch of its lifespan. The global model will produce 394 horsepower (294 kilowatts) and 369 pound-feet (500 newton-meters), but in a strange turn of events, the American model will actually produce more horsepower than its siblings on the continent. With 401 hp on the clock, the American RS3 only exceeds the Euro version (and the old RS3) by 7 ponies, but it’s still a nice surprise. Those 369 torques are also up 15 from the outgoing compact sports sedan.
The RS3 sounds great too. We’re not surprised, given how exuberant the old model’s vocals are, but it’s still nice to hear a rude five-cylinder being whipped on a track, especially when accompanied by a box. quick-change seven-speed dual-clutch gears. This transmission sends power to all four wheels via Quattro all-wheel drive with a new RS 22 coupler, which replaces the rear differential to divert up to 100 percent of torque to either wheel as needed, thwarting understeer by overdriving the outside wheel around corners.
That’s not the only trick up the sleeve of this front-wheel drive rig. There is a unique driving mode, RS Torque Rear, which sends as much power as possible to the rear wheels, allowing for frightening drifts (on a closed course, obviously). Meanwhile, the new RS Performance mode balances power distribution more sensibly, and Audi claims it almost erases oversteer and understeer for really fast driving.
The Audi RS3 2022 receives standard sports suspension with vehicle-specific dampers and valves, improving response and preventing degradation in performance. However, adaptive suspension is available, with active shock absorbers that continuously adjust to suit road conditions, driver demands, and ride mode settings. Either way, the RS3 has more camber than before, an engineered choice that improves cornering grip (but can sacrifice some tire wear).
Other changes from the standard A3 and outgoing RS3 are stiffer bearings, subframe and stabilizers for the double-wishbone front suspension. Stiffer rear wheel carriers help absorb some of the lateral forces exerted by the RS torque distributor, and the variable-ratio steering varies its response depending on current conditions. Finally, the RS3 is 1 inch (25 millimeters) lower from the ground than the A3, keeping the center of gravity low to improve transition responses.
A set of standard steel brakes with six-piston front calipers further enhance control. However, Audi will gladly accommodate a set of ceramic front brakes and steel rear brakes that are larger than their standard counterparts, improving heat resistance and, in the case of the front rotors, reducing rotating mass.
The sum total of all this technology is a sprint to 100 kilometers per hour (62 miles per hour) of just 3.8 seconds, which Audi says is best-in-class – Mercedes-AMG claims 4.1 seconds out of the same distance for the CLA 45 and 4.0 seconds for the CLA 45 S. Audi also boasts that an RS3 will hit 250 km / h (155 mph) as standard or 280 km / h (174 mph) with a performance package optional. And if you opt for those ceramic front brakes, the RS3 can hit a staggering 290 km / h, making it the fastest vehicle in its class.
Go once, go twice, sold out!
The 2022 Audi RS3 goes on sale 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 paste. Of course, we’ll only get the sedan, and we’re not subject to value-added tax either, so we’re assuming the new four-door RS3 will start at around $ 61,000 before options. It should be a bit more expensive than the 2020 RS3, which started at $ 57,195 before retirement, and the new sedan will obviously sit at the top of the A3 family, which also includes the $ 44,195 Audi S3.