We have done comparisons of Audi sport models, such as the Audi S3 vs S4, but this is our first one to include the RS models. For those readers that aren’t sure what the difference is between the RS and S models for Audi, we’ll quickly explain. Put simply, RS stands for RennSport, which is translated to “racing sport” in German. Therefore, RS is the top-tier trim level when it comes to performance at Audi, with “S”, or simply sport, underneath it. So it goes RS, S, and A from highest to lowest for all Audi vehicles. So, is the RS3 worth the extra $6,500 – $13,100?
Now, in this article, we will discuss many similarities and differences between the Audi RS3 vs S3. Topics that will be addressed are performance, price, reliability, and more so you can decide if the RS3 is worth it. In our eyes, 100% yes. But we’ll get more into below.
Audi RS3 vs S3 – The Basics
The Audi RS3 was first introduced in 2011 as a sportback model. It has had three total generations in the last decade. The 8P, or first-generation RS3, was built on the Volkswagen Group’s PQ35 platform, the 8V, or second-generation, was built on the MQB platform, and the 8Y, or third-generation, is built on the MQB Evo platform. The RS3 is a subcompact executive car that is sportier than the S3. The RS3 has only had two body styles since it came out: a five-door sportback (which we love, but they’re hard to find) and a four-door sedan.
The Audi S3 was first introduced in 1999 and is still in production today. Since its introduction, there have been 4 generations. The 8L, or first-generation S3, was built on the PQ34 platform, the 8P, or second-generation S3, was built on the PQ35 platform, the 8V, or third-generation, was built on the MQB platform, and lastly, the 8Y, or fourth-generation, was built on the MQB Evo platform. The S3 is also a subcompact executive car that is the sport variant of the Audi A3 and in between the A3 and RS3. It has featured many body styles: a 3-door hot hatch, 5-door Sportback, and a 4-door sedan.
- 8P RS3 Sportback (2011-2012)
- 8V RS3 (2015-2020)
- 8Y RS3 (2022-Present)
- 8L S3 (1999-2003)
- 8P S3 (2006-2013)
- 8V S3 (2013-2020)
- 8Y S3 (2020-Present)
Audi S3 vs RS3 Price
This portion will be going over the brand new 2022 Audi RS3 & S3 prices and used prices for both models.
New Audi RS3 vs S3 Prices
In this section, we will be covering the new Audi RS3 and S3 2022 model year prices. The S3 and RS3 only offer one engine option. So, a Premium 2.0T TFSI Audi S3 begins at $45,800, a Premium Plus Audi S3 begins at $48,600, and lastly, a Prestige Audi S3 begins at $52,400. Unlike the S3, the RS3 only has one trim but offers a more powerful engine. The 2.5T RS3 starts at $58,900. Not only does the RS3 have the bigger engine, but it also has most of the bells and whistles. If you are interested in knowing about the different Audi trims, here is an article explaining the differences.
Used Audi RS3 vs S3 Prices
In this section, we will be covering used Audi RS3s and S3s. Since the S3 has been around a decade longer than the RS3, we will use similar model years (2017-2021) for consistencies sake. A used S3’s price ranges from $14,995 – $48,998* with an average price overall of $31,995, depending on model year and mileage. A used RS3’s price ranges from $48,995 – $74,995* with an average price overall of $61,995, depending on model year and mileage. The RS3 that is priced at $74,995 is priced at $11,000 over the market average and is causing quite the skew in used prices. However, used prices between the S3 and RS3 are quite ridiculous in our minds and it may be worth going with a brand new RS3 after seeing this.
*At the time of writing this article, we believe we are in a market where used vehicles are inflated, so consider that when seeing the used prices above.
General Audi RS3 vs S3 Topics
Audi RS3 vs S3 Performance
For consistencies sake, we will be using the 2022 Audi RS3 and S3. Now, the fun part, performance, and the main reason the price difference is there.
Engines, Drivetrain, & Fuel Economy
Audi S3 Performance
A 2022 Audi S3 has a 2.0T TFSI that is tuned for the “S” tier Audi. This engine puts 306hp and 295 lb-ft down out of the factory. It boasts an impressive 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds and has a top speed of 155mph. It comes standard with a 7-speed S Tronic automatic transmission and Audi’s quattro® AWD system. This engine gets 23mpg in the city and 32mpg on the highway for a combined 27mpg on a 14.5gal fuel tank. Engine aside, S3s have sport upgraded suspension and sport high-performance brakes. The aftermarket support for the S3 is massive and we’ve seen many S3s get up to 500+ hp.
Audi RS3 Performance
A 2022 Audi RS3 has a larger 2.5T TFSI engine that puts out a whopping 401hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. It boasts an even more impressive 0-60 time of 3.6 seconds and has a top speed of 180mph, if not limited. It comes standard with a 7-speed S Tronic automatic transmission and Audi’s quattro® AWD system. This larger engine gets 19mpg in the city and 28mpg on the highway for a combined 23mpg with a 14.5gal fuel tank. Engine aside, RS3s have the same suspension and brakes, except the RS3 also gets magnetic ride standard. This makes the RS3 stiffer than the S3 and provides better handling with less body roll. The aftermarket support for the RS3 is massive and we’ve seen many RS3s get up to 700+ hp with not a lot of mods.
Audi RS3 vs S3 Reliability and Common Problems
Is the Audi S3 reliable? The S3s overall reliability is below average. For some reason, there isn’t a lot of data to go on when it comes to the S3’s reliability. However, after scrolling through multiple credible sources and forums, we have seen mixed reviews. The average annual maintenance costs of an S3, are $974. This is above the average annual ownership cost for luxury midsize cars of $739.
Common problems seen in S3s are as followed: ignition coil or speak plug failure, water pump or thermostat failure, A/C issues, electrical issues, power window regulator failure, and fuel system issues. If properly maintained, an S3 can last up to 150,000 miles or more. Once it crosses the important 100,000-mile mark, preventative maintenance is a must for longevity.
Is the Audi RS3 reliable? Unlike the S3s, the RS3 seems to have better overall reliability. Unfortunately, like the S3, there also isn’t a lot of data to go on when it comes to the RS3’s reliability. Therefore, we had to scroll through forums and other credible sources for more information. The average annual maintenance costs can be expected to be slightly more than the Audi S3. There aren’t very many common problems to report, but here are the few we did find: ignition coil or speak plug failure, electrical issues, excessive oil consumption, fuel pump issues, MAF sensor issues, and premature engine mount failure. There aren’t very many daily-driven RS3’s out there, so it is quite difficult to get a gauge of how long these can and have lasted.
Audi RS3 vs S3 – Which is Better?
We feel this is a rather subjective question because different consumers have different vehicle needs and lifestyles. However, that’s what you are here for, to see which is better between the Audi RS3 vs S3. So we’ll give our opinion and provide facts so others can make their own informed decision. Our favorite is the RS3. This is because it comes with a more powerful engine that can be modded to get much more power easily and it seems the RS3 is more reliable. However, for those that aren’t comfortable stretching their budget, the S3 is an excellent alternative. It gets better gas mileage, is cheaper in both new and used, and can still put down some serious power. The S3 does have sports accents, but the RS3 has more sports accents that we favor. Both vehicles have 5-star safety ratings and similar safety and tech features.
Typically we always suggest going to the dealership to test drive the vehicles in question. However, the odds of you going with an S3 after putting the pedal to the metal in an RS3 isn’t likely, unless budget is in question. But first-hand experience is ALWAYS a must before purchasing any expensive vehicle to make sure it fits your needs and wants.
Audi RS3 vs S3 Conclusion
To wrap up this article, we know making a vehicle purchase can be quite daunting, especially for luxury vehicles. We hope the information provided above assists anyone in their purchasing decision. We’ll quickly summarize the differences between the two models. The RS3 is more expensive but has a more powerful engine that tends to be more reliable. The S3 is cheaper, gets more fuel economy, and is still equipped with a great engine. If you are a reader that has had any first-hand experience with either model, please let us know your thoughts in the comments below. This will assist us in our research and future readers. If you would like to read up on more S3 content, here is an article on the Audi A3 vs S3.