2022 Audi RS3 Makes Its U.S. Debut, Packing A 5-Cylinder Turbo, Torque-Vectoring And A Drift Mode

Audi's pocket rocket sedan gets even crazier specs

2022 Audi RS 3
Meet the U.S.-spec 2022 Audi RS3, shown here in Kyalami green. (Images: Audi)

Audi claims this new RS3 can make the 0-60 sprint in 3.8 seconds.

Even if you’re not into the sport sedan game, you still have to acknowledge Audi’s compact monster at least for the on-paper specs. Now, this 2022 Audi RS3 brings the model into its second generation, complete with styling and tech updates as well as — you guessed it — even better performance specs. But that’s not the entire story, as the German automaker’s keen to point out some of its features for more sideways-inclined drivers.

The new Audi RS3 debuts as both a five-door hatchback and a sedan, though we’re still only getting the four-door version over here. On the flip side of the disappointment token, at least the development team saw fit to crank 401 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque out of its hallmark 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-five engine. That’s more than the previous generation’s 394 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque, respectively. We were seriously hoping Audi wouldn’t lop off one of the cylinders in the continued pursuit of downsizing, but they are indeed sticking with the unique five-cylinder layout here. That engine cranks out its power to all four wheels by way of a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.

What about 0-60 time in the 2022 Audi RS3? Audi says that’s down to a scant 3.8 seconds.

Performance changes: Torque vectoring and drift mode

Outside, the new RS3 isn’t night-and-day different from the old one. You get a nicely contrasting gloss black grille, new headlights and taillights, a freshened up singleframe grille with aggressive-looking intakes and some large exhaust pipes out back. The best touch, in my mind, to the 2022 Audi RS3 is the distinctive Kyalami green color. At least, if you’re a fan of green. If you’re not, the other new color is a more neutral Kemora gray, with or without a contrasting black roof.

Under the skin is where Audi made some more tangible changes. That includes the new RS Torque Splitter, which drops the old Haldex system’s rear axle differential and multi-disc clutch package in favor of a setup with electronically-controlled multi-disc clutches on each of the driveshafts. That way the power doesn’t just go from front to rear, but the car can load up an individual rear wheel with all the power if that’s what is needed. In fact, the 2022 Audi RS3 has a drift-ready drive mode called “RS Torque Rear” made specifically to fire all the power at the rear wheels.

With more grunt comes the need for more stopping power, and the 2022 Audi RS3 delivers there too. Larger, six-piston steel brakes come standard, while ceramic brakes are available as an option. Audi’s RS sport suspension plus with adaptive dampers is also available, while you can also get Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R if you’re really aiming for a track machine.

2022 Audi RS 3

Interior updates

Audi didn’t leave the old RS3 in the lurch on interior tech, so the new car focuses on improving the formula. You still get Audi’s 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit display as standard equipment. A 10.1-inch infotainment display is integrated a bit more classily into the dashboard, while the horizontal HVAC vents stretch across the entire dash, replacing the old circular units.

Depending on what you fancy, you can also get one of two available steering wheels. The standard unit is a flat-bottom affair. But, if you don’t want that, you can get a round wheel with capacitive grip recognition that works with the assisted steering functions. Stick with the flat-bottom wheel and spec the Design Package, and you’ll get a colored stripe at the 12-o’clock position. Whichever version you pick, Audi fits a new RS button that swaps over into the RS Performance or RS Individual drive modes.

The 2022 Audi RS3 will hit U.S. dealers in early 2022. Pricing isn’t available just yet, but don’t be surprised to see at least a modest bump on the old car’s $56,200 starting MSRP.

Or, if that is a bit too much cash for your budget, you’ll also be able to get the less powerful (but still all-wheel drive) Volkswagen Golf R hot hatch: