The taut, lively 2017 Audi RS 3 played foil to its larger S4 stablemate at this year’s All-Stars roundup, proving that a well-focused fighter can be a more gratifying weapon than a jack-of-all-trades multitool.
“This seemed a quintessential sport sedan,” design editor Robert Cumberford stated. “The cabin was spacious enough, but the package was tidy and restrained, making it a believable vehicle with not too much pretense.”
Those uncannily honest underpinnings made the RS 3 a joy to toss around the slithering uphill passes along Mount Charleston and a pleasure to fling around at Speedvegas.
Despite the general affection for the RS 3’s crisp personality, some believed its performance mission was out of step with its sedan layout, citing a lack of rear legroom, a stiff ride, and a relatively loud cabin as unfortunate side effects of its focused purpose. Still others argued that a hatchback layout, like the prior-generation A3’s, might have been a more sensible configuration. And then there was the issue of price.
While some saw the RS 3’s packaging as clean and efficient, others couldn’t escape the opposing forces of its compact footprint and not so compact as-tested premium of $66,775. “That sticker is pretty stiff,” said editor-at-large Arthur St. Antoine, with contributor Chris Nelson chiming in that the price was “pretty darn steep … I don’t know if the juice is worth the squeeze, as enjoyable as squeezing may be.”
In spite of its minor shortcomings, this car offers compelling dynamics and a distinctly pointy performance edge that adds another arrow to the RS subbrand’s quiver. Compelling enough to make the 2017 Audi RS 3 a 2018 Automobile All-Star? Find out on Saturday, March 10, when we announce the winners at the 2018 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance—and right here on automobilemag.com.
2017 Audi RS 3 2.5T quattro S tronic Specifications
|PRICE||$55,450/$66,775 (base/as tested)|
|ENGINE||2.5L DOHC 20-valve turbo I-5/400 hp @ 5,850-7,000 rpm, 354 lb-ft @ 1,700-5,850 rpm|
|TRANSMISSION||7-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD sedan|
|EPA MILEAGE||19/28 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||176.3 x 77.2 x 55.0 in|
|0-60 MPH||3.9 sec|
|TOP SPEED||174 mph (w/ Dynamic Plus package)|