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.
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.
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]
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.
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