2017 Audi RS 3 Review

RS 3

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2017 Audi RS 3 Overview

The U.S. misses out on some of the most exciting products European automakers offer in their home countries—from fast wagons to giant-slaying hot hatchbacks, it’s easy to feel a little jealous once you see what’s across the pond. But sometimes an automaker decides to send over a piece of this forbidden fruit, like Audi’s announcement at the New York Auto Show that a sedan version of the RS 3 will be coming to North America for 2017.

Audi has been selling the RS 3 in Europe for a number of years, but only as a hatchback. While U.S. buyers have historically shied away from hatchbacks, sedans tend to do very well, and Audi expects 40 percent of RS 3 sedan sales to come from the North American market.

Under the RS 3 sedan’s skin lie many of the components found in the upcoming TT RS. First is a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline 5-cylinder engine good for 400 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque, an increase of 108 hp and 74 lb-ft over the S3 sedan. A 7-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission and a revised quattro all-wheel-drive (AWD) system put the power to the pavement, and with launch control activated, the RS 3 can hit 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds. Top speed is limited to 155 mph but can be increased to 174 mph with the available Dynamic Plus package.

The RS 3 comes standard with a set of magnetorheological dampers filled with magnetic fluid that adapt instantly to road conditions. Conventional steel springs with adjustable dampers are available, but consider this only if you live in an area where the roads are pristine, as this setup is very firm. Large ventilated disc brakes are standard, although if you want the ultimate stopping power, you can equip your RS 3 with carbon-ceramic disc brakes. Audi’s drive select system offers 4 drive modes—Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, and Individual—that alter shift points, throttle response, steering, and dampers to provide the best driving experience. Additionally, the stability-control system now comes with a Sport mode for quicker system intervention during aggressive driving.

If you want a sports sedan that won’t stand out, you should probably pass on the RS 3. Audi has turned up the exterior’s aggression level to 11, with a deeper bumper that features larger air intakes for additional engine and brake cooling and a grille surround with “quattro” written along the bottom. For the back, the RS 3 receives a lip spoiler, diffuser, and dual tailpipes that deliver the sweet sound of the engine. Standard 19-inch alloy wheels come wrapped in high-performance summer tires. And if you want your RS 3 to look even more striking, you can custom order a special exterior color through the Audi exclusive program.

The interior of the RS 3 doesn’t look too different from that of the S3 sedan, aside from a set of Nappa leather sport seats with quilt-stitched sections. The cabin is outfitted with aluminum and carbon fiber trim and boasts a standard 7-inch screen with the latest version of Audi’s MMI infotainment system, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Optional technology features include a 4G LTE data connection; Audi connect with traffic, weather, fuel prices, and Twitter alerts; and Audi’s virtual cockpit, which swaps the standard instrument cluster for a fully customizable 12.3-inch display.

As for safety, the RS 3 will come with Audi pre sense basic, which prepares the vehicle in the event of a crash by closing all the windows and pre-tensioning the front seatbelts. Blind-spot monitoring is available through an optional Technology package and will come standard on the 2018 model.

Only a small number of 2017 Audi RS 3 sedans will be available for sale this summer, with a starting price tag of $54,500. 2017 RS 3’s will come preconfigured with a number of optional features, such as carbon fiber inlays, the virtual cockpit, a Bang & Olufsen sound system, red brake calipers, and a sport exhaust system. If you miss out on picking up a 2017 model, however, don’t fret—Audi will ship a larger quantity of 2018 RS 3 sedans sometime soon after.

Updated

Ask William Maley how he started as an automotive writer and he would say he just fell into it. Based in Michigan, William has driven vehicles of all sizes and shapes. His work has appeared on Autobytel, CARFAX, Cheers & Gears, and U.S. News Best Cars.

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