Audi RS3 Is Part of a Sport Compact Car Revival

Dan Smith

I came of age in the decaying world of cars. We saw the Integra become the RSX and eventually the ILX. I saw Eclipse disappear. RX-7 dies, 3000GT dies, Z dies, Supra dies, and even Chevrolet can no longer maintain an upside-down bathtub called Camaro. was full of Something was wrong with Audi.

Welcome to Performance Car of the Year 2023. This year, we'll run a breakout story on each of the 10 contenders twice weekly until the full comparison is published the third week of January. Let's get into it.

It was interesting in that we saw Audi's highest point, or at least one of its peaks. At the turn of the millennium, we American got his B5 Audi S4. Weighing around 3,384 pounds, it had a 30-valve V-6 twin-turbo, a 2.7-liter displacement and his now nostalgic 250 horsepower. Automatic or 6-speed manual was up to you, but it was all about quattro all-wheel drive. For a long time, when you could buy a Subaru WRX or a Mitsubishi Evo, the car seemed noisy. (How innocent we all were.) Then, for a long time, I was coveted.

The problem was that Audi kept making better and better sports sedans. The once compact sedan has become a comfortable midsize, the 30-valve V-6 he has become a 40-valve V-8, and the car that was somewhat youthful has become quite an adult. It wasn't the sense of loss you get when a car like the Supra is gone. What we saw in real time was a slow, steady decline.

I never imagined myself driving an S4, but Audi denied the possibility of making it faster and less approachable. I liked the idea of ​​the S4 as a kind of final boss for the sport compact. The S4 was the fastest sports compact car, the most complex sports compact car, the most luxurious sports compact car, but it was essentially a compact car. It was one step above the ladder that started with Honda and Nissan SE-R. As S4 grew, this connection was lost. As I grew up, it lost its charm.

I think Audi knows they've lost something with the central figure. He ditched his naturally aspirated V-8 and reverted to his twin-turbo V-6, saving hundreds of pounds from the latest generation. But that didn't solve the problem. It was getting too big.

And Audi gave America the RS3! That was it! That's all you need! A little car with a boosted engine offers a bit of a dream that one day it might step up from a little unboosted car and one day graduate to something grander We got the last generation RS3 here in the US in 2017, got this new 2022 model in late 2021 and have been selling it in Europe since 2020. This is part of his VW's larger MQB architecture, in this case he's called the MQB Evo, so it's a very flashy Golf to some extent. That said, it's about as far along the family tree as the Audi Q6 and Volkswagen Transporter. Make all these comparisons as much as possible.

Either way, we've put this brand new RS3 up for Performance Car of the Year. Was good! We all liked it!

The engine is still on the line between normal and strange, this time with an inline five rather than a V-6 with five valves per cylinder. The sound is great, the power is strong and satisfying, even if it sounds a bit synthetic. The car drives better than any Audi. The engine is transversely mounted, side by side instead of front and rear in the old Audi.

We're on track with this thing, and as hard as it may be to imagine, it's been fun! You won't get tired of holding the steering wheel of the car. And for such an angry-faced vehicle, it drives with a lot of humor. This is no rocket sled, no road rocket, no typical Audi stereotype of the era when the iron block engine hung in front of the front wheels and resisted all movement of the steering wheel. This her RS3 is very agile for a car that weighs in at 3639 pounds for her, and very good for a vehicle this slightly undersized.

It was quick on the road, but not just in straight lines. One of the winding sections of the drive through the Catskills, not a highway detour, and even one of the hairy sections when the rain curtain turns the asphalt into glass that you got it I was happy to

Audi is back to making desirable small cars. Beyond that, we've spent a few years in the renaissance of the sport compact car in general. Joining the RS3 are Toyota with Turbo AWD, Subaru with Turbo AWD, Honda with Turbo Front Drive and Hyundai with Turbo Front Drive. We also got a new turbo Nissan Z for those who were mourning the glory days of the 300ZX.

I don't know what happened to the auto industry, especially Audi, or the resurgence of this kind of car. I mean, I still saw the long Audi 5000 Avant driving slowly down the tree-lined streets near campus. I actually remember a house that had two in the driveway. I checked Google Street View and there were two Audi crossovers sitting there. Audi is not the car company it once was. At least here in America, it's an SUV company. After years of successfully buying Q8s and SQ5s, I don't know why some executives decided it made sense to nationalize the rowdiest compact sedan. I'm glad they did.

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