The Audi RS3 is one of the most fun to drive small sedans you can get and for the 2022 model year we get an all-new one. The new RS3 is longer and wider than before, with more aggressive styling and a nice 401 horsepower under the hood to get you where you’re going, fast.
Just like before, the RS3 is based on the A3 and S3 models, but it gets several upgrades to give it more than you get with the sporty S3. The RS3 rides almost an inch lower than the base A3 and the front track is 1.3-inches wider than the previous RS3. The styling is understated, just like before, but at the front the large black grille, aggressive air intakes and darkened headlights let you know how special the RS3 is. At the rear there’s a small lip spoiler and an updated bumper with gloss black trim and a black diffuser in between the dual oval exhaust tips.
Now for what’s under the hood. The RS3 is powered by a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline 5-cylinder engine that generates 401 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, which is an increase of 7 horsepower and 15 lb-ft. You might notice that the version sold in North America has more power than our European friends get. The RS3 sends all that power to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and Quattro all-wheel drive. You’ll also notice that the RS3 we get is louder than the one in Europe, since we get it without the particulate filter. There is a bit of turbo lag in the lower rev range, but once you get it going, the RS3 comes alive.
With that much power on tap, the RS3 can accelerate from 0-60 mph in a quick 3.6 seconds, 0.3 seconds faster than before. But the RS3 isn’t just about speed, the Quattro all-wheel drive system gets a new RS Torque Rear Splitter rear differential that provides more command over the front/ rear torque percentages and it also adds lateral torque-vectoring capabilities. The RS Torque Splitter uses two multi-disc clutches to send up to 100 percent of the available torque to either rear wheel, making it a blast around corners.
There are six different driving modes, which alter the amount of power that goes to the front and rear wheels. In Comfort mode, the system sends most of the power to the front wheels. The Auto mode finds a balance between the front/ rear torque distribution, while Dynamic mode sends most of the power to the rear wheels. There are also the RS drive modes: RS Torque Rear and RS Performance. The RS Torque Rear mode allows for more controlled drifts, while the RS Performance mode is designed for the track to minimize understeer and oversteer. If you want more control over the different settings, RS Individual mode is a customized setting that lets the driver set their own mix of settings for the powertrain, suspension, steering and exhaust tone.
The RS3 gets a new RS Sport adaptive suspension. The big change are the new hydraulically adjustable dampers that replace the previous magnetic units on the last generation RS3. According to Audi, the Dynamic Chassis Control system (DCC) can provide automatic or individual adjustments to the suspension. The softest setting in the Comfort mode still has a pretty firm feel, but it’s an improvement over the previous RS3. The suspension gets firmer based on which drive mode you’re in, like Dynamic mode. That firm suspension makes the RS3 a blast around corners with very little body roll. It’s suspension just begs for more, but we do wish there was a bit more feedback from the steering.
Throw it fast into a corner and the RS3 responds with ease, while you’re greeted with nice burbles from the exhaust as you press the pedal to the floor. Stopping power is provided by larger front brakes with 20 percent better cooling. At the front there are 6-piston calipers, while the rear brakes get a single-piston caliper. Ceramic brakes are an option, which reduce the overall weight of the RS3 by 22 pounds and are more resistant to brake fade.
The pricing for the 2022 Audi RS3 starts at $59,995, including destination. The RS3 comes standard with a 12.3-inch digital cluster, 8-way power front sport seats, nappa leather, panoramic sunroof, a 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen with wireless Android Auto/ Apple CarPlay. Given all those standard features, the 401-hp engine and upgraded suspension, the RS3 represents a great value.
If you’re looking for a small, fun to drive, non-electric sedan, the 2022 Audi RS3 should be on your list. This much fun can’t be ignored.
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