The Audi RS3 Performance Gives Europeans What Americans Have Enjoyed All Along

Audi RS3 Performance pulling a mad skid

This is the Audi RS3 Performance and like Burger King, it brings something America enjoys quite a bit to Europe. See, Europe has fairly strict emissions and noise requirements that have muzzled the RS3. American models are simply louder and more powerful, meaning that America gets the good version for once. However, Audi’s been hard at work in its lab and has cooked up a zestier RS3 for a handful of lucky Europeans.

Static Photo, Colour: Arrow Gray, Pearl Effect
Photo credit: Audi

Let’s start with power. Horsepower jumps to 401, matching the output America’s received since launch despite still meeting all the mandatory European emissions and noise requirements. What’s more, the torque plateau is 100 rpm wider, present between 2,250 rpm and 5,700 rpm. Audi has needed to raise boost pressure by a minuscule 1.45 psi to achieve this, but the results are larger than just a slight power jump. The tweaks let the RS3 Performance pull all the way to a top speed of 186 mph (300 km/h), properly fast car territory in 2022.

RS3 Performance front wheel
Photo credit: Audi

Power can get a bit sketchy without control, so Audi’s made some tweaks in order to keep the RS3 performance gripped up. The biggest change over a standard car is a set of reverse-staggered Pirelli Trofeo R semi-slick tires, 265 mm wide up front and 245 mm wide out back. I’m glad to see the Pontiac Grand Prix GXP actually has a performance legacy, plus Trofeo Rs should be plenty sticky. In addition, Audi’s thrown in carbon ceramic brakes on the front axle. These pricey stoppers that are optional on the standard RS3 shave 22 pounds of unsprung weight off of the RS3 Performance. Imagine taking 22 pounds of pennies out of your socks, that’s what unsprung weight reduction feels like. [Editor’s Note: That’s about $39.82 worth of pennies! – JT]

Cockpit
Photo credit: Audi

Audis are typically subtle cars, so the RS3 Performance doesn’t have a whole lot of visual tweaks to let passers-by know it’s special. Still, little alterations are there if you know when and where to look. Upon opening the door, the matrix daytime running lights briefly display 300 in the driver’s headlamp and a checkered flag in the right headlamp. Black badging is also on deck, while a special set of mesh 19-inch alloy wheels feature some nice concavity and retro vibes. On the inside, carbon-backed bucket seats should hold the driver and front passenger in snugly, while the Alcantara steering wheel features a blue noon marker.

RS3 Performance on track
Photo credit: Audi

Production of this special Audi is limited to 300 units and unless you live in Europe, you won’t be able to get one. Mind you, that’s not a huge deal for Americans. Save for cosmetic bits and the 300 km/h top speed, the American RS3 is plenty powerful and loud to go toe-to-toe with this special edition. Plus, Americans have it better than Canadians – the land of maple syrup doesn’t get the latest RS3 at all.

Lead photo credit: Audi

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8 Responses

  1. I really want to love the RS3. On paper it’s pretty much everything I could want in a daily other than a hatch (cries in ‘Murican)…and it’s a proper rocket ship. Hagerty did a great video recently where they pitted it against V10 sports car icons from the past 20 years and it kept up with an LFA and a Carrera GT, which is just nuts for a sedan that can be had for about 60k.

    But for some reason the styling just doesn’t work for me. I think the S3 is a better looking car overall because the front end is much less busy…and to be honest I don’t think the RS3 colors are great either. The slime green is too juvenile. The assorted grays make it look like a run of the mill A3. There are some blues, but just…blah.

    The dark metallic green the SQ5 and other RS models come in would be great, but alas. I also wish you could delete some of the front end nonsense…the gaping maw just isn’t an attractive look on anything…and at the end of the day it’s still an economy car at its core. Don’t get me wrong…MQB is a great platform, but 60k for one? I just don’t know, man.

    For this much scratch I’d go M2 (is it THAT much less usable than a tiny sedan?) or get a similarly potent German car in a more practical package…like an X3 M40i. The IS500 is also sitting right there, and so are secondhand M550is, which provide the V8 answer to this question.

    1. Honestly Audi has the best gaping maw in the biz. I hate the way it’s been extended and is now growing underneath the headlights though. Not a good look. Reminiscent of all the black plastic used on cheap ass Cavaliers and CUV’s.

      1. With some trimming and slightly higher temps I’m sure you could find a way to make the S3 bumper fit if that really is what is stopping you. I mean these can be over 1k hp with a build and be approaching 1.5k if you wanna get wild. I know two owners and admit it would be a dream car of mine if only it had three pedals and a longer roof, but that would sell to exactly 20 people. Then again the rs6 avant has sold here a bit and it is dumb money and auto only.

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