2023 Audi RS 3, BMW M2 Battle It Out for Small Performance Car Glory

2023 Audi RS 3 vs BMW M2

The brand new BMW M2 may be significantly more powerful, but it’s also less satisfying than the 2023 Audi RS 3.

These days, we live in what one could call the golden age of automotive performance, a time when one can buy all sorts of fast machines. This list covers the entire spectrum of vehicle types, whether we’re talking about traditional high-performance muscle cars and exotics all the way up to pickup trucks and large SUVs, and pretty much everything in between. Those seeking a small performance car with a bit of luxury also have some fantastic vehicles to choose from, with the 2023 Audi RS 3 and BMW M2 being among the best of the best, which is precisely why Throttle House pitted them against each other in a number of ways recently.

The BMW M2 has the benefit of being completely new, following a full redesign for the 2-Series on which it’s based. It’s powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six developing 453 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, which flows to the rear wheels via either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic transmission. Right off the bat, Throttle House notes that the manual “feels cumbersome” and the automatic “is dim-witted half the time,” which isn’t a good start.

2023 Audi RS 3 vs BMW M2

In the other lane, we have the 2023 Audi RS 3, which takes a different approach with its turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-five that sends 401 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. It tips the scales at around 3,600 pounds, however, which is notably less than the M2’s curb weight of just over 3,800 – quite interesting given the fact that the latter model doesn’t have to deal with the extra weight that AWD components add.

2023 Audi RS 3 vs BMW M2

TH notes that the 2023 Audi RS 3 is a “much more rewarding drive,” but aside from simple driving pleasure, what matters here is how the two stack up in terms of performance. To answer that question, we start out with a series of drag races, which the Audi kicks off with a win thanks to its massive traction advantage. In a roll race, the M2 uses its power advantage to motor ahead and take the win in that style of straight line test, though the car is clearly a bit more difficult to drive in that manner, too.

Out on the track, the RS3 managed a best lap time of 1:11.93, making it the 12th quickest car TH has tested to date, while the M2 wasn’t terribly far ahead at 1:11.19 – quite impressive given the fact that the Audi is down significantly in terms of output. At the end of the day, our hosts reveal that they would still buy the RS3 over the current-gen M2, which has seemingly taken a step back from generation-to-generation – bad news for BMW fans, indeed.

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Audi e-tron GT Quattro and RS 3 Face Off in Fascinating Drag Race

Audi e-tron GT Quattro and RS 3 Drag Race

The battle between the new-school Audi e-tron GT and the iconic 5-cylinder turbo RS 3 is far closer than one might expect.

Audi – like many automotive brands – is in the midst of a major transformation from the traditional world of ICE-powered vehicles to all-electric ones. The days of gas-powered machines like the amazing new RS 3 are quickly – and sadly – coming to an end, which means that we have precious little time left to enjoy them. On the flip side, Audi’s newest EV models are also pretty darn impressive, particularly in terms of performance, offering up plenty of thrills, albeit without any sort of glorious engine sounds. However, when Car recently lined up the new Audi e-tron GT Quattro against an RS 3, the results were a bit more interesting than one might expect.

To be more specific, the concept-car-like Audi e-tron GT Quattro is no slouch in terms of its straight-line performance, with (up to) 522 horsepower coming from its dual electric motors – good enough to propel it to 60 mph in less than 3.9 seconds. As we’ve seen in the past, performance-focused EVs tend to make superior drag racers thanks to their instant torque, and that’s certainly the case with this stunning sedan.

Audi e-tron GT Quattro and RS 3 Drag Race

As good as the new Audi e-tron GT is, however, we can’t forget about the equally amazing RS 3. The sporty sedan is powered by a turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine that cranks out 401 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, sending that juice to all four wheels, just like its electrified counterpart. Thanks to a quick-shifting dual-clutch gearbox, the RS 3 rockets to 60 mph in around 3.3 seconds – just a bit behind the e-tron GT.

Audi e-tron GT Quattro and RS 3 Drag Race

As such, this matchup looks pretty darn good on paper, though only a real-world test such as this truly tells the tale of how these two performance machines compare. As expected, the e-tron GT gets off the line a bit quicker than the RS 3, but the ICE sedan manages to hang with it after that. The two machines pretty much stay there the rest of the way down the quarter-mile, with the e-tron GT crossing the line in 11.6 seconds versus the RS 3’s 11.9-second pass. (Now imagine this race with the RS e-tron GT!)

While these are obviously two very different types of cars, it’s worth noting that the RS 3 is far cheaper – with a starting price that’s less than half of what it costs to get behind the wheel of a new e-tron GT. Given how close the two are in terms of performance, that makes it a rather compelling option for those that aren’t quite ready to take the all-electric plunge.

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Lightweight AWE Exhaust Suite for Audi RS 3 Unlocks Plenty of Power and Sound

Audi RS 3 8Y AWE Exhaust Suite

AWE now offers 8Y Audi RS 3 owners two compelling exhaust options that provide a big upgrade over OEM in more ways than one.

Exhaust systems have long been one of the more popular upgrades among automotive enthusiasts, and for good reason – they typically provide a huge upgrade over stock pipes in terms of sound, and often unlock a bit of extra power, too. In certain cases, aftermarket exhaust systems are also lighter than OEM units, which is very appealing for those actually concerned with making their cars faster, whether that be in a straight line of around the bends. Luckily for 8Y Audi RS 3 owners, AWE now offers a full suite of exhaust system upgrades that accomplish all three.

Audi RS 3 owners have a couple of compelling choices when it comes to brand new AWE exhaust upgrades – its standard SwitchPath system, as well as the Track Edition exhaust. Both are constructed from T304L stainless steel 3-inch piping, with the former offering a 3-inch valved passenger-side tip outlet and a 2.5-inch driver-side outlet with a tailored resonator. Better yet, the system also responds according to the car’s factory valve behavior and ECU commands based on throttle input, engine speed, and Drive Select.

Audi RS 3 8Y AWE Exhaust Suite

This means that owners can still get all the benefits of the RS 3’s active exhaust, and the SwitchPath setup comes with a plug and play valve assembling to enable easy installation with no valve actuator transfer necessary. As for the Track Edition Exhaust, it’s essentially identical in every way, though it doesn’t have a valve on the passenger side. This means that it’s in a constant “valve open” mode, constantly churning out amazing five-cylinder sounds at all times. Either way you go, these setups sound simply amazing, as we can clearly hear in this clip.

Both of these exhaust systems are 50-state emissions legal, easy to bolt-on, and guaranteed not to trigger a check engine light. Even better, both offer up gains of 9 horsepower and 11 pound-feet of torque, as well as weight savings of 30.5 pounds for the SwitchPath exhaust and 39 pounds for the Track Edition setup. Pricing comes in at $1,645 for the Track Edition, and $2,595 for the SwitchPath, and both can be purchased by heading over here.

Photos: AWE

The New Audi RS3: Specs and Gallery

2022 Audi RS 3

The new Audi RS 3 has been revealed — and it’s a triple threat of power, style and practicality.

Ingolstadt just dropped all the information on the new Audi RS 3, so hang on to your pants, because this baby sounds like a total blast. Power comes from Audi’s award-winning 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder, which pumps out a whopping 394 horsepower and 368 lb-ft of torque. While the ponies are unchanged, the updated unit makes 14 more lb-ft of twist than the outgoing version, and full thrust is available earlier in the rev range, at 5,600 rpm.

Power is piped to the company’s famous quattro system through a wicked-quick seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, which means the new RS 3 will make the sprint to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds. Keep your foot in the carpet, and standard models will pull all the way up to 155 mph. But there’s an optional package, which includes track-ready carbon ceramic brakes, which allows for an even higher maximum velocity. So if you need to hit 180 mph, make sure to check that box.

There’s also a trick new torque splitter in place of the old model’s rear differential, and in turns the fully variable system ensures that power goes to the wheel which needs it most. If you’re looking for some sideways fun, the new RS Torque Rear drive mode will allow drivers to pull off sweet drifts. The fastest lap times, however, will be achieved with the RS Performance mode, which is specifically calibrated to make use of all the grip the optional semi-slick tires will provide.

Of course, the greasy bits aren’t the only areas of the RS 3 that have gotten an update. Up front, there are new Matrix LED headlights, along with fender flares that are 1.3 inches wider. To feed more air to the engine, the intakes flaking the grille have been enlarged, and feature a cool honeycomb pattern. On the RS 3 sedan, which is the one that we’ll see here in the States, the roof will be painted Brilliant Black — which looks killer against the RS-specific Kyalami Green exterior finish.

Along the side of the car, there’s a now a vent behind the front wheel arch to help funnel heat away from the brakes, plus an RS-exclusive side rocker panel with a gloss-black inset. The wheels a five Y-spoke design, sized 265/30 in the front and 245/35 at the rear, and I think they look particularly sharp. Out back, a bumper with an integrated diffusor sits above the oval-shaped dual exhaust pipes, and a variable flap further back in the system means drivers will be treated to distinctly different sounds depending on which drive setting they choose.

Inside the cabin, a flat-bottom, Alcantara wheel with a 12 o’clock stripe communicates the sport potential of the RS 3 even before the ignition is turned on. That sexy tiller sits in front of Audi’s 12.3-inch virtual cockpit display, which includes readouts on factors like g-forces, lap times, acceleration from zero to 60 mph, and quarter-mile times. Along with black or red stitching, buyers now have a green option, which in my opinion is hottest one by a country mile.

At press time, no information on pricing is available. But European buyers will be able to order their new RS starting in late summer, and deliveries will start in the fall. No specific timetable for American customers has yet been announced. There’s sure to be loads more information about the new RS 3 released in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for more pictures and video of Audi’s latest high-performance daily driver!

Photos: Audi

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Family Squabbles: RS 3 vs RS 5 vs RS 6 Avant!

Audi RS 3 vs Audi RS 6 vs Audi RS 5

What was to have been a three-way drag and roll battle between RS trio goes astray when supposedly detuned RS 6 Avant arrives tuned to 11.

Which Audi RS is Best Audi RS? It’s a question that’s hard to answer. After all, some are happy with the RS 3’s small size and performance. Others, meanwhile, might need the room an RS 6 Avant or RS Q8 offer to go with the performance. Even the midsize RS 5 and RS 7 Sportback bring their own reasons for existing to the performance table. It’s truly hard to choose the overall best from the best.

YouTuber Sam CarLegion recently attempted to answer that question in a three-way battle between the RS 3, the RS 5, and the RS 6 Avant. However, the biggest of the bunch brought a shotgun when it was supposed to bring a knife to the fight.

Audi RS 3 vs Audi RS 6 vs Audi RS 5

“This one is quite interesting,” said Sam. “It’s a bit scary, too, because I haven’t done that many high-performance cars […] I kind of have an idea of who is going to win this, but I might be wrong, because I’ve been wrong before. We’re just here to have fun, but we also find out how these things are against each other.”

Sam’s bet, of course, is on the RS 6 Avant. After all, it packs 591 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque to the corners. However, you might’ve noticed the BHP stat on the Audi reading as “unknown.” That’s because the white whale had a tune, one that was supposed to be flashed back to OEM prior to the meeting.

About that…

Audi RS 3 vs Audi RS 6 vs Audi RS 5

“The reason the RS 6 is that fast is because it’s tuned,” Sam writes above. “I was told that the car would be returned to stock engine for this video, but it evidently wasn’t.”

In response to a comment, Sam says he didn’t know it was still tuned until the end of the day. Thus, the real battle was between the RS 3 and RS 5 Sportback. In normal mode, the lighter RS 3 pulls away on the first and second runs. Once Sam learns how to make the most of the RS 5, though, he takes the third run in full sport mode. The fourth drag and single roll runs, however, belong to the RS 3.

Audi RS 3 vs Audi RS 6 vs Audi RS 5

“Looking at the video and all that, I think the RS 6 is definitely tuned,” said Sam. “It makes a lot more horsepower than these two, which technically doesn’t make it a fair video. I wasted my money and my time […] people weren’t honest with me.”

We’d love to see this battle again, but this time with an honest RS 6 Avant owner. That guy didn’t need to flex so hard, after all; his rig would’ve been enough without the tune installed.

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Cameron Aubernon’s path to automotive journalism began in the early New ’10s. Back then, a friend of hers thought she was an independent fashion blogger.

Aubernon wasn’t, so she became one, covering fashion in her own way for the next few years.

From there, she’s written for: Louisville.com/Louisville Magazine, Insider Louisville, The Voice-Tribune/The Voice, TOPS Louisville, Jeffersontown Magazine, Dispatches Europe, The Truth About Cars, Automotive News, Yahoo Autos, RideApart, Hagerty, and Street Trucks.

Aubernon also served as the editor-in-chief of a short-lived online society publication in Louisville, Kentucky, interned at the city’s NPR affiliate, WFPL-FM, and was the de facto publicist-in-residence for a communal art space near the University of Louisville.

Aside from her contributions to Audi World, Aubernon can be found all through the IB Auto Group family, including 6 Speed Online, LS1Tech, and Team Speed. She also has her own independent automotive blog, Aubernon Highway.

Aubernon can be reached through her public Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts. She is wary of those she doesn’t already know, though; thus, she may not respond to messages sent.

Aubernon is a member of the International Motor Press Association, and the Washington Automotive Press Association.