The new Audi RS3 is actually faster than most supercars from the 2000s

0-60 in 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 180 mph

We can complain about downsizing and EVs and interior and technology and ADAS all we want but there's no getting away from the fact that cars are getting faster. When I was a kid we used to play trump cards and compare car performance figures. Any car with a top speed in excess of 124 mph would be considered fast and vehicles that were able to reach 186 mph were considered other-worldly at the time. Now, I say 'at the time' because it feels like it's been a while but in truth, I'm only talking about 15-odd years ago.

These days, even the most basic hatchback can accelerate to 60 in less than 10 seconds and the vast majority of vehicles on the road can get to 124 mph or close. Meanwhile, we've got the Bugatti Bolide, which does 500 kph (310+ mph), and the Lotus Evija, which does 0 to 186 in 9 seconds. And crucially, you can visit your local Audi showroom, right now, and order a 2022 RS3, with a top speed of 180 mph and a 0-60 time of 3.8 seconds. In a hot hatch.

In the best tradition of downsizing (gah), the RS3 is powered by a minuscule 2.5.-litre 5-cylinder engine, which produces 400 hp and 368 lb-ft. Even Jeremy 'I'm-Now-A-Farmer' Clarkson would call that 'adequate. The problem with that amount of power and torque in a hot hatch is you need sensational engineering skills to actually turn that into performance, especially in the corners. Fortunately, Audi has given the RS3 an all-new torque splitter, which utilises two electro-hydraulic multi-plate clutches.

Now, I have the mechanical engineering abilities of a macaque but I went on the internet and found out how it works. You accelerate, you get to a corner and the car automatically sends more (or less) torque to the rear wheel that needs it the most so that the car does not oversteer or understeer.

In pure Teutonic fashion, the car is actually limited to 155 mph but Audi will charge you more, upon request, to remove the limiter so you can move to Germany and hit 180 mph on the Autobahn. Fortunately, the Dynamic RS package also includes carbon-ceramic brakes, which will help you slow down in time to stop before the next Ausfahrt. Don't laugh, that's just German for [motorway] exit.

Audi hasn't said anything about pricing [yet] and since we're talking about supercar level performance, I reckon it's not gonna be cheap.

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Comments (15)

  • Yes, cars are becoming too fast. No, leave your pitchforks alone- let me explain.

    In modern traffic, you hardly have the opportunity to drive your car at its top speed. In most countries, we have a maximum speed of somewhere between 100 and 130 km/h, but during your commute you'd be happy if you could even go that fast. By my knowledge, only on some Autobahns (maybe about half or so) in Germany and on the Isle of Man maximum speeds don't apply.

    Meanwhile, cars are getting faster and faster. We do need to pay for the development of all the safety systems necessary for those speeds. We pay for development of the engines and drivetrains capable of this performance. We pay for development of tires capable of handling those forces. I would be more than happy to drive a beautiful, fun, well-handling, sporty car that stops accelerating at 180 km/h or so if that meant it was more affordable. I don't care about top speed, as it is a useless and mostly theoretical figure.

      1 month ago
  • Well considering an E63 Wagon and V60 Polestar can outrun a 458 Italian and a 570s it's not surprising for any German car at this point. My dad fire d owns a C63 Edition 1 and we went for a ride in it. Pulled a 11.7 Quarter Mile and 0-60 in 3.2 seconds while being stock. Supercars are personally overrated.

      1 month ago
  • Is it possible to rally that thing?

      1 month ago
  • Impressive but I bet it isn't half as fun as an old Suzuki swift sport.

      1 month ago
  • I love speed. I love driving fast. But in today’s world we are watched persistently by cctv, speed cameras etc etc.

    There’s no practical use for anything over 120mph unless you go to Germany or go on a track.

    I’d rather a car did 120 and got there in 6 seconds

      1 month ago
    • true. It's not about top speed or 0-60, it's about 0-124 and 60-124 (and excellent brakes), which is what makes the difference in the real world

        1 month ago