The New 2022 Audi RS3 Continues a Trend

The Audi RS name goes back a very long way. So does Audi’s legendary five-cylinder motor, which dates back to the dominant Quattro rally car of the ’80s. Now, the spiritual successor to both the RS line and the famed Audi five-pot motor is here: the new 2022 Audi RS3. The new RS3 has a lot to live up to outside of the RS brand itself. The last car was a world-beating sedan at a (relatively) world-beating price, which dominated tracks and drag strips alike.

The new 2022 Audi RS3 has a lot to live up to

The Nogaro Blue Audi RS2 Avant station wagon
1995 Audi RS2 | National Motor Museum via Getty Images

Let’s talk a little bit about that lineage if you’ll allow me to bury the leade here a little. The RS brand has been around for quite some time, making its debut on the Audi RS2 Avant in the early ’90s. Much like BMW’s M brand or Mercedes’ AMG division, the RS line is reserved for only the most hardcore Audi models. Additionally, that badge has come to signify a lot of that oh-so-cliched “prestige and heritage” within the German brand.

Back in the 90s, the RS2 was just about all the car you needed, on and off the track. It was a comfortable, fast, practical car that ate M cars for breakfast. And given its size and turbocharged five-cylinder motor, that is exactly what the new RS3 must do. In order to take on the four-door M3 and similar AMG models, the RS3 has to make the like RS2. By that I mean it needs to be a comfortable, fast, practical car that eats M cars for breakfast.

Drift mode isn’t just for the Golf R

The rear of the Kyalami Green Audi RS3
2022 Audi RS3 | Audi

On the street, previous RS3 models have done just that. Now, the new 2022 Audi RS3 needs to do it again. Of late, BMW has lost some of the attributes that make their cars so great, namely in the styling department. They’re still fun and fast, but Audi is looking to capitalize on that weakness. The new RS3 is quite the looker, managing to be aggressive (especially in the above Kyalami Green) without telling everyone what the hell you’re driving around in.

Now, Audi is also looking to add a little fun to the mix. Borrowing from the Volkswagen-adjacent 2022 Golf R, the new RS3 gets a “drift mode”, according to Audi. No, it won’t decouple the car’s front axle, but Audi promise it’ll make the car a little easier to slide, on a closed track of course. And yes, the new 2022 Audi RS3 promises more. More comfort, more convenience, more power, the whole lot. And that’s a good thing, but it also continues a precedent in the industry of late.

New cars always have to promise more

The Kyalami Green accented interior of the new RS3 sedan
2022 Audi RS3 | Audi

Making more power (400 hp) and more torque (368 lb-ft) the new RS3 certainly delivers on “more.” Frankly, in order to sell any cars at all, new cars must always promise more. Unfortunately, that also somewhat dilutes the driving experience, hence the loss of a manual transmission in all Audi models. That dilution makes cars more usable, but a hardcore enthusiast nerd like myself must wonder what we’re losing in exchange. It’s now up to Audi to make that trade-off worth it, and if they do, it’ll surely be the world-beater that the RS2 Avant was back in the day.

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