2022 Audi RS 3 Proves the Brand is Committed to Entry-Level Performance

Audi is recommitting to entry-level sportiness with the 2022 Audi RS 3. It's the vehicle the company wants to sell buyers first, before going on to more expensive models.

First released to the U.S. market in 2018, the track-ready variant of the A3 sedan is currently entering its second generation. The company has made a number of exterior changes, including widening the front bumper and redesigning the grille with a honeycomb structure. Larger air intakes appear on the flanks.

Matrix LED headlights are now standard with digital daytime running lights. A checkered flag pattern illuminates as a daytime running light that stays active below both headlamps while driving.

The rear bumper has been redesigned with motorsport in mind, which includes a new diffuser and RS-specific exhaust system. The flap control is fully variable for exhaust note customization and tailpipes mark both the left and right end.

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The RS 3 comes with 19-inch cast aluminum wheels as are standard, with a 10-Y-spoke design. The optional Carbon package nets the driver carbon fiber mirror housings, rear spoiler, and side sill inlays.

A turbocharged five-cylinder engine and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission continue to motivate the RS 3, making 401 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque.

The company says that it has improved stability and overall driving dynamics with the RS Torque Splitter, which is an electronically-controlled multiplate clutch system on each drive shaft that enables the Torque Splitter to vary torque at the rear variably between the two sides.

Five drive modes run the gamut of everyday driving to spirited track sessions, with Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, RS Torque Rear and RS Performance. RS Torque Rear sends all the power to the back wheels for rear-drive dynamics.

The new RS 3 has a zero to 60 time of 3.6 seconds, shaving off 0.3 from the previous generation. Top track speed is electronically limited in the U.S to 180 miles per hour.

Standard RS Sport suspension plus with dynamic chassis control (DCC) sits the car lower than the S3 or A3 by about an inch to evoke a closer connection to the track.

The DCC continuously provides adjustments based on road conditions, the selected driving mode, driving situations and a multitude of other factors.

Newly developed front steel brakes increase cooling by 20 percent due to integrated airflow guides in the bumper and undercarriage, according to Audi.

On the inside, performance metrics and driver engagement are at the forefront. A 12.3-inch virtual cockpit shows the driver a number of stats, including lap times, g-forces, and quarter-mile times. A separate 10.1-inch infotainment screen can also display figures like oil temperatures and tire pressure.

The front sport seats are leather-wrapped with RS embossing and RS-specific honeycomb stitching.An optional RS design package adds a number of green accents throughout the cabin, including the seat shoulders, floor mats, air vents and seatbelts.

The 2022 Audi RS 3 is expected to go on sale this summer starting at $58,900.

Cross shopping the RS 3 might lead buyers to the 2022 BMW M3, a popular choice for enthusiasts, which starts at $70,100. Those who want to stick to a tighter budget would do well to consider the 2022 Hyundai Elantra N, which has a base price of $32,150, or the 2023 Honda Civic Type R, which is slated to go on sale this summer though no pricing details have been released.