2 Reasons to Buy the 2023 Audi RS 3, and 2 Reasons to Choose the Competition, According to Motortrend

The latest Audi RS 3 gets a power boost and some fun-focused tech, but are those upgrades worth the cost. With help from this Motortrend review, we take a look at the 2023 Audi RS 3 to find reasons you may want one, and a few things that might keep you away.

A 2023 Audi RS 3 in blue parked by a mountain
The Audi RS 3 comes in several great colors | Audi Newsroom

2 Reasons to Buy the 2023 Audi RS 3

Heaps of handling character

The Audi RS 3 sits on a front-wheel drive architecture, but Quattro drive renders that point moot. The torque-vectoring rear differential helps balance out the uneven weight for crisp handling. A unique reverse-biased wheel setup helps add front grip as well. And with stiffer suspension components than its more tame siblings, the RS 3 feels alive even at relatively pedestrian speeds.

That five-cylinder turbo

In a world of decreasing displacement and fewer cylinders, we’re thrilled that the Audi RS 3 retains its five-cylinder powerplant. This time around it delivers an impressive 401 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. Even better, it makes a sound that will never fail to bring a smile to you and anyone that hears it. Except for your nosy neighbor, but who really cares about them. In less than four seconds you’ll be speeding away at 60 mph.

That five pot power gets sent through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission via the paddle shifters. Getting it into gear feels a bit awkward thanks to the bizarre shift knob. However, paddle shifters provide lightning-quick gear changes once you’re moving forward.

Why you may consider the competition

Money, money, money

The 2023 Audi RS 3 starts at $60,000. And that’s before dealer markups and options take some models to nearly six figures. Now, we’ll admit that the RS 3 is a rip-roaring good time, but is it worth all that coin? Not when a Porsche Cayman starts at $65,000 and a BMW M240i can be had for less than $50,000. Even the upcoming AMG CLA starts at just a tick over $50,000, making the price tag of the RS 3 feel truly outrageous.

Not to mention, the above models all feature more upscale cabin touches than the Audi compact. The design looks good and the seats are fine. However, at this price point quality materials matter, and the RS 3 doesn’t hold up its end of the $60,000 bargain.

The interior of the 2023 Audi RS 3 on a desert background.
The interior of the 2023 Audi RS 3 lacks refinement versus the competition | Audi Newsroom

The 2023 RS 3 is smaller than it looks

The Audi RS 3 is classed as a subcompact, but from the outside it’s hard to imagine why. A 103-inch wheelbase and 73-inch width make it feel closer to a compact or mid-size sedan on approach. Once you get inside, you quickly realize how little space you’re working with. The trunk measures a scant eight cubic feet, making it smaller than a BMW 2 Series coupe. And while you get five seats, we guarantee your friends would be more comfortable in the back of a Golf R.

The 2023 Audi RS 3 in blue driving on a desert road
The RS 3 is fun, but the price makes it hard to choose | Audi Newsroom
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Should you buy the 2023 Audi RS 3?

If you want a practical daily driver with a spicy personality, the Audi RS 3 probably isn’t the car for you. For the price, you can have more practicality in a similar Mercedes-Benz or BMW model. But if it’s pure performance and all-wheel drive capability you want, the 2023 Audi RS 3 formula cannot be denied.