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Audi S3 vs. Audi RS3: Why Everyone Wants the Latter

January 21, 2019

Audi S3 vs Audi RS3 - Why Everyone Wants the Latter

Hero Image Credit: audi-mediacenter.com

If you’ve thought about buying the high-performance Audi S3 sedan/hatchback, you’ve probably also given some thought to buying the superior Audi RS3. As luxury high-performance cars go, both the Audi S3 and Audi RS3 are legends in their own rights. Both cars blend luxury, style, technology, and performance in ways that few other competing cars can match. They may not be as big as the likes of the S5/RS5 or S7/RS7, but they still offer truly compelling performance; hence, as the saying goes, “good things come in small packages”. The Audi RS3 has always enjoyed much more fanfare than the Audi S3; whether that extra attention is deserved is what we’re going to find out.


Both the S3 and RS3 boast sporty and aggressively styled exteriors, but the RS3 looks a tad more daring. While the S3 features a Platinum Gray Singleframe® grille with Aluminum-optic double blade bars and "S3" badging, the RS3 features a black honeycomb grille with "S3" badging and ‘quattro’ lettering on its lower end. The RS3 also features additional black honeycomb detailing on the front fascia. In the rear, both models feature a rear diffuser and a performance-inspired rear bumper. The S3 also features quad exhaust outlets while the RS3 features unique oval exhaust outlets. In addition, the S3 comes fitted with 18-inch alloy wheels with a 5-parallel-spoke design, but it can also be had with optional 19-inch alloy wheels. The RS3, on the other hand, comes fitted with 19-inch, 5-arm-blade alloy wheels.


The interiors of both the S3 and RS3 are sleek, sophisticated and luxurious. The S3 features standard leather seating surfaces with "S" embossing and contrast stitching, and it also features brushed aluminum inlays. The RS3 kicks it up a notch with upgraded fine Nappa leather seating surfaces with "RS" embossing, red interior accents, the Audi virtual cockpit, front S sport seats with red contrast diamond stitching and extendable thigh support, available RS Carbon inlays, and much more. Therefore, the interior of the RS3 looks somewhat sportier and more luxurious.

Suspension and Handling

Both the S3 and RS3 come equipped with a MacPherson strut front suspension with lower wishbones and a four-link rear suspension with a separate spring/shock absorber arrangement; but, the RS3 adds Audi Magnetic ride. Audi Magnetic ride uses tiny magnetic particles to create a magnetic field within the shock absorber, its purpose being to adjust the firmness of the shocks within fractions of a second as driving conditions change. As a result, the RS3 delivers firmer, sharper handling with less body roll. Audi Magnetic ride is also available as an option in the S3.

Also worth noting is that both the S3 and RS3 come equipped with Audi’s Quattro® all-wheel drive system. This system is designed to help improve road grip and overall control by sending more power and torque to the wheels when it senses understeer, oversteer, or wheel slippage. As a result, both of these cars always feel quite planted on the road.  

Audi S3 vs Audi RS3 - Why Everyone Wants the Latter Suspension and Handling

Image Credit: autocar.co.nz

Engine and Transmission

Here is where the most significant difference between these two cars is. The latest Audi S3 comes equipped with a 2.0-litre TFSI® 4-cylinder engine that generates 228kW (310 horsepower) at 5800 – 6500 rpm and 380 Nm (280.3 lb.-ft.) of torque at 1850 – 5700 rpm. The latest RS3, on the other hand, boasts a 2.5-litre TFSI® 5-cylinder engine that serves up 294 kW (400 horsepower) at 5850 – 7000 rpm and 480 Nm (354.0 lb.-ft.) of torque at 1700 - 5850 rpm. The S3’s engine pairs with either a standard 6-speed manual transmission or an optional 7-speed dual-clutch transmission that facilitates quick gear shifts, while helping to improve fuel efficiency. The RS3’s engine only pairs with the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. In terms of engine sounds, the RS3 takes the cake. The S3’s engine sounds kind-of sporty but is toned down, while the RS3 gives off a deeper, more pronounced roar with pops and growls.  

In terms of fuel economy, the Audi S3 boasts ratings of up to 9.1L/100 km in the city and 5.8L/100 km on the highway when equipped with its standard 225/40 R18 92Y, HM4 tires. The Audi RS3, on the other hand, delivers ratings of 11.3L/100 km in the city and 6.6L/100 km on the highway when equipped with its standard 235/35 R19 91Y XL tires. Therefore, the fuel economy of the RS3 doesn’t differ much from that of the S3; it’s still quite good. 


The S3 can sprint from zero to 100km/h in 4.6 seconds while the RS3 requires just 4.1 seconds to achieve the same feat. This difference may seem small but it is quite noticeable in real-world driving. The RS3 literally outpaces the S3 without breaking a sweat. Also worth noting is that both the S3 and RS3 can hit a top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph), but this top speed can be increased to 280 km/h (174 mph) in the RS3 upon request.

Final Considerations

There are people who argue that instead of buying the significantly more expensive RS3, you should just tune and modify the S3 and its output will increase even up to 400 horsepower like the RS3. Undoubtedly, you can mod the S3 and crank up its power significantly, even up to 400 horsepower, but there is no denying the fact that the S3’s engine can never be a match for the RS3’s five-cylinder monster. If you were to give the RS3’s engine just a stage 1 or stage 2 tune, you would crank up the RS3’s output to levels that the S3 would never be able to match. Therefore, all things considered, the Audi RS3 is really the better car. Whether its significantly higher price tag is worth the investment, however, is totally up to you.

When you buy the Audi S3 or RS3, you should also consider getting a body kit for it because both of them take to body kits very well. You can get high quality Audi S3/RS3 body kits at AusBody Works. We at AusBody Works have partnered with top-rated body kit manufacturers and sellers, so you are assured of the highest quality body kits. Our Audi S3/RS3 body kits are also affordably priced.

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