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|
|Engine||2.5L I5 Turbo|
|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
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)
- Stage 2 Tune, Intake, Intercooler, Full Cat-delete Downpipe, 93 octane – ~542 bhp (~461 whp) | ~546 ft/lbs (~464 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.
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.
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
- 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
- No manual option
- Curb appeal may be a little understated for some
One thought on “The Enthusiast Buyer’s Guide to the Audi RS 3 (8V)”
Really like your new review format! Easy to read and packed with information!