Review: Audi RS3 (2015)
Subtle styling. Wonderful 2.5-litre engine. Smooth and intelligent gear changes from seven-speed S tronic gearbox. Upgraded to 400PS from summer 2017.
Not cheap at £40k. Optional extras significantly increase the price. Steering could be better.
Audi RS3 (2015): At A Glance
- New prices start from £50,285, brokers can source from £47,264
- Contract hire deals from £564.68 per month
- Insurance Groups are between 40–46
- On average it achieves 65% of the official MPG figure
With no less than 400PS, 480Nm of torque, a wonderful five-cylinder soundtrack and incredible levels of traction thanks to its quattro all-wheel drive system, the Audi RS3 is a seriously impressive performance car. But for the price, it ought to be.
Updated from mid-2017, the RS3 is available as both a five-door Sportback and four-door saloon, with power and torque up over the earlier car. Both the Sportback and saloon have the same 2.5-litre engine and S tronic transmission, take the same 4.1 seconds to get from 0-62mph and have the same limited 155mph top speed.
On the road, the five-cylinder engine has a broad spread of torque and power, while the quattro all-wheel drive system provides huge traction even on a wet, greasy road – so it’s very easy to cover ground quickly. In some previous RS models that superb capability meant the driving experience lacked flair and excitement – but that’s not the case here.
In fact, it’s huge fun, whatever the weather - only slightly numb steering lets the driving experience down a little. But when you're not in the mood for high performance antics, the RS3 is just as easy to live with as a normal A3, thanks to impressive refinement and a smooth S tronic automatic transmission. It even works in town, thanks to its small size.
It’s as practical as any other A3 (or A3 saloon) too, plus it’s as well-made and as plush as you would expect of an Audi, with high quality materials and excellent fit and finish. It’s available with plenty of up-to-date tech too, including full LED headlights and Audi Virtual Cockpit as standard, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
If you’re not too bothered about plush interior plastics or winning in a game of peak power Top Trumps, the Ford Focus RS provides similar all-wheel drive fun and excellent performance for significantly less money - albeit with 'just' 300PS. But that glorious five-cylinder engine and typical Audi premium feel mean the RS3 holds plenty of appeal. If you have the money.
What does a Audi RS3 (2015) cost?
Audi RS3 (2015): What's It Like Inside?
Inside, the RS3 is obviously very similar to the A3 – but there are lots of features to set it apart and make it feel more special, including sumptuously finished and supportive leather sports seats. Audi Virtual Cockpit with it’s clear, full-colour TFT instrument cluster is standard too.
There’s also a flat-bottomed steering wheel covered in part-leather and part-Alcantara and alloy pedals to finish the sporty look. Navigation is standard, as is Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, plus Bluetooth and a 10-speaker Audi Sound System.
From 2017 both five-door Sportback and four-door saloon body styles are available. The Sportback is the more practical choice, with a hatchback boot and up to 1220 litres of storage with the seats folded down, versus 880 litres for the saloon. Both cars have reasonable rear head and leg room, though taller passengers will struggle a little – especially in the saloon.
Equipment levels are very good, which you’d expect given the price – but there are still lots of optional extras. They include numerous high-quality exterior paint finishes, plus the option of your own custom colour, along with a selection of interior upholstery options and inlay materials, plus six different 19-inch alloy wheel designs.
There are two technology packs too, with the Driver Assistance Pack adding adaptive cruise control, traffic jam assistance, active lane assist, high-beam assist and traffic sign recognition. The Comfort and Sound pack adds an improved audio system, reversing camera and a keyless entry and start system.
RS 3 includes 19-inch alloy wheels, RS Sport suspension, RS exhaust system, Audi Drive Select, LED headlights, RS exterior styling, front sports seats in Nappa Leather, split-fold rear bench, dual-zone climate control, stainless steel pedals, aluminium interior details, Audi Virtual Cockpit, MMI Navigation Plus, 10GB Jukebox for music storage, DVD drive, 2x USB in, 2x SDXC card readers, aux-in, Audi Connect, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, cruise control and parking sensors.
Child seats that fit a Audi RS3 (2015)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Audi RS3 (2015) like to drive?
- Engines range from 2.5 TFSI 367 S tronic Sportback to 2.5 TFSI 400 S tronic Sportback
- Readers report Real MPG to be between 22–32 mpg
Initially the RS3 had 367PS and 465Nm of torque, but from 2017 these numbers were turned up to 400PS and 480Nm – plus a saloon body style was added. Top speed is limited to 155mph, but if you have a very long private road or local Autobahn you might want it derestricted to 174mph – at additional cost, of course.
Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 4.1 seconds and if you want to achieve that every time you pull away, there is a launch control system. The transmission is a seven-speed S tronic and it’s very good, providing smooth shifts when driving gently and changing down quickly when you want to pick up speed. You can also override it and use the manual paddles on the wheel.
And, since this is an RS model, there’s quattro all-wheel drive. It’s a permanent system that automatically adapts to the situation, sending drive to the wheels that can make best use of it. In the 'Dynamic' drive mode, more power is sent to the rear wheels, giving the car great balance in bends while keeping things secure and predictable.
The result is a car that feels capable even in seriously bad weather. Grip is immense over poor surfaces and greasy or soaking wet roads. There's barely any roll when cornering - the car simply goes where you point it. The only minor let down to the driving experience is the slightly numb-feeling steering, which could do with more weight and feedback.
There are no complaints about the engine though. The 2.5-litre five-cylinder sounds fantastic and has a broad torque and power spread, so it accelerates ferociously regardless of the selected gear - and the gearbox itself will promptly change down if you really need to go for it. Sadly the great performance and sound is at odds with economy, which is officially 33.6mpg and considerably less than 30mpg in reality.
There are Comfort, Automatic, Dynamic and Individual driving modes to choose from, which alter throttle and transmission response, steering weight and the quattro system. They also change the suspension stiffness if you pick the optional adaptive dampers – and with Individual mode you can set things up just how you like them.
You won’t want to drive speedily on B-roads all the time, of course – but pleasingly the RS3 settles down into a comfortable and relaxed motorway cruiser, while its compact size means it works in town. It’s quite understated, too – so shouldn’t attract too much unwanted attention.
|2.5 TFSI 367 S tronic Sportback||35 mpg||4.3 s||189 g/km|
|2.5 TFSI 400 S tronic Saloon||33–34 mpg||4.1 s||188–194 g/km|
|2.5 TFSI 400 S tronic Sportback||34–53 mpg||4.1 s||189–195 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Audi RS3 (2015)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
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