For Audi nerds, the arrival of the Audi RS 3 2018 on U.S. shores is a big deal. This fire-breathing compact sedan has until now been forbidden fruit, with sales limited to overseas markets. The first handful of RS 3s arriving will bear a 2017 model designation and is identical to the 2018 model.
The RS 3 is what happens when you fortify Audi’s class-leading A3 entry-level luxury sedan with a 400-horsepower turbocharged five-cylinder engine. Naturally, the brakes and suspension have been upgraded to match, and most of the A3 and S3’s optional equipment has been made standard on the RS 3.
It’s Audi’s answer to the Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA 45 and the terrific BMW M2; both potent performers in their own rights. The RS 3 is philosophically much closer to the Benz, with its transverse engine layout and all-wheel drive, while the BMW takes a more classic rear-drive approach. One thing’s for sure — this is the kind of rivalry we can get behind.
Although a limited number of Audi RS 3s were sold as 2017 models, 2018 is essentially the first year for the RS 3 in the United States. It’s an all-new, high-performance variant of the A3 entry-level compact luxury sedan.