The Enthusiast’s Guide to the Audi RS 3 (8V)

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What is it?

The ultimate expression of the MQB platform, the RS 3 is Audi’s smallest RS model that may actually have one of the biggest bites. Just like their legendary Group B rally cars, it is a turbocharged 5-cylinder beast, but it’s also one you can drive on your daily commute for a very reasonable price. This is one of the hottest cars on the road right now, and it’s easy to see why.

Specs Audi RS 3 (8V)
Vehicle Type Compact Performance Sedan
Model Years 2017+
Production Numbers Ongoing
Engine 2.5L I5 Turbo
Horsepower 400 hp
Torque 354 ft/lbs
Transmission(s) 7-speed DCT
Drivetrain AWD
Weight 3,593 lbs
0-60 mph 3.5 sec
0-100 mph 8.7 sec
¼ Mile 11.9 sec @ 117 mph
Top Speed 155-174 mph (governed)
MPG (US) 19 city / 28 hwy


Prices and Market

New Range: $54,900 (base) to  $73,000 (loaded)

Used Bottom: $47,000 (updated Nov 2018)

Max Depreciation Rate: -13.3% per model year

Outlook:

I don’t think RS 3s are going to drop that far for a while, and even when they do it will be pretty gradual, largely based off of condition, mileage, and when a replacement model comes out after the 8V generation is finished.

For now, though, I see the lightly used RS 3 market being propped up by the brand new S3 market. Let’s be real here, there is no world where an S3 is better than an RS 3 for the same money (unless you just HAVE to have a brand new car for your own psychological reasons), so anyone looking at a new S3 will also be eying a CPO RS 3 if they can find one. Even with a higher interest rate on a used car, the RS 3 is such a massive step above the S3 that I think buyers who can afford it will do it.

Audi isn’t making a huge amount of RS 3s, likely just a few thousand in the US by the end of production (continuing in 2019, but no word for 2020 and on), so supply won’t be nearly as big as demand. That will keep values up. Used RS 3s will be less than equivalently optioned brand new models, but will generally only fall into the higher range of the S3 market. In general, I don’t see RS 3s dropping below $40-45k while on CPO, with some higher mileage outliers dropping into the high $30k range.

Basic Tuning and Modification Potential

*All numbers are based on real-world results from various sources and on 93 pump gas. So many different configurations have been tested on this car with impressive results that there seems to be opportunity to gain power for all types of owners. Whether you’re looking to just add a little and preserve your factory warranty, or if you want to do a bigger turbo and run deep into the 9-second range in the 1/4 mile, the RS3 has a ton to offer in terms of aftermarket upgrades. (more relevant configurations and results will be added as they are published)

  • Stock – 400 bhp (365 whp) | 354 ft/lbs (350 wtq) — *those crank numbers are Audi’s official claims, and are obviously quite conservative. If we estimate with 15% drivetrain loss, the stock figures are more like 430 bhp and 412 ft/lbs.
  • Stock software, Cat-back Exhaust, secondary cat-deletes – ~455 hp (~387 whp) | ~427 ft/lbs (~ 363 wtq)
  • Stage 1 Tune, stock everything else – ~495 bhp (~420 whp) | ~517 ft/lbs (~440 wtq)
  • Stage 1 Tune, Intake, Intercooler – ~535 bhp (~454 whp) | ~527 ft/lbs (~448 wtq)
  • Stage 1 Tune, Intake, Intercooler, Downpipe, E85 – ~588 bhp (~500 whp) | ~588 ft/lbs (~500 wtq)
  • Modified Turbo / Bigger Turbo setup – ~700 bhp + (~600 whp +)

Once you go bigger turbo, the sky and your wallet are the limits. These cars seem to be able to handle some pretty big power.

Known Problems

Expect the typical German car sort of issues with electronics and whatnot. For those going for big power, the limits of the stock hardware are being tested in the field and a clearer picture will emerge of the weak links that exist, and at what level of power.

Opinion

If you know the world of rally-inspired road rockets, STIs, Evos, Focus RS, Golf R, and the like, then you should be able to recognize the RS 3 as the king of that segment. It’s got all of the performance and insane mod potential with the luxury polish on top. In terms of everyday performance cars, the RS 3 is one of the best we’ve ever seen. Especially for the price.

Even bone stock, the RS 3’s performance is staggering. 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds and 0-100mph in 8.7 sec. Those are bonafide supercar numbers (even borderline hypercar numbers) just a few years ago. Yet the car itself is fairly unassuming. Those who know will know, but to most people, it just looks like a common A3. The RS 3 is a serious sleeper.

The biggest thing going for the RS 3 is its 5 cylinder TFSI engine. In a world full of 4 and 6 cylinders, it makes the RS 3 a unique offering, especially when it’s uncorked with an exhaust and other mods. This small sedan sounds like a lot like a Lamborghini Huracan at full chat, and that’s incredible. It’s also capable of getting into the 10’s in the 1/4 mile with just basic mods and tuning, still totally daily drivable, and still on the stock turbo. In terms of accessible real-world performance in a genuinely usable package, not much can touch the RS 3 for any money, let alone for $60 grand.

The only place where I think the RS 3 falls short is that it only comes with Audi’s S tronic dual clutch transmission. There is no manual option, and I know that gripe is kind of played out these days, but for a small enthusiast car, it remains relevant. Being a generally everyday sort of car, I give the RS 3 a pass on this, but it would’ve been that much cooler if they’d at least given us the option of 3 pedals. The manual experience is timeless, whereas paddle shifts wind up feeling more and more dated with each new generation. That’s one reason why the previous-gen (manual only) TT RS is still such a sought after car.

MoM Score: Audi RS 3 (8V)
Primary Function: Driving Experience: 2
Secondary Functions: Luxury(2) Practicality(2) MPG(2): 2
Visual Appeal: 2
Build Quality: 2
Value for Money: 2
Final Score: 10 /10

Upside

  • A small daily sedan with supercar performance
  • Castrating Mustangs
  • Having all of your cake and eating it too while running 10’s or even 9’s
  • Rally experience without the “boy racer” vibe
  • The sound of half a V10 in your life every day
  • Lot’s of value for money (one of the few new cars I’d recommend)
  • Relatively limited production should allow it to hold value in the future

Downside

  • No manual option
  • Curb appeal may be a little understated for some

Videos

 

Photo Gallery

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The Enthusiast’s Guide to the Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.0T (952)

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What is it?

The Giulia is Alfa Romeo’s rival to the benchmark BMW 3 Series. It is a turbocharged sport sedan that brings some much needed Italian style and flavor to this popular segment in the entry-level luxury market.

 

Specs Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.0T (952)
Vehicle Type Midsize Sport Sedan
Model Years 2017+
Production Numbers Ongoing
Engine 2.0L I4 Turbo
Horsepower 280hp
Torque 306 ft/lbs
Transmission(s) 8 Speed Auto
Drivetrain RWD or AWD
Weight 3,600-3,700 lbs
0-60 mph 5.1 sec
0-100 mph 14.1 sec
¼ Mile 14.1 sec @ 100mph
Top Speed 149 mph (governed)
MPG (US) 23/24 city / 31/33 hwy (AWD/RWD)

Driving Impressions

In terms of dynamic driving satisfaction, the Alfa Giulia Ti stands head and shoulders above its direct competition. I’d even go as far as to say it drives better than any of the non-M BMW’s I’ve driven, despite essentially being the equivalent of a 330i. The Alfa accelerates quite briskly but doesn’t quite have the power of a 340i. That said, its handling and the way it connects with the driver is unparalleled by anything south of an M3. In a way that is reminiscent of modern Ferraris the Giulia feels like it connects directly to your brain stem. When the pace is fast, you get the sensation that you’re just thinking your way through the corners rather than piloting a machine that is separate from yourself.

As any true sports car does, the Giulia rewards you for pushing it harder and harder. With the pace it can hold on back roads, 280hp is more than enough to get yourself in some serious trouble if you ever come across the authorities at an inopportune moment. Make no mistake, the Giulia is genuinely a sports car with 4 doors.

One area the Giulia does fall short compared to some of its rivals is in not offering a manual gearbox. This car really would be magic with a slick shifting gear lever in the middle. That said, it does have one of the best paddle shift automatics I’ve experienced in a sport sedan. They really nailed the programming, and it behaves close to the way paddle shifts do in proper exotics. The shifting experience is very engaging, and you don’t just feel like you’re pressing a slightly glorified button like you do in most cars in this segment.

In terms of build quality, the Giulia is nice and its design is beautiful, but it gets out-classed by most of its competition in terms of materials. This is really a car for people who place their major emphasis on the driving experience and are good with everything else so long as it’s “nice enough.”

Read my full review here.

Prices and Market

New Range: $38,000 – $60,000

Used Bottom: $25,000 (updated Nov 2018)

Max Depreciation Rate: -25.5% per model year

Outlook: Values will continue to drop, likely leveling off a bit in the 10-20k range depending on miles and condition. CPO models will likely be in the 18-25k range. The higher you buy, the more you stand to lose, but in exchange, you’ll have a car that is truly enjoyable in ways that its competition is not. An extended warranty is a good idea on this car, and if you’re buying brand new, you should really be smart with your choices of options. (Do be sure to get the sport options, though)

Tuning and Modification Potential (all numbers are entirely approximate)

Stock – 280bhp (~230whp) | 306ft/lbs (~280wtq)

Stock Tune, Intake, Cat-back Exhaust – ~300bhp (~250whp) | ~330ft/lbs (~300wtq)

Stage 1 Tune, Intake, Cat-back Exhaust – ~360bhp (~300whp) | ~390ft/lbs (~340wtq)

Stage 2 Tune, Intake, Turbo-back Exhaust – Rumored 400bhp+

Known Problems

Any Italian car needs to be purchased with a realistic set of expectations. It will not be a Lexus, but it also may not be as bad as you think.

Most of the problems with these cars you’ll find were early on in their production in 2017, and most of them have been solved with software updates. Fiat-Chrysler models seem to require a lot of software troubleshooting and updates to really get things right during the first year of production, but once those updates are implemented things go much more smoothly. Because of this, you should make sure to keep your car’s software up to date at the dealer, making an appointment every few months.

Long term, I don’t think the Giulia 2.0T will be any worse than its German rivals in terms of running costs.

Opinion

The Italians have given us a proper Italian-style sport sedan. For a lot of better, and maybe just a little bit of worse. The Giulia is really an enthusiast-focused machine, and those buying one with an enthusiast mindset will be much happier with it than those who buy one just wanting a mere car.

MoM Score: Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.0T
Primary Function: Driving Experience: 2
Secondary Functions: Luxury(1) Practicality(2) MPG(2): 2
Visual Appeal: 2
Build Quality: 1
Value for Money: 2
Final Score: 9 /10

Upside

  • Driving pleasure
  • It’s like Ferrari made a BMW 330i (supposedly their engineers did help develop the Giulia platform)
  • Good looks
  • Serious style points
  • Tunable
  • Something you’ll look forward to every single day
  • You can say “I drive an Alfa Romeo” and that will either be a non-starter or a door opener.

Downside

  • No manual tranny
  • It may spend more time in the shop than other cars (historically, at least)
  • Heavy depreciation if you buy brand new

Photo Gallery

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Ferrari Testarossa at Radwood Philly

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Thanks to Miami Vice, the Testarossa is widely seen as the king of 80’s cars. It is a magnificent monument of excess and it redefined the style of the era. Just look at all of the gaudy body kits that came out back then, and how they all like to copy the Testarossa’s side slats.

A flat 12 engine with a gated manual gearbox and looks that absolutely slay, what could be better for Radwood than this?

Continue reading Ferrari Testarossa at Radwood Philly

Want a cheap Range Rover? Not after watching this, you won’t.

Range Rovers may be great when they’re new, but buy a used one, and the phrase “buyer beware” takes on a new and very sinister meaning. Here, Tyler Hoover, aka “Hoovie” of Hoovie’s Garage gives us the quick and dirty reasons why you should run away as fast as possible from old Range Rovers unless you know what you’re doing.

-Albert S. Davis

A Fall Drive in the STI

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I don’t have much to say, mostly just the photos I shot. But the STI was finally running well again, so I took it out for a Fall drive on Sunday. It was like spending time with an old friend after a long time apart.

Continue reading A Fall Drive in the STI

Podcast: Comparing Camaros, Classic vs Contemporary

Having recent seat time in both a ’69 Camaro SS 396 and two Gen6 Camaro SS 1LEs, I wanted to compare the Camaro experience between generations that are 50 years apart.

Review in the video, gallery below. Enjoy!

Continue reading Podcast: Comparing Camaros, Classic vs Contemporary

The two most colorful GM products at Hershey? Of course!

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Bright red doesn’t work on every car, and until last month I wouldn’t have put it as a good color on a 1966 Toronado. I also wouldn’t have put yellow up as a good color on a 1977 Firebird, but combined with the Formula appearance package, it works like a charm. I’m glad I was there to shoot these two, however briefly it was. Hopefully they make a repeat appearance at Hershey next year. Continue reading The two most colorful GM products at Hershey? Of course!

Bugatti EB110 GT at Liberty State Park

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The Bugatti EB110 is a magnificent machine, so far ahead of its time. I mean, back in the early 1990s this thing had a 552hp 3.5L quad-turbo V12 and sent its power to all four wheels. It was capable of 213 mph, which made it arguably the fastest production car on the planet in 1991.

All I know is this thing would absolutely kill at Radwood if the owner was ever inspired to bring it out for that event.

I’ve only seen two of these in person and this one is in much better condition than the other. It was quite a thrill to get to shoot this EB110 up close with NYC in the background at the Driven By Purpose Event in Liberty State Park.

Enjoy the photos!

Continue reading Bugatti EB110 GT at Liberty State Park

1974 Pontiac GTO at the 2018 AACA Hershey Fall Meet

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If there was an ugly duckling year for the Pontiac GTO, this would be it. No longer a trim level of the midsize Lemans series, the GTO was moved to an embarrassing option package on the compact Ventura two-door coupe and hatchback. What was once the original muscle car and Pontiac’s ace in the hole had turned into a weird looking bug-eyed car that got less credit than it should have. This retina-scorched yellow example is the first 1974 model I’ve seen that wasn’t in a book, and with its very Mid-Seventies interior, is one of very few left like it. I liked the Shaker hood too–an unusual option for even that year. Enjoy the photos of this strange historical footnote in Pontiac history. Continue reading 1974 Pontiac GTO at the 2018 AACA Hershey Fall Meet

Koenigsegg Agera XS spotted in traffic in Paramus, NJ

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Not every day you see the fastest car in the world on the street. Sure, this was right outside the Cars and Caffe show, but capturing an epic seven-figure hypercar like this amongst normal traffic is nothing short of surreal. Respect to the owners for really getting out and driving these cars.

-Nick

Podcast: Is the McLaren Speedtail Really the F1’s Successor?

McLaren’s new hypercar is quite striking, but is it really worthy of being hailed as the sole successor in one of the most-royal automotive bloodlines? Let’s look at what this is vs. what the McLaren F1 was and see where that puts things.

-Nick Walker

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