The RS badge has always signalled the top-performing Audi models. The recently-announced 2022 Audi RS 3 is no different. Now with over 400 horsepower and claims of zero to 100 kilometres per hour (km/h) in just 3.8 seconds and a top track speed limited to 250 km/h, the RS sits atop the redesigned A3 compact lineup for the 2022 model year.
“With the second generation of the Audi RS 3, we now offer premium sports cars that are suitable for everyday use,” says Sebastian Grams, Managing Director of Audi Sport GmbH. “They represent the entry point into our RS world and, thanks to the torque splitter, the ultimate in outstanding performance in the compact segment.”
As per the 2022 A3 and S3 trims, the RS 3 will only come as a 5-passenger, 4-door compact sedan. Audi Canada has decided not to bring in the hatchback versions available in other markets.
Standing out from its lesser A3 and S3 compact luxury sedan siblings, the new 2022 Audi RS 3 features muscular fenders from the outside. It adds a much more prominent grille with a slot above it. Larger air intakes frame the sides. A pair of huge tailpipes, a subtle lip spoiler, and a rear diffuser set it aside from the back.
One cool, new feature: As the driver approaches with the key, the optional LED headlights will spell out “R-S-3” before reverting to a checkered flag pattern.
Another potentially entertaining new driving feature for 2022 is the RS 3’s astonishing trick differential—the first Audi model that comes standard-equipped with a torque splitter. It replaces the rear axle differential and the previous multiple disc clutch package on the rear axle. The design involves a multiple-disc clutch on each drive shaft, allowing it to shift up to 100% of the vehicle’s torque to either rear wheel. Adjustable settings let the driver use this to sharpen grip in the corners or loosen it. There’s even a drift mode.
Newly developed 6-piston steel brakes bring the new RS 3 to a stop. Optional ceramic brakes come with their own specially designed brake pedal. Buyers who choose the ceramic option can choose red, blue, or grey callipers.
Inside the 2022 Audi RS 3, well-bolstered sport seats and a flat-bottom steering wheel announce the car’s sporting intentions. Unless that is, you check the box for the optional round steering wheel with capacitive touch buttons. Or the Porsche-style steering wheel with a bright 12 o’clock marking. The driver’s instrument display—an unusually large one for a small car—can display g-forces, lap times, and quarter-mile times.
What’s the same?
As in the past, the Audi RS 3 distinguishes itself by using a turbocharged 2.5-litre inline-5-cylinder engine—compared to the turbocharged 2.0-litre 4 cylinder engines found in its lesser A3 and S3 siblings. As noted, the new RS 3’s engine gets a horsepower boost to 401 horsepower, up from 394.
The only transmission offered shifts for you—a 7-speed, dual-clutch gearbox. It’s all-wheel drive, of course. This is Audi we’re talking about.
When will it go on sale?
While the new 2022 Audi A3 and S3 compact luxury sedans are scheduled to go on sale in Canada later in 2021, expect the high-performance RS 3 not to arrive until early 2022.
How much will it cost?
Starting Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Prices in Canadian dollars for the $38,900 2022 Audi A3 and $47,900 S3 have been posted on the Audi Canada website. But the automaker has not announced pricing for the top-line RS 3. The last edition of the car (the 2020, as Audi didn’t release a 2021 version) carried a starting price of $65,600.