2017 Audi RS 3
Which RS 3 does Edmunds recommend?
Edmunds' Expert Review
Start with a class-leading entry-level luxury sedan like the Audi A3. Double the power output with a 400-horsepower turbocharged five-cylinder engine and upgrade the brakes and suspension to match. Sound like a good idea? Yes, we think so, too. The best part is, this idea has been realized in the 2017 Audi RS 3.
It benefits from all of the smart design and tech from the A3, giving it the kind of performance we're used to pulling out of dedicated sports cars costing much much more. With this in mind, the only real direct competitor is the BMW M2, which happens to be a staff favorite. The RS 3 does have it beat on paper with more power and all-wheel drive, so to say we're excited to test it for ourselves is an understatement. These cars have the makings of an epic shootout.
Trim levels & features
The 2017 Audi RS 3 is an ultra-high-performance variant of the A3 and S3 sedans. It is available in a single trim level and is powered by a turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine (400 horsepower, 354 pound-feet of torque). A seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission sends power to all four wheels.
Standard features include 19-inch alloy wheels with summer performance tires, automatic LED headlights, heated and power-folding mirrors, automatic wipers, a panoramic sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry and ignition, adaptive suspension dampers, selectable drive modes, dual-zone automatic climate control, auto-dimming mirrors, heated front seats, leather upholstery, eight-way manual sport seats with power lumbar adjustment, and 40/20/40-split folding rear seats. Electronic features include Audi's MMI infotainment system, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, a rearview camera, and a 10-speaker audio system with HD and satellite radio and a USB port.
Most of the RS 3's options are offered in bundles. The Technology package includes a Wi-Fi hotspot, smartphone vehicle monitoring and control, a navigation system, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a digital gauge cluster display (Virtual Cockpit), and a Bang & Olufsen premium audio system. You can also get the Dynamic package (wider wheels and tires, a sport exhaust and red brake calipers) and the Dynamic Plus package (a higher top speed, a carbon engine cover, individual tire pressure monitors, front ceramic brake rotors and a fixed sport suspension). Stand-alone options are limited to carbon-fiber interior trim and rear-seat side airbags.
2017 Audi RS 3 video
JONATHAN ELFALAN: Ladies and gents, that is an Audi RS 3. So what makes this car special? Well, it's based off of the Audi's popular A3. But it has double the horsepower, 400 horsepower 354 pound-feet of torque, Quattro all-wheel drive. What else do you need? Let's go. OK, so the RS 3 only really comes in one configuration. That's with the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, as well as the turbocharged inline-five Now, as much as we like manual transmissions, I can't really argue with this box because it makes things really easy. Especially if we're trying to get the best acceleration time here. So to start, we're just going to leave everything as is, as if you were to just turn on the car and mash the gas. Drive. Auto. And here we go. All right. This car gets off the line pretty good. There's about a half-a-second delay in between when I put my foot down and when it actually leaves. But after that, once the engine spools up, there's really not much-- there's not much waiting after that. Let's turn ESC off. Sport mode selected. OK, so for launch control, Audis in the past that we've tested, generally, you just mash the brake, mash the accelerator, and something fantastic is supposed to happen. All right here we go. Oh, yeah. Oh, that's much better. [LAUGHS] Woo. What an improvement. OK, so driving this car around, you get a sense that there's a little bit of turbo lag down in the lower ranges. And only when you're really going for it does it feel like it stays within its power band. So if you can take that terrible lag out of the equation, the result is pretty great. So we dropped a full second off of our 0 to 60 time, zero wheel spin off the line. So we confirmed that the RS 3 is fast, as suspected. But take a corner. Let's go find out. I really wasn't expecting it to actually handle this well. It's got a little bit of weight over its nose, just like the TT RS. So the weight bias is closer to, like, 58% over the front. And so I was expecting it to be a little bit more pushy, a little more prone to understeer. It actually feels like it has a little better balance, and the Quattro all-wheel drive system actually adjusts as you change the mode. So it's looking at sending more of the torque back to the rear wheels. It can only do so much because this is a front-drive system. You're not going to be able to send a ton to the back. It's usually maybe up to 50%. Despite the front bias nature, it feels relatively well-balanced. This has a staggered front-to-rear setup. But this time, it has the bigger tires on the front end, 255-millimeter wide tires versus 235s for the rear. And what that's going to do is it's going to provide this car more front grip than it does rear. So you notice I'm shifting gears with the paddles here. There's good response from the paddles. You don't have to wait a whole second for the gearshifts to actually occur when you ask for them. Audi actually also has this sport mode here that I'm going to switch into. It's supposed to do the shifts for you. It does a pretty good job. It's not as aggressive as we would be with the paddles, so it's downshifting as you're exiting a corner, not really setting you up ideally for the exit. But again, with this dual clutch being so quick, it reduces the number of things you have to think about when you're driving. So while it's maybe not as playful as a rear-drive car, it's definitely more confidence-inspiring. It's probably suitable for somebody that may not have a ton of track experience. It's a little bumpy. And that's because we have the optional dynamic sport plus package, which outfits the RS 3 with a thick suspension, carbon ceramic front brakes, and a couple of other things. Good for, I think, dynamics. As a daily driver, it's definitely going to be a little too busy for most. Standard equipment in this is Audi's magnetic ride adaptive suspension. And that's going to give you options. You can run in comfort mode. You can run in auto. And then you have a dynamic setting, so that's going to have a specific tuning for the RS. And I think that should work pretty well. And then you don't have to put up with the ultra-stiff suspension when you're just going out for groceries. This inline-five this isn't a perfect engine. It has a little bit of turbo lag that really manifests itself when you're not driving it hard. In this situation, it works fantastic because you're always in the boost, you're always higher in the revs, and you never really have a chance to fall out of that. When you're driving this on the street, off the line, I've been in situations where it took a half a step too long for the boost to come in, and I found myself not being able to merge or make, like, the lane changes quick because there was a car coming up in the other lane. And I found myself in those situations more often than not. It's a shame, because I really like this engine. And when you're wailing on it, it's insane how quickly you can drive this thing. This is the interior of the RS 3.R And as you can see, it looks very similar to an A3. So Audi does a really good job with their design. It's elegant, but it's not overdone. It's functional, but it isn't plain. They strike probably one of the best balances between remaining very functional and easy to use, but also making everything look clean. But we've got this really nice, big digital dash that Audi calls its virtual cockpit. It's fully configurable. You can have a large tach in the front if you're driving this thing spiritedly, or you can have it set to display an entire navigation map. The way that this differs from other cars, like the TT RS or the R8 is it has a secondary screen. It actually retracts and pops up when you need it to. They've split the functionality a little bit between the screens, so you don't have to control all the vehicle settings and stuff through here with the thumb wheels. These sports seats are pretty nice. They've got this quilted leather with contrast stitching. You've got the RS logo embossed on the seats, a little bit of ventilation on the back. But what I found surprising is these things are manually adjustable. So everything but the lumbar control is manual. Typically, when seats have manual controls, they're these very aggressive, very track-focused bucket seats. It gives you a finer degree of adjustment for dynamic driving. These things, not so aggressive. Like the bolstering is there, but it doesn't quite hold you in that well. I was moving around a lot when I was on a track. It just makes your everyday routines a little more cumbersome. I think Audi had the idea of these seats being sport-focused because this is an RS vehicle. They didn't go all the way. We've got some alcantara inserts that are also RS-specific. We got some alcantara on the gear shift, we've got some alcantara on the door here. These carbon inserts, I wouldn't need to have them. I think they're an additional cost. But we also have nice alcantara lining on the steering wheel. If I had to nit-pick a little bit about the interior, it would have to be that these vents fall a little below the quality of everything else. In other cabins, Audi has actually integrated the air conditioning controls in the vent, so that it gets rid of this whole lower section down here. And you've got these really trick AC controls built into the center of the vents, and that really cleans up the design. So I understand that the standard A3 follows the same design, so they couldn't really reinvent the vents here. But just for an RS vehicle, you expect a little bit more. And the very last thing I'd like to point out are the paddles. The paddles, they're functional, but they're just a little cheap. For as much as you're using them, you'd really like to feel something that's a little bit more substantial. All in all, this is a very well-done cabin. We're going to continue to enjoy the things that Audi puts out. So, guys, that is the Audi RS 3, an exciting new addition to the segment. And some might even say the new leader. If you like this video, be sure to subscribe. And for more information, check out edmunds.com. [MUSIC PLAYING]
2017 Audi RS 3 Track Test
We've been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the 2017 Audi RS 3 on our shores, and it's finally here. Edmunds Road Test Manager Jonathan Elfalan gets his hands on the 400-horsepower pocket rocket, in Catalunya Red, to find out how quickly it'll clear a quarter-mile and then spends a few laps around the handling circuit to suss out how well it gets around corners. He'll also have a look at the interior to see how it compares against the popular Audi A3, on which it is based.
Features & Specs
Our experts’ favorite RS 3 safety features:
- Audi Pre Sense Basic
- Senses when a front collision is imminent. Can tighten the seat belts, power up the windows and close the sunroof automatically.
- Audi Side Assist
- Alerts you if a car is approaching or lurking in the blind spots and beeps if you signal for a lane change in that direction.
- Rear Cross-Traffic Assist
- Warns the driver if a car is approaching from the sides when backing out of a parking spot.
Odds are, if you're reading this, you have a penchant for performance cars. If all of the specs and accounts of the 2018 Audi RS 3 are any indication, it's the real deal. It's based on the A3 entry-level luxury sedan that is already one of our top-rated cars. But it more than doubles the power output with a turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine, which churns out an impressive 400 horsepower that gets routed to all four wheels. Sign us up!
Standard feature highlights include 19-inch alloy wheels with summer performance tires, LED headlights, power-folding mirrors, a panoramic sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry/ignition, an adaptive suspension, selectable drive modes, dual-zone automatic climate control, auto-dimming mirrors, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, heated front seats, leather upholstery, manually adjustable sport seats, split-folding rear seats, Bluetooth, a rearview camera and a 10-speaker audio system with satellite radio, a USB port and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.
To those features, you can add the Technology package (a Wi-Fi hotspot, remote vehicle monitoring and control, a navigation system, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a virtual instrument panel and a Bang & Olufsen premium audio system); the Dynamic package (wider wheels and tires, a sport exhaust and red brake calipers); and the Dynamic Plus package (a higher top speed, a carbon engine cover, individual tire pressure monitors, front ceramic brake rotors and a fixed sport suspension).
Among other vehicles that are similarly priced with this kind of performance, the BMW M2 is the most direct competitor. For the money, you get more features with the RS 3. We haven't tested the Audi yet, but on specs alone, it's going to be a very close battle. The Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA 45 is also in the class, but it's biased more toward the luxury spectrum rather than outright performance.
Otherwise, we'd look within Audi's own stable to the TT RS coupe as a possible alternative. We can't wait to try out the 2018 Audi RS 3, but in the meantime, use all of Edmunds shopping tools to see if it's a good fit for what you expect out of a compact sport sedan.
2017 Audi RS 3 Overview
The 2017 Audi RS 3 is offered in the following submodels: . Available styles include , and quattro 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 5cyl Turbo 7AM).
What do people think of the 2017 Audi RS 3?
Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2017 Audi RS 3 and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2017 RS 3 5 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2017 RS 3.
Edmunds Expert Reviews
Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2017 Audi RS 3 and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2017 RS 3 featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
Our Review Process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.
Which 2017 Audi RS 3s are available in my area?
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Should I lease or buy a 2017 Audi RS 3?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.