Those who want to track their cars should opt for the Dynamic Plus Package, which comes with a carbon fiber engine cover, carbon ceramic front disc brakes, steel springs with fixed dampers, a 174-mph top speed (up from 155), organic LED taillights, and a tire-pressure monitoring system that also shows tire temperature.
To show off the fruits of its labor, Audi invited Motor Authority to test the RS 3 on the track at Lakeville, Connecticut’s Lime Rock Park, and on the streets of the sleepy New England towns surrounding the picturesque track.
On the track, the RS 3 is a ball. While it isn’t as precise and direct as its TT RS cousin, this is a sport sedan, not an all out sports car. That means it requires a little bit more finesse to get the most out of it, but the underlying character is the same—you just have to drill down to it, often with your right foot.
As I stated in my review of the TT RS, it is a sports car that responds well to lift-off oversteer. The strategy is simple. With all that weight over the front end, the car wants to push when driven hard into a corner. Instead of decrying this as a flaw, use it. You can almost overdrive the car into a given turn until it looks like it’s going to wash out, then simply lift your right foot, let the weight settle over the front end and create more tire contact patch. At that point, the front end will tuck in and turn. The TT RS is easy to catch when it starts to rotate, so you simply point the car in the right direction, get back on the throttle, and let Quattro pull you out of the turn.
The same goes for the RS 3, but the ballet is more expressive. With a higher center of gravity, the car pitches over a bit as it rotates, and with a longer wheelbase, the rear end is slower to come around. It’s still progressive and easy to control, and that quick-and-quicker steering helps make the most of it. Still, the RS 3 requires a more aggressive driver to make the dance happen, but when you get it right, it’s quite rewarding.
On the street, the RS 3’s softer suspension setup and taller ride height gives it a smoother ride than the TT RS, making it a firm but generally forgiving car that could do duty as an everyday driver.
An RS for less
The 2018 Audi RS 3 starts at $55,875, including destination, making it the most affordable Audi RS model. For that money you get manually adjustable nappa leather sport seats with a diamond pattern upholstery and more than enough lateral and back support, a grippy leather and Alcantara flat-bottom steering wheel, an Alcantara-covered shift knob, the MMI Touch control interface that recognizes fingertip inputs, and a Panorama sunroof. Seat heating, dual-zone automatic climate control, and aluminum trim are also standard.
Most buyers will also want the $3,200 Tech package, which adds the Audi Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster, navigation, a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system that cranks out 705 watts of power, and six months of Audi Connect Prime and Plus, which includes Google Earth map views, access to internet radio, and a wi-fi hotspot, among other features.
Bottom line? For under $60,000. You get Audi civility with real track capability, and you punch your ticket to the expanding Audi Sport lineup. It's one heck of a fun combination. Angry bee sounds included.
Audi provided travel and lodging to Internet Brands Automotive to bring you this firsthand report.