2018 Audi RS 3: more aggressive, sport-focused design elements

I couldn’t have received a nicer Christmas present in my driveway.

Well, I could have if it was mine to keep – but let’s get back to reality!

I had the privilege of test-driving the 2018 Audi RS 3 quattro sedan, available for the first time in the U.S. last year.

For those unfamiliar, RS is short for RennSport which translates as Racing Sport. It’s an even higher performance level than your average, run-of-the-mill Audi (tongue planted firmly in cheek).

As the first compact Audi to wear the RS badge, the RS 3 delivers unrivaled performance in its segment, coupled with a high level of everyday functionality.

It features an all-new generation of the Audi five-cylinder engine mated to a seven-speed, S tronic, dual-clutch automatic transmission with reinforced quattro system. The combo delivers 400 horsepower and 354-lb.-ft. of torque and a 0-to-60 mph time of 3.9 seconds and top track speed of 155 miles per hour – 174 mph with the optional dynamic plus package.

My Christmas went FAST, pardon the pun.

In addition to its power output, Audi’s five-cylinder engine is known for its firing order and sound. The 1-2-4-5-3 ignition sequence produces a special rhythm and a distinct engine note that can be controlled by opening the flaps of the standard RS exhaust system. It sounds badass, with a tater pop reminiscent of a Harley.

The RS 3 has more aggressive and sport-focused design elements than its A3 family counterparts. From the front, the RS 3 wears the signature Audi Single-frame grille with three-dimensional honeycomb design and quattro script.

An aluminum-matte front blade extends across the width of the vehicle and connects to the large front air intakes, and wider front wheel arches provide design cues to the vehicle’s quattro DNA. At the rear, sportier design elements include a body-colored rear spoiler lip, twin oval RS exhaust pipes and a rear diffuser in aluminum-matte finish with vertical struts.

In short, the RS 3 looks the part.

The interior design includes greater attention to detail with driver-oriented, easy-to-operate controls and functions. Intended to support the driver from track to street, the S sport Nappa leather seats feature sharply contoured side bolsters while the standard acoustic windshield helps to reduce interior cabin noise.

Creature comforts are everywhere, highlighted by the Google Earth, MMI navigation system, Bang & Olufsen sound system with 14 speakers and 705 watts of pure, crisp sound. Also worthy of note is Audi’s smartphone interface featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Safety features are delivered to match, but they’re just not as sexy. Worth mentioning, however, is Audi Pre-Sense. The system senses an impending collision and automatically brakes prepare the vehicle for impact. This process includes beginning to close the side windows and panoramic sunroof and pre-tensioning the front safety belts.

Base Price: $55,875

Price As Driven: $62,125

Base price includes destination charge. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. List price may vary at local dealerships.

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