There are 100 different ways to get to 100km/h in under 4 seconds but few are as exciting for $100,000 AUD as the 2022 Audi RS 3. One of the most important cars on the road today for its engine alone, the RS 3 carries the lineage of Audi 5-cylinders, a history that started in 1976 with the Audi 100 but was cemented with the Audi Quattro Sport S1. We jumped behind the wheel of the latest model at the Australian press launch of the Audi RS 3 in Adelaide and experienced the new car on the track, road, and as a passenger to really get a taste of what it’s all about.
2022 Audi RS 3 Overview
|2022 Audi RS 3 Specifications|
|Engine||Inline 5-cylinder turbo|
|Power||294kW @ 5600-7000rpm|
|Torque||500Nm @ 2250-5600rpm|
|Transmission||7-speed S tronic dual-clutch|
|Drive type||Quattro permanent AWD|
|Fuel consumption (combined)||8.3l/100km|
What Engine Does it Have?
The new Audi RS 3 features the same 2.5-litre TFSI 5-Cylinder engine from the previous generation car. A recipient of the ‘International Engine of the Year’ award 9 times in a row it’s as respected by engineers as it is gearheads for its aural experience. Boasting 294kw of power and 500Nm of torque (up 20Nm on the previous generation) it’s exhilarating, to say the least.
How Fast is it?
Just how fast is the new Audi RS 3? Well thanks to improvements in torque, power delivery, launch control, and wider tires, the car can accelerate from 0-100km/h in 3.8 seconds. The quoted number is three-tenths of a second faster than the previous generation car, but it feels miles quicker from the drivers seat.
How Much Does it Cost?
The Audi RS 3 Sportback is priced from $91,391 AUD before on-road costs, while the sedan costs $93,891 AUD before on-road costs. Our launch vehicles were fitted with a number of different options for us to experience and by ticking every option on the list you’ll max out a 2022 Audi RS 3 Sportback at $118,041 AUD before on-road costs.
The list of optional accessories is as follows;
- RS design package plus (only Red or Green) – $2150 AUD
- Carbon package limited – $5000 AUD
- RS dynamic package plus (red, blue, or grey callipers) – $13,000 AUD
- Matte aluminium styling package – $2000 AUD
- 19-inch Audi Sport wheels in black with graphics – $500 AUD
- Black roof – $700 AUD
- Black badges – $700 AUD
- Panoramic sunroof $2600 AUD
Paint colours are an NCO on the 2022 Audi RS 3 and include Turbo Blue, Kyalami Green, Glacier White, Kemora Grey, Mythos Black, Python Yellow, Tango Red, and Daytona Grey.
2022 Audi RS 3 Performance Test
Our first experience of the new Audi RS 3 came on track. After driving a few warm-up laps in the final of Audi Australia’s R8s we jumped behind the wheel of a Tango Red car to tackle a few laps of The Bend Motorsport Park.
First impressions of the muscular new car in the flesh were great. Attention is immediately drawn to the blown-up front wheel arches – they’re very aggressive – we check the sidewall and see the car is tucking massively wide 265/30 R19 tires. By the numbers, the front arches are 33mm wider than the previous generation and the rears are 10mm wider. If you threw a racing livery on the car it wouldn’t look out of place on a TCR Australia test day and it’s reflected in the driving experience on the track.
Thanks to these new arches the car is blessed with rear rotation (and lack of understeer) that we’ve never experienced from a street-going hatchback on track. You drive the car on its front wheels and the massive 375mm front brakes come into their own in setting the car up for turn-in. Position the car on the apex and get hard on the throttle to tell the Quattro All-wheel Drive System and new RS torque splitter you don’t want an ounce of understeer and it delivers.
How’s the lateral grip mid-corner? Lacking slightly due to tires if we’re honest – overseas markets receive Pirelli Trofeo tires as an option – so instead we focused on balance through the mid-corner and found the poise to be phenomenal. Choose to balance the car with the wheel or the throttle pedal and you’ll find it’s begging for aggressive inputs from both to let the electronics know what you want. Find the sweet spot and you’ll be rewarded with some great pivots and controlled rotation through the rear axle. Audi’s choice to go with an aggressive staggered setup that offers 19×9 front, 19×8 rear wheels and matching 265 front and 245 rear tires help with rear rotation.
After some fun on the track, we had the chance to experience the 2022 Audi RS 3 on some of the best driving roads in the Adelaide Hills. This was a chance to poke around the interior and experience the car as a daily driver. First and foremost, we were impressed by the car’s eagerness. The overall speed is immense and the quoted 3.8-second sprint to 100km/h seems understated.
Steering is very direct, weighted at will through the driving modes, and always feels connected to the front wheels. The driving position is effortlessly comfortable for daily use but it’s all hatchback and far different to its ‘coupe’ competitors so keep that in mind if you’re looking for a true ‘sports car’ feeling. Finally, the engine note is still just as special as ever (even if it’s held back a little due to emissions). Our only knock would be the road noise coming off the 265/30 R19 tires.
RS Torque Rear Mode
Now here’s the fun part. RS Torque split technology on the rear axle can send 50% of the 100% available power to a rear wheel, encouraging the car to add oversteer vs. understeer – e.g. in left-hand corners, the power is sent to the right rear wheel.
This also opens the opportunity for a ‘drift mode’ or RS Torque Rear Mode in the case here with the RS 3. While it’s far from a conventional ‘drift’ – we like to think of it more as a rally drift (S1 heritage in there somewhere) – the torque splitter does equal drifts (see video above) and it’s very fun on a skidpan.
2022 Audi RS 3 Interior
What’s the Infotainment System Like?
Driver infotainment starts with the 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster (Audi Virtual cockpit plus) that receives a custom RS ‘runway’ design as seen in the image above. The display itself is still the best in the game, massive props to Audi for their maps and the addition of g-forces, lap times, acceleration and quarter-mile times that would be gimmicky if they didn’t work so well.
We love the RS-specific blinking shift indicator in manual transmission mode that changes the rpm display from green to yellow to red as you climb the RPMs. This feature is integrated into the HUD and we’ll also note that the RS 3 will bounce off the rev-limiter in manual mode.
The central 10.1-inch centre touchscreen can be used to monitor important performance aspects such as the transmission oil temperature or tyre pressures and we love the way it’s integrated into the dashboard. Resolution is kept the same for both driver’s display and touchscreen. The 2022 Audi RS 3 has wireless Apple CarPlay as well as wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, both of which are full-screen.
What About the Trims and Touchpoints?
The RS 3 also shares its interior layout with the Audi A3 and S3 but adds sports seats, suede trims, and coloured stitching as an option. At first glance it’s equally aggressive and angular as the exterior – truth be told we’re a little on the fence with it – particularly that driver’s aircon vents that protrudes from the upper dashboard above the digital instrument cluster and the little shift knob… where do you rest your hand?
On the other hand (pardon the pun), we love the touchpoints from the driver’s seat. The steering wheel remains one of the best on the market (especially wrapped in Alcantara) and flipped door pulls are a great touch. A combination of materials and textures is used throughout, broken up with textured silvers that really speak to this being one of the best premium hatchbacks on the market. Audi has kept physical buttons for climate controls and the cabin exudes that classic Audi feeling with everything you pull, touch, and grab most often being extremely tactile.
At the front of the car, there’s a plethora of soft-touch plastics that make for an interior that feels as expensive as the car’s price tag. Unfortunately, from the rear seats (and below the view line up front) the RS 3 suffers from the latest VW scratchy plastic issue. On first look, they mimic the textures up front but feel far cheaper in quality. We aren’t the first to point this out and we expect this to be the last time we see this in a $100k Audi. We’re also a little concerned about the piano black trims surrounding the gear selector (especially as it’s one large piece).
Should You Buy the 2022 Audi RS 3?
Is it Safe?
The new Audi RS 3 is currently unrated by ANCAP, however, the standard A3 lineup receives 5-stars and scored 89 per cent for adult occupant protection, 81 per cent for child occupant protection score, 68 per cent for vulnerable road user protection, and 73 per cent for safety assist.
All models receive 7 airbags as standard, Audi pre-sense front (AEB), adaptive cruise assist, hold assist (hill start assist), park assist, and front and rear parking sensors. With current chip shortages, the lineup does miss out on various features, including Blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic assist, and exit warning.
Warranty and Servicing Costs
Audi Australia offers a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty in addition to the 12-year manufacturer warranty for bodywork against corrosion perforation.
In terms of service, the intervals are 15,000km/ 12 months, whichever comes first. An Audi five-year service plan can also be purchased any time during the first 12 months of ownership for $3580 AUD. If we look across the pond BMW’s M240i offers a comparable 5-year/ 80,000km ‘Service Plus’ plan (brake pads, rotors, etc.) for $4340 AUD. A comparable Mercedes plan will cost $5150 AUD.
For extra piece of mind, an Audi Advantage package with two years of roadside assistance and scheduled servicing can be purchased for $3800 AUD.
There’s a lot to love about the 2022 Audi RS 3 and it starts to make even more sense when you look across the pond at the other manufacturers. The Mercedes A45 S 4Matic+ is the biggest competitor on paper but is far more expensive (starts from $99,985 AUD before on-road costs) and doesn’t have a 5-cylinder engine with nearly 300kW. We anticipate the new BMW M2 Competition to cost more than $120,000 AUD so it’s hard to put that car in the same conversation and looking at the M240i, it’s for a dedicated coupe buyer as you have next to no room in the rear – we do love it though.
Take into account that this could be the last chance buyers get at a turbocharged 5-cylinder vehicle from Audi and this is about as close as you can get to a no-brainer in the market. If you have around $100,000 AUD to spend on a car and you’re looking for something sporty with a low centre of gravity (no SUVs) and some space in the back, the 2022 Audi RS 3 might be your best bet.