Audi RS3 Review 2024

Audi RS3 At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The third-generation Audi RS3 is the German marque’s top compact hatchback and saloon, with sporty styling and supercar-baiting performance.

+Astounding performance and a sonorous engine soundtrack. Surefooted quattro traction. Excellent handling. Tech-laden interior.

-Currently unavailable to buy new. Fuel consumption is high even when driven carefully. Less practical than a regular Audi A3.

Insurance Group 37

The Audi RS3 is the flagship model in the Audi A3 range, thanks to bespoke styling, quattro all-wheel drive and a characterful 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine. Blending massive performance with the ability to be used every day is no mean feat, but the Audi RS3 does just that. It has rivals in the Mercedes-AMG A45 and cheaper Volkswagen Golf R.

Central to the appeal of the Audi RS3 is its 2.5 TFSI petrol engine. Tracing its lineage back to the Audi Quattro of the 1980s, and featuring in a host of high-performance models since, describing this engine as ‘legendary’ is no understatement. It helps make this one of the best hot hatches around.

In the Audi RS3, it produces 400PS, along with 500Nm of torque. The result is the potential to accelerate from 0-62mph in just 3.8 seconds, and reach a top speed of 155mph. Alternatively, opting for the top-spec Audi RS3 Vorsprung sees this increased to a heady 180mph.

A quattro all-wheel-drive system ensures the Audi RS3 can deliver its power whatever the weather, with a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission fitted as standard.

Previous versions of the Audi RS3 were often criticised for feeling remote and uninvolving to drive. Audi was said to have focussed on straight line speed, at the expense of driver engagement. Fortunately, the third-generation much improved the level of involvement, even adding a rowdy RS Torque Rear ‘drift mode’ for on-track antics.

The Audi RS3 still lacks steering that bursts with feedback, but it manages to feel much more alive when driven for fun. This has not come at the expense of ride quality, however, with versions fitted with adaptive suspension feeling particularly compliant.

When it comes to its interior, the Audi RS3 is similar to the standard Audi A3. This means a modern-looking design, but with some materials that seem a little underwhelming. At least the leather-clad sports seats are supportive, plus there is a long list of standard equipment.

Picking the Audi RS3 does mean compromising practicality versus the regular Audi A3. To accommodate the quattro drivetrain, Audi has needed to reduce boot space by 100 litres. In the Audi RS3 Sportback, this means a luggage capacity of just 282 litres, with the Saloon boasting 321 litres.

Viewed logically, the Audi RS3 is a very expensive way to experience a compact hatchback or saloon. On paper, the cheaper Audi S3 makes more sense, but it lacks the epic 2.5 TFSI engine and the noise that comes with it.

Instead, the Audi RS3 delivers performance that would worry supercar owners on a track day, but can still collect the kids from school on the way home.

The fact that Audi has seen demand for the Audi RS3 outstrip supply is indicative of how good this car is. Sadly, it also means having to consider a used model, or waiting to see when Audi starts accepting orders again. In the meantime, your key decision will be whether you prefer the four-door Saloon or five-door Sportback.

Cars with an engine like the iconic 2.5 TFSI found in the Audi RS3 will not be around for much longer. This is a proper performance machine, but one that can be bought with the head and the heart.

What does a Audi RS3 cost?