How does this latest RS3 compare to its predecessor?

Audi’s RS3 has been a mainstay in the hot-hatch world for a long time now, offering all of the performance and practicality that buyers in this segment are after. With each passing model, it has become more powerful and more technical, too, but has still been based around that usefully spacious hatchback layout.

There’s a new one out, but how does this latest RS3 compare to its predecessor? Let’s take a look.

Red 2021 Audi RS3 Front


The exterior design of the new RS3 is quite different to that of the car it replaces. It’s based on the latest A3 model, of course, but boasts wider arches and a generally more aggressive stance on the road. Compared with the older RS3, the new version is far more noticeable out on the road whereas it had a more undercover feel to it beforehand. 

At the rear of the new RS3 sits a pair of very distinctive lights, which incorporate the latest LED technology which allows them to ‘scroll’ when indicating. 


It’s inside where you’ll notice a big difference between the generations. Towards the end of its life, the older RS3’s interior was starting to look a little dated - though the level of fit-and-finish remained top-notch. The switchgear area was particularly strong in terms of design and feel, while the relatively thin-rimmed steering wheel represents quite the opposite to what you get in most sporty cars on sale today. 

Thankfully, that relatively thin wheel has been carried over to the new RS3, while a complete redesign of the cabin architecture means that it feels more centred around driver and passenger. Plus, as before there’s the option of both saloon and hatchback layouts, broadening the RS3’s appeal. 

Red 2021 Audi RS3 Seats
Red 2021 Audi RS3 Virtual Cockpit screen


You’ll notice a real boost in technology between these two generations. Though the older RS3 still incorporated a small central touchscreen and digital dials, even these can’t quite compete with the technological onslaught in the new generation. There’s an updated 12.3-inch ‘virtual cockpit’ ahead of the driver, which features a range of bespoke RS displays to relay key engine and performance data. 

There’s also a secondary 10.1-inch central infotainment display with a high-resolution screen. It’s well designed, with logical menu layouts and quick responses. 


As well as that boost in torque, Audi has completely revised the RS3’s chassis setup, helping it to better deliver that performance. There’s a new torque splitter at the rear of the car to help shift the power between the rear wheels depending on the type of corner, which really helps to add to the car’s agility. 

The dampers have been completely redeveloped too, while a new ‘drift mode’ allows the all-wheel-drive system to deliver controlled slides. The brakes have been upgraded as well, while optional ceramic units provide even more stopping power if it’s required. 

Red 2021 Audi RS3 Rear



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