Though not in customers’ hands yet, the 2022 Audi RS 3 has already ripped up a Nürburgring lap record. The revised sport sedan just set a new best time for compact cars on the famous Nordschleife circuit. Audi Sport racing and development driver Frank Stippler piloted the RS 3 to establish the new record of 7:40.748.
More power and traction courtesy of quattro
The RS 3’s output of 394 hp and AWD were likely key factors in beating the previous record by 4.64 seconds. The Renault Mégane R.S. Trophy-R had maintained that class record since 2019 with a time of 7:45.39. The front-wheel-drive Mégane has less power at 300 hp, but it also weighs nearly 600 lbs less than the Audi.
Compared to the previous RS 3, the latest version has a wider front track by 1.3 inches. The RS adaptive dampers are independently computer-controlled, adjusting based on the surface and driving mode selected. Combined with new drivetrain technology at the back of the car, Audi’s suspension tweaks have improved handling significantly.
“In general, the new RS 3 is much more agile when driving from the middle of the curve to its end and when accelerating out of the curve,” said Audi Sport racing and development driver, Frank Stippler. “For me, the torque splitter is a quantum leap in terms of agile driving.”
Torque-splitting rear differential reduces understeer
One of the new RS 3’s party tricks is a torque-splitting differential that adjusts power between the rear wheels individually. Under hard cornering, the outside rear wheel typically experiences the heaviest load, and torque adjustment can reduce understeer. Optional Pirelli P Zero “Trofeo R” tires were equipped for the runs, and air pressure was the only adjustment made to the car.
“We don’t have unlimited opportunities to try for a record like this,” said Stippler. “That’s why a little is always necessary on the day when it matters – particularly with respect to tire pressure, because that also affects how the torque splitter functions. We succeeded. It was a triumphant day all around.”
The RS 3 has the fastest compact car time, for now
“I’m proud of the whole team. Everyone worked hard for this day,” said Audi RS 3 Technical Project Leader Marvin Schwätter, when the record time appeared on the board. “When we started development, we didn’t know just how quickly our compact sportscar would really be on the Nordschleife,” he explained. “But over the course of endurance testing, we determined that we could reach very good times and set a new record.”
Even with the Nürburgring compact car record in hand, it’s unlikely that Audi will rest on its laurels. Rivals like Renault and Mercedes-Benz won’t be sitting idly either, because Nordschleife lap records are highly coveted and great for marketing. When the RS 3 is eventually dethroned, it could even be an all-electric Audi of the future taking the crown.