Audi RS3 Sportback review - the most powerful hot hatch ever built, but does it deliver?

Dan Prosser
20 Oct 2015

A step up above its predecessor but still not as mighty as the spec sheet suggests

Evo Rating: 
Addictive noise, lighter on its feet than predecessor, quality
Not a big step up from Golf R or BMW M135i, still a shade sensible

evo Verdict

The new RS3 is, as it stands, the most powerful hot hatch ever built. With four-wheel drive and a twin-clutch gearbox it’s a formidably rapid cross-country machine with enough raw pace to trouble much more expensive machinery. It’s also a practical and very useable car, too, but sadly it just isn’t as much fun to drive as a hot hatch should be on an engaging stretch of road.

The progress Audi has made between the previous RS3 and this one is notable, although it remains a slightly heavy-footed, uninvolving performance car compared to the best in class. The character and sound of the five-cylinder turbo engine is a highlight, though. 

evo Tip

Better to avoid optional fripperies like the £495 carbon fibre pack for the engine bay and £325 cost for the red painted brake calipers. Instead money is probably better spent on the comfortable super sports seats which cost £795. They add a bit more of that RS feel to the car which otherwise can appear little more than a standard S3 on the inside.

evo Comment

'This Audi lacks the piercing focus of the hardcore A45 AMG but is a more enjoyable, more rounded car and feels much less one-dimensional. On the ractrack it'll even allow you to throw it into corners in a deliberate near-spin and then pulls you clear in a cloud of smoke and a gale of laughs.

In fact, given the space to really take the RS3 by the scruff, it displays a really indulgent, fun side. It's a shame that for the most part on the road it feels just a little uptight. In summary, much better than the old car but nothing like as spectacular as the spec sheet suggests' - Jethro Bovingdon, evo 210

Performance and 0-60 time > Very fast on paper, reaching 62mph in 4.3sec. Oddly, doesn't feel as fast as that on the road. Sounds great, though.

Engine and gearbox > Five-cylinder turbocharged engine produces 362bhp, through a standard seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Gearbox will hold your choice of gear, rather than changing up on the limiter.

Ride and handling > Better than previous RS3s, for which Audi should be commended. Unfortunately, it's not as involving as the cheaper Volkswagen Golf R also sold within the VW Group.

MPG and running costs > You'll manage up to 30mpg without too much issue, against an official 34.5mpg. Other running costs may be higher though - tyres are not cheap.

Prices, specs and rivals > Clocks in at just under £41,000, which puts it in Mercedes-AMG A45 and BMW M2 territory. Perhaps its best rival though - the Golf R - is ten grand cheaper.

Interior and tech > Won't wow in terms of the latest gadgets, but the tech that is included is well thought-out. As is the cabin itself, which matches Audi's typically high standards.

Design > If you're already a fan of the Audi S3 then the RS3 will certainly tickle your fancy, but as with all Audis, the styling is divisive - some will love it, others will find it wholly unimaginative.

Videos > We've got two videos of the RS3 so far, driving the car on its icy launch and pitting it head-to-head with the Volkswagen Golf R.

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