For Audi lovers, the arrival of the RS 3 in the US market is a big deal. This high-performance compact sedan has now been a rare fruit, with limited sales to overseas markets. The first few RS 3 arrive as a 2017 model and identical to the 2018 model.
The 2018 Audi RS 3 is what happens when you equip the A3 entry-level luxury sedan with a 400-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Of course, the suspension and brakes have been upgraded to match, and most of the A3 and S3 optional feature comes standard on the RS 3.
Trim levels and features
The 2018 Audi RS 3 is a five-passenger ultra-high-performance variant of the A3 and S3 sedans. It’s only available in a single trim level.
Standard equipment for the RS 3 includes keyless entry and ignition, summer performance tires, 19-inch alloy wheels, adaptive suspension dampers, automatic LED headlights, automatic wipers, front and rear parking sensors, a panoramic sunroof, heated and power-folding mirrors.
Inside, you’ll get selectable drive modes, auto-dimming mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated eight-way manual sport seats with power lumbar adjustment, leather upholstery, 40/20/40-split folding rear seats, a rearview camera, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, a 10-speaker audio system with a USB port, HD and satellite radio.
Most of the 2018 Audi RS 3 options are offered in packages. The Technology package adds an expanded digital instrument cluster display (Audi Virtual Cockpit), navigation, smartphone vehicle monitoring and control, a Wi-Fi hotspot and a Bang & Olufsen premium audio system. The Dynamic package adds red brake calipers, a sport exhaust, wider front wheels and tires. The Dynamic Plus package adds a carbon-fiber engine cover, a fixed sport suspension, front ceramic brake rotors, individual tire pressure monitors and increases top speed limiter to 174 mph. The Driver assistance features are bundled into a package, and there are two more packages that largely consist of cosmetic items.
Stand-alone options include rear-seat side airbags, carbon-fiber interior trim, premium vinyl-covered armrests and kneepads.
Powering the 2018 Audi RS 3 is a turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine that generates 400 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque, peak power is available between 5,850 and 7,000 rpm while peak torque is on offer between 1,700 and 5,850 rpm. A seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission with a launch-control mode send that power to all four wheels via the standard Quattro all-wheel-drive system.
In performance testing, the 2018 Audi RS 3, which weighs about 3,450 pounds accelerates from zero 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds. A top speed of 155 mph, which can be increased to 174 mph with the optional Dynamics Plus package.
EPA estimated fuel economy stands at 22 mpg combined driving (19 city/28 highway). These are respectable figures considering the car’s focus on performance.
The 2018 Audi RS 3 is a stylishly enhanced version of the A3, and its interior benefits from simple design, many tech features, easy-to-use interface, and excellent materials throughout the cabin. With good visibility and decent headroom, the cabin is functional as it is attractive. The front seats standard extendable thigh support is a welcome touch.
The interior bins and pockets are modestly sized with enough space for your personal belongings. The trunk is not much different, requiring you to fold the 40/20/40-split backseat if you need to haul things such as golf bag.
Release date and price
The 2018 Audi RS 3 is on sale and arriving now at dealers nationwide with price starting at $55,875 (which includes a $975 destination charge). The optional Dynamic Plus Package will cost an additional $4,800, the Black Optic Package $1,300, the RS Design Package $1,000, the Technology Package $3,200 and the Driver Assistance Package will cost consumers $1,400.