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Sunday Drive: Audi RS 3 is hidden gem of a sedan

By Craig and Deanne Conover - Daily Herald | Apr 8, 2023
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The new Audi RS 3 in python yellow.
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The new Audi RS 3 in python yellow.
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The new Audi RS 3 in python yellow.
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The cockpit of the new Audi RS 3.
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The interior of the new Audi RS 3.
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The interior of the new Audi RS 3.

It’s not often that we will go back a model year in our test drives, but when the chance to get into a 2022 Audi RS 3 presented itself, it was an easy choice to make. Starting at just $58,900, this Audi is one of the best ways to get into an entry-level sport sedan at a more affordable price.

Now, that may seem like a steep price tag but, comparably, it really is not when you know that it comes with 401 horsepower and 369 foot-pounds of torque driven by a five-cylinder engine that has proven itself at Nurburgring in a legendary 24-hour race.

Rocketing the compact sedan to 60 in a mere 3.6 seconds, the RS 3 also holds the lap record at Nurburgring with a time of just 7 minutes 40.74 seconds.

Our week with the RS 3 was in March, which should be springtime here along the Wasatch Front. However, spring had not yet arrived; we had some snow and lots of rain to contend with. Fortunately, the Audi came equipped with winter snow tires and was ready for the challenge.

The weather slowed us up a bit but not too much. We could still fly through the gears, with the RS 3 pushing us back into our seats each and every time.

The Audi came complete with five different drive modes to choose from. The first was Comfort mode. This is where the Audi would start the day, keeping it simple and using the front axle as much as possible. This mode kept gas mileage as the priority of the day.

We found that by switching to Auto mode, the second of the five, the torque would be distributed pretty evenly to the front and rear axles. This mode provided the best driving in snowy conditions, as we learned one morning as we headed out. With the included snow tires, the sedan handled the newly fallen snow with ease. (Had it still been sporting summer tires, our day may have definitely turned out differently.)

Dynamic mode was next. This would push as much torque as possible to the rear wheels, taking us back to high school when pretty much every vehicle we drove was a rear-wheel drive car. This mode was another great option and really pushed from the rear to get things moving. When all 401 ponies became engaged, yes, it was cool and breathtaking to experience!

The next driving mode, called RS Torque Rear mode, was very unexpected. It’s a strange name, but it allowed us to do something amazing: perform controlled drifts around corners. Awesome! There is now more than one backcountry road corner in our area that can testify that this system works just as advertised.

Last came RS Performance mode. We referred to it as “Fun mode” as it was designed for the track and would minimize understeer and oversteer when going through corners at a high rate of speed. We would have loved to take the RS 3 out on a track and really opened up this option, but there were smiles plastered on our faces while we were just running around town and down back roads.

With the inclusion of the Technology Package ($2,750), there was an added heads-up display that gave us all the pertinent driving information we could have ever wanted. The greatest addition was that when we were in Fun mode, it would add a line at the top of the display indicating when to shift so we could use the paddle shifters at just the right moment. This made us feel like we were driving on a track in a competition.

Did we mention the completely unique sound that comes from a five-cylinder engine? It is very pronounced in the RS 3. There was quite a growl and pop during up and down shifting at higher speeds.

Inside, the RS 3 came complete with all kinds of goodies and techno wizardry that would enhance anyone’s everyday commute or trip to the grocery store. A huge 10.1-inch infotainment touch screen dominated the dashboard. With a smartphone interface that controlled everything from entertainment to interior climate and, of course, navigation, the screen was perfectly set into the dash for convenient use.

This was complimented by a 12.3-inch, all-digital driving display that would also show navigation and other information along with very important numbers when in Fun mode like coolant, engine, transmission and oil temperatures. It also showed the G-forces we were experiencing at every turn. The Audi just kept on giving!

It could also keep track of lap times, 0-to-60 times, quarter-mile times and eighth-of-a-mile times. We would have expected nothing less from this sedan.

The leather-clad heated seats made the colder temperatures more bearable. About the only complaint we had was the lack of a heated steering wheel, but Fun mode really negated any negative vibes we had.

The RS 3 proved to be worthy of the moniker of sports sedan as it propelled us through the week and kept us happy the entire time!

Base price: $58,900

Destination charge: $1,095

Price as driven: $65,440

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