Audi RS3
(2015 - 2022)

  • Incredible performance and dynamic ability
  • Interior fit, finish and quality superb
  • Great levels of tech and equipment
  • Holding value quite well
  • Maintenance and repair costs can become very expensive
  • Many on the used market have been mistreated
  • Being a performance car, requires fastidious care
  • Your licence will be in jeopardy
Overview

Audi’s hottest-ever hatchback, the RS3, made all the right noises, literally and figuratively, when it first lobbed in locally. The nameplate had lived shortly in other markets in gen-two (8P) guise but couldn’t hurdle the necessary ADRs. So Australia’s love affair really began with the arrival of its second iteration, based off the gen-three A3 (8V), in 2015.

With its hi-po turbocharged 2.5 five-cylinder, all-paw traction and 4.3-second 0-100km/h claim, it was instantly coined a giant-killer. For sheer performance, it was level above the likes of Volkswagen Golf R, among Audi’s quickest ever production cars and reset hot hatch benchmarks, albeit in direct competition with the just-launched and equally swift arch nemesis, the Mercedes-AMG A45. Independent media testing clocked it closer to four-seconds flat…

Initially offered as a five-door hatchback only, what made RS3 truly special was its wonderful straight-five engine plying 270kW and 465Nm. It’s tied to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, a RennSport fettled quattro all-paw system with a multi-plate centre clutch, quick-ratio steering and massive 370mm eight piston front brakes. A wider front track, pumped guards, 19-inch wheels…it looks more menacing than the more affordable and milder S3 substitute, too.

Equally special was the price. The basic RS3, with passive suspension, nudged $80k. Start adding the fun stuff like ceramic brakes ($9k), fixed bucket seats ($4500), driver assistance updates ($2k) and the like and your RS3 could hit six figures. On that, the key Performance Pack ($6500) brought adjustable suspension, styling tweaks and carbon bits, a top speed lift (from 250km/h to 280km/h) and the bizarre spec twist of wider front tyres (255mm) than the rears (235mm).

That’s because while the RS3 is utter dynamite in a straight line, its formula made for a bit of understeerer on a racetrack where, presumably, you’d best tap its ultimate potential. Not to say it’s not a cracking back-road carver because the on-road pace the smallest RS model in the fleet could muster is quite breathtaking. It’s just not, famously, as playful a chassis as some other less- potent hot hatches.

Inside, the RS3 remains thoroughly contemporary, with Audi’s fine Virtual Cockpit digital instrumentation, full-featured multimedia (but no smartphone mirroring) and a choice of hard-core RS seats or (no-cost optional) milder leather-electric Sport pews.

By the time the sedan version arrived in 2016 (for an MY17 facelift) outputs had risen to 294kW and 480Nm bringing a sharper 4.1sec 0-100km/h claim. A plusher fit-out, including Nappa leather trim and added bells and whistles, saw pricing creep to $85k for the four-door versions, around four-grand up on the hatches, which could be personalized with one of four different Performance packs ($6k).

In 2018, the RS3 was removed from sale for 18 months due to issues with WTLP certification, returning in 2020 in re-face-lifted form and new (necessary) petrol particulate filter mods, if without noticeable performance degradation. High-spec Carbon Edition versions wanted for a few grand more than the regular hatch ($83,800) and sedan ($86,500). Adaptive suspension and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring was now standard.

For MY22, the RS3 was again revised in a guise sailing north of $90k, now powered by a 2.5L tune boasting 500Nm and offering claimed 3.8sec performance for a breed that just seems to get more potent and quicker with age.

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What goes wrong?
  • RS3s featuring a sunroof are known to creak when it’s cracked open a little.
  • Early models are known to produce excess noise from the rear suspension when driving over rough roads.
  • The steel brakes are known to get a bit squeaky, but replacing the pads and rotors with some non OEM parts will fix this issue.
  • Inside, and this may come as a surprise to those who refuse to believe that Audi build quality is anything but perfection, the RS3 is by no means a stranger to cabin rattles, usually around the front door cards, the glovebox and around the rear-seat where it attaches near the C Pillars.
Model range, pricing and features

RS3

  • Price when new: $78,616 - $86,136
  • Price used: $40,500 - $102,000

Released in October 2015 into the Australian market, the Audi RS3 was available with a 2.5 litre turbocharged 5-cylinder engine mated to a 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission.

The RS3 was only available in a 5-door hatchback, and featured a variety of luxury and premium features found on similar Audi luxury and sports models. As like most Audis, the RS3 came with a plethora of different option packs including the RS performance package, RS design package, Assistance package (which adds Audi pre-sense, adaptive cruise control, high-beam assist) and different styling packages.

From November 2017, the RS3 became available in a 4-door sedan and added a variety of driver assistance features as standard such as: AEB, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, rear cross traffic alert, high-bream assist and also adding wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; and lastly making Audi’s virtual cockpit, a 12.3-inch high resolution digital driver’s display – standard equipment.

The RS3 went on hiatus between mid-2018 and early-2020 due to emissions regulations. When the RS3 returned to Australia, additional features as part of its’ June 2020 update included: metallic paint, Audi magnetic ride, Qi wireless phone charging and a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system.

Features:

19-inch alloy wheels
Tyre repair kit
Matt aluminium window surrounds, exterior mirror housings and single frame grille frame
Rear diffuser
RS dual sports exhaust system
5-star ANCAP safety rating (tested 2013)
7 airbags: driver and front passenger, driver’s knee, front side and full-length curtain airbags
Three-point seatbelts for all occupants
Front seatbelt pretensioners and load limiters
Seatbelt reminder for all occupants
Active head restraints
Anti-lock braking system (ABS)
Electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD)
Anti-slip regulation (ASR)
Electronic stability program (ESP)
Traction control
Electronic differential lock (EDL)
Front and rear parking sensors
Rear view camera with guidelines
Audi side assist (blind spot monitoring)
Engine immobiliser
Anti-theft alarm
Audi Drive Select: select from eco, comfort, dynamic and individual modes
Engine start/stop system
Tyre pressure monitor
LED headlights
LED daytime running lights (DRLs)
LED tail lights
Automatic headlights
Rain sensing wipers
Electromechnical rear vision mirror
Electromechnical parking brake
Leather/alcantara wrapped multi-functional steering wheel
Electromechanical power steering
Sports steering wheel tilt and telescopic reach adjustment
Multi-functional trip computer and display
Central locking and keyless entry
Proximity sensing key
Stop/start button
Cruise control
Dual-zone climate control
Electric mirrors, heated, electrically folding, dimming on driver’s side and kerb view function on passenger’s side
Electric windows, auto up/down for all windows, and global up/down on key by pressing the key
Aluminium interior elements and door still trims
RS sport front seats
Integrated headrests
Nappa leather upholstery with diamond patterned stitching
Heated front seats
Electrically adjustable lumbar support for front seats
Audi’s MMI Navigation Plus infotainment system
7.0-inch infotainment screen
180 watt 10-speaker sound system
DAB+ digital radio
Single CD player – located in glovebox
Satellite navigation with live traffic updates
Bluetooth connectivity – phone calls and audio streaming
Audi Music Interface (AMI) connector
2x SDXC memory card readers
2x USB ports
20GB hard drive
3x 12V power outlets – front, rear and boot
Floor mats – front and rear
LED interior lighting
60:40 folding rear seat
Cargo net

November 2017 update:
Autonomous emergency braking – AEB (low and high speed) – marketed as “”Audi pre-sense front””
Adaptive cruise control (ACC) with Stop&Go function and traffic jam assist
Lane keeping assist (marketed as “Audi active lane assist”
Rear cross traffic assist
Audi pre-sense basic
Attention assist
Hold assist (adding to the electromechnical parking brake)
High-beam assist
Audi virtual cockpit – 12.3-inch high-resolution digital driver’s display
Apple CarPlay – wired
Android Auto – wired
Audi connect (wi-fi hotspot)

June 2020 update:
Metallic paint
Audi magnetic ride
Qi wireless phone charging
14-speaker 705-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system

Carbon Edition

  • Price when new: $86,836 - $89,536
  • Price used: $87,000 - $105,500

With the return of the RS3 in mid-2020, the RS3 was made available in a Carbon Edition model – available both in the hatchback and sedan guise.

The Carbon Edition added 19-inch alloy wheels in a gloss finish, 255/30 front profile tyres, gloss black styling package with Carbon styled exterior mirrors, panoramic sunroof, privacy glass and carbon twill interior trim.

Features:

19-inch alloy wheels in a gloss finish
255/30 front tyres
Exterior mirrors housed in Carbon
Gloss black styling package
Panoramic sunroof
Privacy glass – rear side and rear windows
Interior trim inlays in carbon twill

Should you buy it?

Basically, it’s a small high performance European car that, if not maintained to near obsessive levels or if it has been treated with minimal mechanical sympathy, may potentially cost a fortune to repair in the future.

In terms of driving, yes it’s bloody fast and it gets up to to immense speeds so easily but honestly, do you really genuinely need a car this fast, isn’t that just asking for trouble?

Plus, in terms of the Sportback variants, $80,000 to $100,000 does seem like a lot of money for a hatchback no matter how good it is.

But, that does bring us to…how good these are, and why you should buy one.

As I said at the start of this video the RS3 might just be the perfect car, its incredible combination of skills, how well it executes everything it attempts while proving to so far be reliable and hold its value when used is astounding.

So which is it, should you buy one? It’s a yes but, only if A: you can easily afford the upkeep and maintenance and have some cash stowed away incase something goes bang

And B: if you’ve found a superb example that the seller can categorically prove has been cared for and maintained thoroughly.

It is so close to perfect but remember, the price of perfection is bloody high

Warranty & servicing

Warranty:

3 year/unlimited kilometres

Servicing:

12 months/15,000kms

Tech specs

Body Style:

5-door hatchback
4-door sedan

Engines:

2.5 litre 5-cylinder turbo petrol

Power:

270kW (2.5 litre 5-cylinder turbo petrol) – 2015-17
294kW (2.5 litre 5-cylinder turbo petrol) – 2017-22

Torque:

465Nm (2.5 litre 5-cylinder turbo petrol) – 2015-17
480Nm (2.5 litre 5-cylinder turbo petrol) – 2017-22

Transmission & drivetrains:

7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission

Fuel Consumption:

8.1 – 8.5L/100kms

Length:

4325 – 4343mm (hatchback)
4479mm (sedan)

Width:

1800mm

Height:

1399 – 1452mm

Kerb Weight:

1520 – 1595kg

Disclaimer

Information correct as of June 10, 2022.

The advice provided on this website is general advice only. It has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this advice, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.

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