The Audi A3 is offered as a sedan, convertible, or 5-door Sportback. Power comes from a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder with 220 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The Audi A3 sends power to all four wheels via quattro all-wheel drive, though front-wheel-drive versions are available as well. A high-performance version of this same engine powers the Audi S3, where it makes 292 horsepower--enough to go from 0 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds. The RS3 comes only as an all-wheel drive sedan, and is powered by a 2.5L turbocharged 5-cylinder engine that makes an almost-unbelievable 400 horsepower.
Finally, the A3 Sportback e-tron hybrid utilizes an electric motor that makes 102 horsepower and 243 lb-ft of torque, plus a 1.4L turbocharged gasoline engine capable of 150 horsepower. When combined, the two powerplants make 204 horsepower, making it one of the most powerful hybrids available. The Sportback e-tron can drive on purely electric power for about 17 miles.
The Audi A3 is available in three trim levels: Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige. The Premium trim includes leather seating with heated front seats, a panoramic glass sunroof, bi-xenon automatic headlights, power adjustable side mirrors with integrated LED turn signals, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 12-way power adjustable driver's seat, rearview camera and parking sensors, "Alu-optic" interior trim, heated mirrors and washer nozzles, twin USB power/data ports, and a 10-speaker sound system with a 3-month subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio.
A convenience package adds keyless start, stop and entry, as well as Audi's music interface and better smartphone integration. The sport package on the other hand, adds sportier front seat, a driving mode selector and a flat bottom steering wheel with shift paddles. A sport suspension is also available that reduces the ride height by 15 mm.
The Premium Plus trim adds 18-inch wheels, aluminum interior accents, Audi side assist, a Bang & Olufsen sound system, and keyless entry. The Prestige package, meanwhile, includes everything in Premium Plus, as well as an S-line exterior body kit, a navigation system, Audi connect and LED headlights.
Option packages on the Premium Plus include a technology package that features Audi Connect PRIME and PLUS, a navigation system, Audi's side assist system with rear traffic alert and what Audi calls their "virtual cockpit," which is a digital display in the instrument cluster featuring a view of the road ahead as well as plenty of relevant driving information.
The RS3 is, in its way, a separate beast. Besides the tremendous engine, the RS3 comes with a unique red-stitched Nappa leather interior as well as 19" 5-arm wheels, full LED headlamps, RS-specific fascias and diffuser and magnetic ride suspension.
Safety features on all the A3 models include anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control and a tire pressure monitoring system. Airbags include advanced driver and passenger front airbags, knee airbags, thorax side airbags as well as side curtain airbags. An anti-theft alarm system comes standard, while Active Lane Assist, Audi Pre-Sense automatic braking and adaptive cruise control are all optional on the A3 Prestige.
After years of being, Audi's RS3 has finally made its way to the US. However, rather than the that we've been lusting after from afar, our RS3 is an angry-but-cute, high-powered sedan. Beggars can't be choosers, I suppose.
Having lived with the 2018 RS3 sedan for a while now, I've started to care less and less about the silhouette. The excellent performance it offers is just that good. Plus, the aggressive little subcompact is packing some of the best cabin tech in the business.
Beneath all of the go-faster bits and styling upgrades, the RS3 is just an A3 (duh), so it still offers all of the awesome tech that we've come to love from Audi.
The Good The RS3's five-cylinder engine and sport exhaust delivers 400 horsepower with a tremendous sound. The standard adaptive suspension balances a firm, responsive ride without being punishing when commuting. Audi's MMI and Virtual Cockpit tech present a flexible and capable combined infotainment interface.
The Bad There's a bit of turbo lag when launching. Paying this much for a subcompact is hard bullet to bite.
The Bottom Line It's a pricey proposition, but the 2018 Audi RS3 sedan's balance of race-ready performance, daily-drivable comfort and best-in-class tech is hard to match.
Just as Audi's new RS Q E-Tron rally car hits the dirt for its first tests.
There's also a $7,500 federal tax credit up for grabs, if you're eligible.
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