2022 Audi RS3 Overview: Drift Mode Desires of RWD Audis


You’ll have seen the information final month that the worldwide inhabitants of tigers is definitely 40 p.c greater than scientists beforehand estimated, given developments within the methods and know-how used to trace the animals. It was a uncommon uplifting second—in a world the place the whole lot good appears to be going away, or altering past recognition, how typically have you ever heard a report that claims, “Hey, you realize, seems issues aren’t as dire as we thought.”

That isn’t the case for the endangered species on the heart of immediately’s evaluate, the five-cylinder engine. Fifteen years in the past, the US had its decide of burbly sedans, hatchbacks, wagons, and even vans from a variety of automakers with a delightfully bizarre five-pot motor below the hood. In the present day? You might have the 2022 Audi RS3, and that, my buddies, is it.

The final manufacturing automotive in North America (and one in every of simply three left worldwide) nonetheless rocking a 1-2-4-5-3 firing order is valuable in different methods, too. It’s a 401-horsepower, genuinely compact sports activities sedan in a world that actively hates these now (silly world). It feels and drifts just like the closest factor Audi’s completed to a rear-drive mannequin this aspect of the R8 because of an ingenious torque splitting differential on the again axle. It affords optionally available semi-slick Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R summer season tires requiring consumers to signal a waiver acknowledging the chance of working them in rain or chilly climate (and at 7:40.8, it’s sooner across the Nürburgring than the Lexus LFA and the primary Porsche Cayman GT4 consequently). It’s acquired a high pace of 180 mph, but it’s nonetheless a comparatively—comparatively—subdued selection visually.

Add all that up and also you get a automotive that doesn’t actually make plenty of sense, however like a Philip Glass rating, by some means packages all that dissonance into one thing approaching true artwork. Put the 2022 RS3 on a monitor—or in our case, a monitor, a barren desert freeway, and a floodlit drift course arrange at Spring Mountain Raceway exterior Las Vegas—and it’s clear Audi’s constructed itself a virtuoso performer.

2022 Audi RS3 Overview Specs

  • Base value (as examined): $59,995 ($64,845)
  • Powertrain: 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder | 7-speed dual-clutch | all-wheel drive
  • Horsepower: 401 @ 6,500 rpm
  • Torque: 369 lb-ft @ 3,500 rpm
  • 0-60 mph: 3.6 seconds
  • Prime pace: 180 mph (with optionally available Dynamic Plus package deal)
  • Curb weight: 3,649 kilos
  • Cargo area: 8.3 cubic ft
  • Fast take: A very nice sports activities sedan that has me dreaming of rear-drive Audis.
  • Rating: 8.5/10

Although it’s constructed on the fourth-gen A3 platform, a extra instructive beginning place for discussing the Audi RS3 is the present VW Golf R. That’s the place the torque-splitting rear finish showcased within the RS3 made its debut, and it have to be mentioned—maybe if the Golf R additionally got here with a 401-hp five-cylinder, individuals would shut up in regards to the infotainment controls and focus their consideration on the drive. Torque splitting, or torque vectoring (or no matter you need to name it, language is malleable) isn’t a brand new idea in efficiency vehicles, however the RS3 takes it to new heights for Audi.


Sitting between the rear wheels, the RS Torque Splitter is a particular rear differential changing the outdated Haldex unit. It contains a pair of multi-plate clutches that may not solely deal with one hundred pc of the engine’s energy heading to the again axle, however can additional shuffle all that energy to a single rear wheel as wanted primarily based on elements like longitudinal and lateral forces, steering angle, and throttle place. In follow, its most helpful software is pumping energy to the skin wheel in a pointy flip, serving to the automotive to rotate as an alternative of pushing huge because the inside wheel coasts alongside. However in fact, the actual prize is that, as marketed, the RS3 can now maintain a real drift.

We’ll get to that in a second. First, the total efficiency retinue surrounding the RS Torque Splitter. Working backward, you’ve acquired a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission hooked as much as that 401 hp/369 lb-ft five-cylinder engine, itself an evolution of the earlier five-pot discovered within the final RS3. Nonetheless an open diff on the entrance axle, however irrespective of—the pulling wheels solely get precedence in Consolation driving mode, with Auto balancing the facility back and front, Dynamic prioritizing the rear axle, and a slate of RS-specific modes that actually hammer the again tires. Zero-to-60 is available in 3.6 seconds en path to a 180-mph high pace with the optionally available Dynamic Plus package deal.

These optionally available Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R summers or commonplace Pirelli streets are wider within the entrance than the again (265 mm versus 245 mm) to extend turn-in, and the entire entrance finish—subframe, management arms, anti-roll bars, hubs, spindles—is strengthened with RS-specific elements to make the monitor two inches wider than an S3, with extra unfavorable camber as well. The suspension’s been switched up, too, with Audi Magnetic Trip going away in favor of adaptive dampers with a dynamic chassis management system that goals to maintain the physique as stage as potential on the expense of ultra-stiffness you sometimes discover in true efficiency vehicles. Lastly, commonplace 14.8-inch metal brakes with six-piston calipers or optionally available 15-inch carbon ceramics present the requisite stopping energy, the latter saving 22 kilos of unsprung weight.

Visually, the Audi RS3 appears to be like the half—a hungrier-looking grille, larger air intakes and flared fenders, a lowered trip (minus 10 mm in comparison with the S3), an RS-exclusive Kyalami Inexperienced paint, and naturally the brand new checkered-flag DLRs that may alternate to spell out the automotive’s identify once you first flip it on. It’s a little bit of theatricality that both comes throughout as a enjoyable accent or a gimmick relying in your persona. 

Kyle Cheromcha

2022 RS3 On Highway

Put the 2022 RS3 on an empty desert freeway and three issues are obvious. One, it’s shockingly clean and composed at excessive speeds—any German price its salt needs to be, however that is nonetheless a tightly wound compact sedan. Two, the engine stays an absolute peach, with a little bit of old-school turbo lag out of the gate offset by a linear energy curve that pulls straight as much as the redline and the identical fantastic noise ripping by the optionally available RS Sport exhaust. And three, the drive modes completely make a distinction, altering the automotive from a snug freeway miler to an keen, virtually tail-happy sports activities automotive once you begin dipping into the RS settings.

All of the whereas, the inside stays a snug, engaging, well-appointed place to spend time with only a few ergonomic oddities, like a bizarre touch-based quantity dial as an alternative of a basic knob and a tiny stub for a gear shifter.

Audi’s 12.3-inch Digital Cockpit continues to be one in every of my favourite digital gauge clusters on the market, with wise menu navigation, well-designed show settings, and a super-crisp display screen. The ten.1-inch Audi MMI touchscreen for the infotainment additionally will get the job completed, and the way in which the entire sprint is canted in direction of the motive force is a welcome reminder of how efficiency automotive cockpits used to really feel like, nicely, actual cockpits.

RS3 on Monitor

On Nevada’s Spring Mountain Raceway in 95+ diploma warmth, all of it comes collectively for actual—although you’ll undoubtedly need to preserve it in handbook mode, as even in its sharpest computerized setting the transmission feels a bit too gradual for flat-out efficiency driving. Shifts are fairly rattling fast with the paddles, fortunately. However the monitor supplies the perfect showcase for the RS3’s two standout options, the torque splitter and the semi-slick tires. The torque splitter encourages you to actually ship it, rotating the automotive into corners the place you’re carrying a bit an excessive amount of momentum, finding out the mess for you in high-speed, off-camber curves, and in any other case remodeling the automotive right into a rear-biased brute with little or no understeer. The tires—oh, the tires. The quantity of grip offered by these Pirelli P Zeroes is actually heroic, displaying over 1.25 Gs on the sprint meter in braking and cornering, providing razor-sharp turn-in (although extra really feel by the wheel can be good) and brutal acceleration.

The one massive grievance—and actually the one grievance—is that the carbon ceramic brakes have a fairly bizarre pedal really feel. It’s a must to actually mash them to get the anticipated stopping energy, and it’s virtually like nothing occurs within the first inch of the pedal stroke. Issues occur fast sufficient on monitor that you just don’t actually discover it within the warmth of the second, however round city, it’s undoubtedly an odd sensation to really feel such as you’re standing on the brakes coming as much as a cease signal. No complaints about their utility, although. In nicely over 20 laps below the baking desert solar, brake fade was utterly absent.

RS3 Drifting

After all, the massive information right here is the drift mode—or quite, the RS Torque Rear mode. No, I don’t perceive the identify, both. In contrast to different drift modes from different OEMs, RS Torque Rear doesn’t shut off the entrance axle utterly. As an alternative, it retains the entrance wheels stay simply sufficient to cease the again finish from coming all the way in which round, primarily setting you as much as preserve an ideal drift with out overcooking it. 

Audi arrange a brief drift course within the form of a large RS to present it a shot. We began from the underside of the vertical line in R, donutted round a cone on the high, swept down the slanted line after which linked an S drift to spherical it out. As a result of it’s not a pure RWD mode, you must method the drift aggressively to sign to the automotive that that is certainly what you need to be doing. I had the perfect luck dashing up the straight in first or second gear, virtually coming to a whole cease close to the cone on the high of the R, after which hammering the gasoline to get the again finish to step out. As soon as it does, it’s only a matter of managing the throttle and steering to maintain it spinning with out the pc becoming concerned and making an attempt to straighten you out with the entrance wheels. Donut: unlocked.

Subsequent, identical to on the monitor, the RS3 encourages an aggressive foot if you wish to maintain a drift by an prolonged, sweeping flip. I used to be in a position to get the automotive totally sideways by right here by once more simply braking laborious after which punching the gasoline to encourage rotation, although entry is all the time extra swish than exit until you’re an precise professional. As soon as into the S a part of the course, the way in which the torque splitter pops these clutches open and shut makes it a cinch to attach reverse drifts. It’s a ridiculously enjoyable time, however I’ve to admit I used to be slightly uneasy about the potential of the entrance axle waking up all through. When you drive a RWD automotive, you know the way it’ll behave once you attempt to do a donut. Audi’s completed a masterful job getting the RS3 to behave like one on demand, however the lack of a real RWD-only mode takes some psychological adjustment when you must belief that it’ll merely act like a RWD automotive when the second is correct.

The Verdict

The purposeful dissonance packaged into virtually each side of the 2022 Audi RS3 is what makes it so fascinating—and so does the value. It begins at slightly below $60,000, and the automotive I drove on the street was optioned to a comparatively modest $64,845 as examined on the street with goodies like a Bang & Olufsen stereo, a heads-up show, and a sport exhaust. The track-prepped mannequin rang up at $72,890 largely due to virtually $6,000 in visible upgrades (the particular inexperienced paint and carbon fiber trim), the opposite half of that enhance coming from the $5,500 Dynamic Plus improve that brings ceramic brakes and an extra $450 upcharge for the semi-slick tires. Sadly, you possibly can’t spec the tires with out the Dynamic Plus package deal, so successfully they’re a $6,000 possibility regardless of the absurdly low listed cost.

Kyle Cheromcha

At both value, it’s undoubtedly plenty of automotive for the cash. And till the subsequent BMW M2 comes round, it actually stands alone as an precise track-capable compact efficiency sedan (its closest analog is likely to be the Mercedes-AMG CLA45, however that’s not arrange with monitor driving in entrance of minds just like the RS3). The RS3 is just not a automotive that makes plenty of enterprise sense within the context of 2022 and the business’s ceaseless march in direction of electrification, however as a love letter to lovers and a homage to Audi’s previous, it’s nearly nearly as good because it will get.

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