Super Sedan: Testing Audi's RS badged answer to the M2
Testing the phenomenal Audi RS3
The 2019 Audi RS3 is a force to be reckoned with. It’s a 400 hp all-wheel drive sports sedan, capable of hitting 0-60 in 3.5 seconds. That was Supercar speeds 10 years ago. Now it’s possible to get that in a $65,000 Audi. Really, the RS3 is a perfect representation of how much faster cars have gotten lately.
Whether you like the RS3 or not there is no denying it’s an impressive car for the price. Don’t get me wrong, it’s by no means a cheap car. But it is cheap when you realize that its level of performance used to cost upwards of $200,000 not so long ago. Does that mean that by 2035 this kind of performance could cost only $35,000? Who knows? But for now, the best we’ve got is this. Or is it? For around the same price you could buy a BMW M2, or a Mercedes AMG CLA 45. Regardless, on paper, none of those stand a chance against the Audi. And since I couldn’t test the Bimmer or Benz, I’m going to have to trust the stats.
Audi has kept many of the technological features found on the RS3’s little brother the A3, such as the virtual cockpit. The virtual cockpit replaces the regular analog tachometer and speedometer with a convenient 12 inch screen. The screen allows you to switch between a regular Gauge cluster, a satellite google maps view of your current location, performance information, and much more. You can also make it so it shows both the regular gauges, and something else such as google maps, which is quite handy if you don’t want to have to look over at the pop up infotainment screen. Speaking of the infotainment screen, it’s a complicated mess. The worst part about it is the navigation system. By the time you learn how to use the navigation system, your dastination will have already closed.
Examining the car. Credit: me
Navigation system aside, there are some other helpful features on the infotainment system, but you have to be a computer geek to access most of them. The interior is full of plastic, and seems cheap for a $65,000 car. Quite frankly, it looks a it outdated. But let’s face it. The point of the RS3 isn’t to have the best infotainment system, or a beautiful interior. It’s about how it drives. So first off, let’s talk about speed.
The RS3’s top speed is 155 MPH, but Audi will raise the electronic limiter to 174 on demand. While it is phenomenally quick, the RS3 has loads of turbo lag. However, once the turbos kick in, the car takes off leaving some Ferraris in your tire smoke. When you’re cornering the Audi seems to be glued to the road. The Recaro seats are incredibly supportive and thus provide ample support against any lateral force. I did notice that at slower speeds the RS3 felt a little unexciting. Not to mention the transmition was a little jenky. However, it was not just the absurd speed, or the phenomenal cornering that was impressive about the little Audi. You can be gunning it onto an onramp at 60 miles per hour, slam your foot on the brake and stop in an instant. When you put your foot on the brake, the car feels planted, and you feel as if you are being comfortably pushed back into your seat thanks to the afformentioned Recaro seats. When the large, ceramic, Brembo brakes compress around perforated discs, the seatbelt hugs you into your seat and takes away any feel sometimes present in 4 door vehicles.
So everything about the Audi RS3 seams to be good. It’s wicked fast, corners phenomenally and stops in an instant. It does all that while still managing to fit two people in the backseat, and a couple bags of groceries in the trunk. It has its flaws, like its painfully bad infotainment, the transmition, and the plasticky interior, but that’s about it. It really is the perfect car if you want a small, sporty, automobile which can still be a daily driver. However, the back seat is so cramped, I couldn’t see taking anyone over the age of 10 in it, and the trunk is by no means large. So if you can’t really use the back seat, and only have limited trunk space, does the RS3 really have a practical edge over a coupe? If you want to be able to carry some passengers in a pinch, or fit one more small bag of groceries in the back, than yes it does. However, if you just want a german sportscar, but don’t need the few extra feet of space, why not get a Porsche Cayman for the same price?