Audi’s new RS3: What is it going up against?

The new RS3 is quicker than ever – but which rivals is it having to fend off this time?

Audi RS3 Sportback
Audi RS3 Sportback

Audi has finally revealed the new RS3 – a car which, for many years now, has delivered the kind of performance that’ll put fear into many sports cars. More potent than ever, the latest RS3 is quicker to accelerate than before, yet with quattro all-wheel-drive it should still be able to deploy this fierce power in all conditions – just like its predecessor could.

But the competition that the RS3 faces has only got stronger, with many key competitors out for the hot-hatch crown. Let’s take a look at some of the rivals facing Audi’s RS3.

Volkswagen Golf R

Volkswagen Golf R
All-wheel-drive provides exceptional levels of grip during cornering

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The first rival that the RS3 has to face off against comes from within the Volkswagen Group itself. It’s Volkswagen’s ever-popular Golf R, which uses a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine with 316bhp, bringing a 0-60mph time of 4.5 seconds and a 155mph top speed.

Though it can’t quite match the RS3’s acceleration time of 3.6 seconds, the Golf’s all-weather ability does challenge the Audi’s sure-footedness.

Mercedes-AMG A45S

Mercedes-AMG A45
(Mercedes-AMG)

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The A45 has consistently been a thorn in the RS3’s side, with its hugely powerful 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine being one of the main challengers to the Audi’s 2.5-litre unit. With 415bhp, the A45S will crack 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds – perilously close to the RS3.

The A45S also packs a striking interior and a raucous exhaust note, both of which add extra character to this punchy hot hatch.

Cupra Leon

Cupra Leon Estate
(Cupra)

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Cupra is already making a name for itself as a separate entity to Seat. However, one of its most famous models – the Leon – is unashamedly based on one of the Spanish firm’s cars, but this hasn’t stopped Cupra from applying some of its go-faster touches.

The latest Cupra Leon uses much the same powertrain as you’ll find in the Golf R, with a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine producing 306bhp in estate models. It’s enough power to send the Leon from 0-60mph in 4.7 seconds and onwards to a top speed of 155mph.

BMW M135i

BMW M135i
(BMW)

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BMW made a real switch for its latest 1 Series, migrating from its classic rear-wheel-drive setup to one which saw the front wheels powered for the first time. In the go-faster M135i, all wheels are driven courtesy of BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system, allowing for better traction.

With a 0-60mph time of 4.6 seconds it can’t match the RS3 in a straight line, but thanks to well-judged suspension and excellent steering, the BMW should put up a real fight in the bends.

Renault Megane R.S.

Renault Megane R.S.
The Megane is superbly suited to UK roads

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Renault’s ‘hot’ Megane models have always erred on the side of driver engagement rather than outright performance and this is certainly the case with the most recent model. With a 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine kicking out 296bhp it’s more than punchy enough – even though its 5.5-second 0-60mph time is one of the slowest here.

However, when it comes to driving the Megane R.S. really shines. In the UK particularly, the Megane’s nimble handling and excellent feedback resonate strongly and, as such, make it a fine competitor for the RS3.

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