Audi of America announced an expansion of its A3 and S3 sedan line-up this week Wednesday with the unveiling of the all-new second generation Audi RS 3.
The high-performance sedan is powered by a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline 5-cylinder engine pumping out 401 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. That’s more ponies than before as the previous RS 3, sold in 2020, was rated at 394 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque.
Pricing starts at $59,995.
A notable performance enhancement
The Audi RS 3 comes with what the company describes an new first for the brand: the RS Torque Splitter. It’s a rear-axle differential with an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch on each drive shaft, distributing the drive torque to the rear axle and allowing for it to be fully variable between the rear wheels. Audi says the result is better stability, especially on wet ground, and improved agility during fast cornering.
The RS Torque Splitter also increases drive torque while cornering to the outside wheel to reduce understeer.
The system is fully integrated into the RS 3’s driving modes, which include Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, RS Torque Rear (for controlled drifts) and RS Performance (for track use to minimize understeer and oversteer). The standard RS Sport suspension is 0.39 inch lower than the Audi S3, and 0.98 inch lower than A3.
The six-piston front brakes use 14.8-inch brake discs. Out back, you’ll find a single-piston caliper with 12.2-inch brake discs. All calipers are painted red. Fifteen-inch front ceramic discs are optional, reduce weight by 22 pounds, and are more resistant to brake fade.
A wardrobe update
But the RS3 boasts a number of other upgrades, including the usual wardrobe enhancements. This includes an RS front bumper, redesigned matte black honeycomb grille flanked by large air intakes. Of course, the RS 3 wears flared wheel arches, with functional side air outlets. And if you look closely, you may notice its front track is 1.3 inches wider. At the rear, the RS 3 you’ll find a black rear lip spoiler, an RS-specific rear bumper with built-in diffuser and RS exhaust system that includes a fully variable flap control.
The standard 19-inch cast aluminum wheels can be fitted with optional Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R motorsport tires for racetrack use. Other exterior options include a Carbon package that adds carbon fiber mirror housings, rear spoiler, and side sill inlays. You can also opt for the Black optic plus package, with matte black 19-inch 10-Y-spoke wheels, black Audi rings and badges, and a black roof — the 21st century’s rendition of a vinyl roof.
The inside story
Open the door and you’ll find Audi’s 12.3-inch instrument cluster relays pertinent performance data such as g-forces, lap times, and acceleration from 0-60 mph, 0-125 mph, quarter mile, and eighth of a mile stats. Other unique trims features include an RS-specific blinking shift indicator. In manual transmission mode, the RPM display changes its blinking pattern from green to yellow to red, indicating the best time to change gears.
In the center 10.1-inch infotainment screen, drivers can also access the car’s coolant, engine, transmission oil temperatures, as well as the g-forces and tire pressure figures.
An RS-specific three-spoke steering wheel is wrapped in leather and features hands-on detection, polished zinc die-cast steering wheel paddles and a button for RS driving modes. The interior is finished in elements of green and black, along with RS-specific seats.
The rest of the A3 line
The new model is the final piece of the lineup that Audi first revealed in October 2021. The A3 competes against such stalwarts as the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and CLA-Class, BMW 2 Series, Lexus IS, Genesis G70, Cadillac CT4, Acura ILX and forthcoming Integra among others.
Available in A3 and S3 models in Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige trim, the new A3 is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged aluminum-alloy DOHC 4-cylinder engine rated at 201 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque augmented by a standard 48-volt mild-hybrid system and mated to a standard 7-speed S-tronic dual-clutch automatic with manual shifting through steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Audi quotes this A3’s 0-60 mph run at 6.3 seconds with Quattro, a $2,000 option, and 6.6 seconds with front-wheel drive. Yet it still returns an EPA-estimated 29 mpg city, 38 mpg highway and 32 mpg combined
The sportier S3 is endowed with a more powerful version of the same engine, rated at 306 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. The sportier S3 is endowed with a more powerful version of the same engine, rated at 306 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Quattro and the 7-speed dual clutch are standard. Fuel economy is rated at 28 mpg city/36 mpg highway/31 mpg combined, with a 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds.
The 2022 Audi A3’s prices start at $33,900 for the A3, $35,900 for the A3 quattro, and $44,900 for the S3 Premium. Prices do not include options or a $1,045 destination charge.
The 2022 Audi RS 3 is slated to be on sale by this summer.