Audi S3 vs RS 3: Is the Performance Worth the Cash?
Drivers in the market for a compact, luxury sport sedan have a pair of great choices within the Audi lineup. With both the Audi S3 and RS 3, you get a high level of performance and luxury. But is the added $15k price tag of the RS 3 worth it for the added performance? Check out this comparison to see how these two sport luxury sedans stack up.
Starting with the good stuff
Comparing the performance of the Audi S3 and Audi RS 3 in simple terms is easy. The RS 3 is clearly the more sport-oriented model of the two. That said, the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the S3 is no slouch. It gives you 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, with peak torque at just 3,000 rpm.
Meanwhile, the Audi RS 3 uses a turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder powerplant to crank out 401 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. The differences are clear right away, and the sound of that unique five-cylinder engine may be all it takes for some enthusiasts to pull the trigger.
Audi S3 vs RS 3 handling test
Half the fun of driving a sport-luxury sedan like these two Audi outfits is hucking them through corners on your way home from work. Both the Audi S3 and Audi RS 3 approach 1G of lateral grip, so they’ll both be plenty of fun to hoon. According to Car and Driver, the RS 3 carries a 0.06 g advantage over the 0.90 g offered by its more sedate sibling. In real terms, that difference is scarcely noticeable. Put the right tires on the S3 and you’ll have no trouble matching the hopped-up hooligan through the curves.
Where the Audi S3 beats the Audi RS 3
If performance is all that matters, the Audi RS 3 is clearly a step ahead. But for drivers who want a more comfortable and usable daily driver, the Audi S3 starts to show its worth.
For starters, the 18-inch wheels you get with the Audi S3 make for a more comfortable ride and better grip. The added sidewall means the tire is more flexible, softening bumps and providing a bigger cushion before it breaks traction.
The RS 3 makes up for the grip with a wider contact patch, but it offers a harsh ride. The added harshness may make it a tough sell for someone looking to drive this car to the office every day.
Choosing between the two Audi sport compacts
Making the decision between the Audi S3 and Audi RS 3 comes down to your budget above all else. If you have the extra $15,000 lying around, the RS 3 is a good choice. It’s comfortable enough for daily use, and any discomfort is forgiven as soon as the five-cylinder bellow strikes the ear drum.
That said, the 2.0-liter turbo of the S3 is less expensive to maintain, sharing parts with several VA-Group models. In addition, replacement tires for the 18-inch square setup will save you hundreds. It still offers plenty of fun when pushed, and is more capable of a serene ride when cruising. If answering to an accountant at the end of each year, the S3 will always be the more responsible choice.