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      09-21-2018, 09:57 PM   #1
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E92 DCT M3 vs 2018 RS3

I don't think this has been done before. Since I swapped my DCT e92 m3 for an RS3, and put 3,000 km on the RS3 (including 1500km post break-in), I thought I'd do a little writeup.

Speed: the M3 offered instantaneous acceleration, whereas the RS3 has slight turbo lag. But the RS3 feels significantly faster than the M3. The auto reviewers always emphasize 0-60 times for the RS3 (3.5-3.6 seconds), but I actually notice the RS3 is extremely fast when passing. I find all of a sudden I'm going WAY faster than I meant to and way faster than I would have been in the M3 in the same amount of time. It's actually a little scary, and I have found myself swearing out loud multiple times when I look down and see how fast I'm going. They also accelerate in different ways. The M3 was very linear with a constant and increasing rate of acceleration. The RS3 feels more like a sling shot in that there's a wind up and then all of a sudden everything is a complete blur and you're worried about the police taking your car away.

Transmission: Comparing manual modes, the M3 DCT is superior in manual mode when driving normally. It offered faster downshifts when you want to go from docile to crazy, and in driving 40,000 km in my m3 I don't think I ever had it not respond immediately to a press of the paddle (unless I pressed the wrong one). In manual mode, the RS3 will sometimes not upshift if I click the right paddle at ~4000 RPM. When driving sedately, the shifts can lag a little on the RS3, which is irritating. When driving adventurously, the RS3 transmission picks up and is more responsive to both upshifts and downshifts. If you leave the RS3 in full auto it shifts extremely quickly and there's a continuous stream of power until you get scared and stop. It's also great in auto if you're just putting around town - very smooth. Edit: the rs3 stick also shifts backwards - push away to upshift, pull towards you for downshift - which I think feels unnatural. So I never shift using the stick.

Sound: this is a big one for me and ultimately the reason I bought each of these cars. I would say that both cars have unique aural characteristics that make it clear you're driving something special. The RS3 makes better sounds at low speeds - fun pops and crackles and soft, low burbles that kill time in traffic - and from 4-7k has a very melodic quality to it that I love. But it only revs to 7 instead of 8300. Above 5k the RS3 has significantly less engine noise in the cabin than the e92 had (even with stock base e92 exhaust). I think this is one of the factors that contributes to the surprising speed in the RS3. The M3 lets you know throughout the whole acceleration that you're accelerating quickly, whereas there's a bit less drama in the RS3. I love the RS3 noise on upshifts when accelerating hard. In some cars I think those types of turbo blowoff noises can sound like farts, but I like the noises the RS3 makes. Both cars have an exaggerated throttle blip on downshifts, but the M3's is louder and better. The RS3 has a crazy startup tone when the engine is already warm that includes a backfire that can literally sound like a gunshot. It's obnoxious but I also love it. The only time I didn't appreciate that noise was when a mother was pushing her stroller by my car and I had to wait for her to get 100 feet away to not wake the baby.

Interior: The RS3 is clearly superior here. I liked the M3's interior a lot, but in my view the orange displays on the e92 are starting to get pretty dated. My E92 had no nav, so I can't compare idrive to MMI. But I would say that overall the RS3's interior is much more modern. I like Audi's virtual cockpit a lot and I find the manual-only seats to be more comfortable than the M3's. My wife agrees. I like the android auto/Apple Carplay integration, although sometimes apps (Waze/Google play) will freeze up, which is really irritating and requires restarting the phone.

Handling: I have not tracked either car. On winding roads, Both cars performed exceptionally well. I was pushing the Audi to try to find the dreaded understeer people talk about, but I never found it.

Looks: this will be particularly subjective. I like the fact that the RS3 can be a sleeper. If you get a subtle colour, 95% of people won't know what the car is or how much you spent on it. I think the RS3 is nicely proportioned, but overall, I'd give the edge to the M3 here. The paint on both cars is fantastic. Both Interlagos Blue and Ara Blue are amazing metallic blues that take on different hues in different lights. I like the M3's darker blue for looking more sinister at night, whereas the Ara blue is gong to be much easier to maintain than dark blue.

Practicality: This car is our only car for now, so practicality also matters. The RS3 wins for our family on this one. The RS3's trunk is definitely smaller than the M3's. But the RS3 has an amazing all-wheel drive system that makes the car fast in winter. My old M3 got beat last winter by a hyundai Santa Fe, and it killed me a little inside. There are a bunch of creature comforts in the RS3 that make rushhour traffic a bit more bearable (lane keep assist, adaptive cruise; collision sensing and auto-braking). The RS3 has 4 doors, for when friends (or children) want to join the drive. Those doors are short, and allow my very pregnant wife to get into and out of the car in our small condo parking spot.

Audio Systems: My e92 had the HK audio (aka individual audio). I'd say that this audio system was very close to Audi's current B&O system, which surprised me. I expected Audi's audio to be much better than a BMW system from 2011. To my ears it's essentially a tie in terms of clarity and balance. The Audi system can, howver, go significantly louder without distorting than the HK system could.

Value: The M3 is a better value. The RS3 is quite expensive. It's probably not worth paying 20k more than you would for an e90 M3. RS cars normally hold their value quite well here in Canada, so hopefully some of the outlay will be recaptured when I eventually sell the RS3.

Overall Impressions: I would say that the e92 M3 is a more focused sports car and the better weekend car, whereas the RS3 is a small car that does everything well (luxury, all-weather speed, handling, practicality) and is the ultimate daily driver in harsh climates.

If any of you are considering the move to RS3, I'm happy to answer questions.

Last edited by TaxLit; 09-26-2018 at 06:44 AM.
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      09-21-2018, 11:17 PM   #2
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Time to pick up a daily driver and mod!

https://www.goapr.com/news/2018/07/1...-a-new-record/

9's @ 144 mph is insane with just those mods.
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      09-22-2018, 02:20 AM   #3
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No doubt the RS3 sounds like a potent package, the 5 banger sounds pretty good as well. I just can't get past the stubby look, looks even more awkward in person.
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      09-22-2018, 02:52 AM   #4
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There is a lot to love about the RS3, they feel properly special. Cracking engine, all weather ability, stealthy looks, very well made. Only downside is in the USA you can only buy the saloon version.
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      09-22-2018, 07:26 AM   #5
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I'd love an RS3 avant if they were available here in the states. My wife has an A3 2.0T Quattro and we will be changing it out when we have kids. The trunk is terribly small, my E90 is much more roomier. That said, I've always liked Audi's. I probably wouldn't give up the E90, in Interlagos as well, for an RS3 but I'd consider the RS5 sportback or RS7, just for its size.

That RS3 though is an amazing car. I love the 5 cylinder turbo, it's a very unique sound and pulls like a freight train. Hey Audi, bring the Avant to the states already!!!!!!!
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      09-22-2018, 11:11 AM   #6
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Thank you for the thorough review. I am considering RS3 to possibly replace e92 m3 so this was very helpful to me. I have never driven an RS3 but have read mostly positive reviews. There are few things that are holding me back though- albeit concerns by journalist and owners and not from my personal experience. One reviewer (I think it was EVO), said that it's strangely not as engaging as Golf R despite much more potent engine. Some owners have also commented on the artificial feel - like playing video game. Audi's are not known for steering feel. I know this from my past experiences with B8.5 S4 and Golf R which is basically same car as S3. I don't really care for virtual cockpit and other gimmicks; wish Audi had made RS3 more focused and engaging instead. I believe the direction Audi Sport is taking with RS cars is more of GT car instead of focused sports cars. This is evident throughout the RS line up. For example, the plastic pedal shifters mounted to the steering wheels of RS3 and RS5 look and feel cheap. Despite all this I think RS3 is a fantastic package especially in snowy regions. I just think I will miss the feel of e92/90 and for the price of RS3, one can probably get a e92 m3 and a nicely used WRX/STI.
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      09-22-2018, 01:37 PM   #7
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I really like the look of the RS3, and its overall capabilities. But the farty nature of the exhaust on upshifts is terrible. In the sound department, I think the M3 wins by a mile.
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      09-22-2018, 06:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bkfastwagon View Post
... One reviewer (I think it was EVO), said that it's strangely not as engaging as Golf R despite much more potent engine. Some owners have also commented on the artificial feel - like playing video game. Audi's are not known for steering feel. I know this from my past experiences with B8.5 S4 and Golf R which is basically same car as S3. I don't really care for virtual cockpit and other gimmicks; wish Audi had made RS3 more focused and engaging instead. I believe the direction Audi Sport is taking with RS cars is more of GT car instead of focused sports cars. This is evident throughout the RS line up. For example, the plastic pedal shifters mounted to the steering wheels of RS3 and RS5 look and feel cheap. Despite all this I think RS3 is a fantastic package especially in snowy regions. I just think I will miss the feel of e92/90 and for the price of RS3, one can probably get a e92 m3 and a nicely used WRX/STI.
Funny you say this - I actually test drove a Golf R and found it to not be engaging enough or fast enough. It was good, but didn't grab me.

I can see how some people would not like the virtual cockpit, etc. It will probably age TERRIBLY. But for now, it's a lot of fun.

I agree this car generally feels more GT focused until you drive it really hard and that the shifters should be higher quality that what they provide. I'm sure the aftermarket will solve the subpar paddles shortly. At the same time, I'm sure if I took the RS3 to the track it could beat the pants off most cars. I was flogging it on abandoned curvy roads and it didn't miss a beat or leave me feeling like I was lacking anything from the M3. I think on a track it might be faster than a stock e92.

I find the RS3 steering feel is actually very good when set to dynamic mode, and provides good road feel. It's overboosted and numb in comfort mode, which was actually kinda nice when finishing out a long road trip.

I agree that Subaru for winter and E92 for summer would probably be an better value proposition if you have the desire/space to keep two cars. I considered this, but WRXs hold their value extremely well where I'm located. Also, we can't get two parking spots in our condo, and I was also constantly worrying about rod bearing blowup and didn't want to pay the $3800 Cdn I was quoted for a bearing job. Lastly, my wife is very pregnant and could barely get into the M3 due to its long doors and our tiny parking spot. lol. I knew if I didn't get rid of it soon the day would come when she literally could not get into the car to go where she needed to go, and that would not be a good day for anyone...
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      09-23-2018, 02:27 PM   #9
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Iíve been toying with a RS3 but for $60k+ I donít know if itís worth it. I keep looking at DCT M3 E90 prices and they are finally dipping below $40k for 2011s and even less for older models. I love the V8+DCT despite the rod bearing issues.

I know itís apples to oranges, but I think even with the rod bearings fixed a winter beater and a used S/C kit, Iíd be well under RS3 prices. The E90 just looks fantastic IMO.
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      09-23-2018, 04:06 PM   #10
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Great review. Is AWD the reason you went for this over a DCT E90?

It seems like a heck of a car that's just the right size, but I hope they hold their value at that sticker price.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TTony View Post
Time to pick up a daily driver and mod!

https://www.goapr.com/news/2018/07/1...-a-new-record/

9's @ 144 mph is insane with just those mods.
Ho.Lee.Chit.
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      09-23-2018, 10:11 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TaxLit View Post
Funny you say this - I actually test drove a Golf R and found it to not be engaging enough or fast enough. It was good, but didn't grab me.

I can see how some people would not like the virtual cockpit, etc. It will probably age TERRIBLY. But for now, it's a lot of fun.

I agree this car generally feels more GT focused until you drive it really hard and that the shifters should be higher quality that what they provide. I'm sure the aftermarket will solve the subpar paddles shortly. At the same time, I'm sure if I took the RS3 to the track it could beat the pants off most cars. I was flogging it on abandoned curvy roads and it didn't miss a beat or leave me feeling like I was lacking anything from the M3. I think on a track it might be faster than a stock e92.

I find the RS3 steering feel is actually very good when set to dynamic mode, and provides good road feel. It's overboosted and numb in comfort mode, which was actually kinda nice when finishing out a long road trip.

I agree that Subaru for winter and E92 for summer would probably be an better value proposition if you have the desire/space to keep two cars. I considered this, but WRXs hold their value extremely well where I'm located. Also, we can't get two parking spots in our condo, and I was also constantly worrying about rod bearing blowup and didn't want to pay the $3800 Cdn I was quoted for a bearing job. Lastly, my wife is very pregnant and could barely get into the M3 due to its long doors and our tiny parking spot. lol. I knew if I didn't get rid of it soon the day would come when she literally could not get into the car to go where she needed to go, and that would not be a good day for anyone...
Just to clarify, I wasn't knocking the RS3- I actually quite like it and if I'm forced to buy a new car today, it would be on top of the list. I certainly would take it over F80 M3. I think the points I made apply to most performance cars today, not just the RS3.
I feel like the automakers don't pay attention to small details that make the driving experience more engaging. For example, in Audi's and VW's the DSG shifter (not the paddle shifters) has upward + shift and downward - shift, which is opposite of bmw's DCT shifter (downward for + shift and upward for downshift). I find the bmw's configuration more intuitive. Interestingly, Porsche's PDK follows Audi/VW configuration in non-GT cars whereas PDK in GT cars follow bmw's configuration. Yes, I am nitpicking but these things do matter to me.

Anyways, congrats and enjoy your RS3. It sounds like your wife prefers RS3, which is the most important opinion. I will hold on to my e92 but will probably be drawn to RS3 when the winter hits Northeast.
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      09-23-2018, 10:53 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Millie View Post
Iíve been toying with a RS3 but for $60k+ I donít know if itís worth it. I keep looking at DCT M3 E90 prices and they are finally dipping below $40k for 2011s and even less for older models. I love the V8+DCT despite the rod bearing issues.

I know itís apples to oranges, but I think even with the rod bearings fixed a winter beater and a used S/C kit, Iíd be well under RS3 prices. The E90 just looks fantastic IMO.
I also don't know whether it's worth it yet. I don't feel like it's a "clearly yes" or a "clearly no" and I probably won't know for another few months. I could totally see the supercharged e90 + winter beater as an alternative option. I agree the E90 looks fantastic. But with a supercharger I'd be really worried about the engine blowing up. Your alternative option raises an interesting point in that I can't do any mods to the RS3 until warranty is up, but the counterpoint is that I now have zero stress about the potential for major repairs.

Also, since I'm not a regular at the track I don't think there's much utility in going faster than a stock e90/92. I'd probably put the money into making my beater a bit more comfortable instead.

Quote:
Originally Posted by spazzyfry123 View Post
Great review. Is AWD the reason you went for this over a DCT E90?

It seems like a heck of a car that's just the right size, but I hope they hold their value at that sticker price.
Yes, the AWD was a big factor! Even with Blizzaks I found I had limited traction for much of last year. While we live in the city we frequently drive a few hours out of the city on weekends. Also, there's a chance we might relocate to a location with even more snow in the coming year. I test drove a badass 2017 C63S, which is on my bucket list of cars to own, and really enjoyed it (the rumble was awesome), but ultimately concluded I didn't want another RWD car as our only car in the winter.

Also, instead of swapping to e90, which would be essentially the same experience as I had in the E92, I wanted to try something new. I have a rather long list of cars to own before I die. Remaining are:

Lancer Evo
STI
C63s OR E63s wagon
Giulia Quadrifoglio
Some kind of Corvette (Grand Sport?)
911
Gallardo Nera

I agree re:sticker price. RS cars traditionally hold value well here in Canada, but were also limited to only a few years. I'm budgeting on the assumption that I've probably lost a significant portion of my down payment already due to instant depreciation when I drove the car off the lot. But I'm hoping that year to year depreciation from now on won't be too bad. At least I didn't buy when the cars were first released and selling for well above MSRP in many areas.
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      09-24-2018, 09:57 PM   #13
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Great review
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      09-26-2018, 06:41 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bkfastwagon View Post
Just to clarify, I wasn't knocking the RS3- I actually quite like it and if I'm forced to buy a new car today, it would be on top of the list. ..
Thanks. I didnít take it that way. I just wrote a long response to address the issues you had raised in case you (or others) were seriously considering buying the car.

I agree re up/down shift direction. I really hate that itís backwards in the Rs3. I never use the stick for that reason, which is kinda too bad since the alcantera feels really nice.
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      09-26-2018, 12:46 PM   #15
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i drove an RS3 a few months ago. i agree with almost all of your points, taxlit. regarding the transmission, i thought manual mode felt almost pointless, b/c you have so much torque available in any gear, and hitting redline doesn't give you the same thrill as in the E92.
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      09-26-2018, 07:20 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TaxLit View Post
Yes, the AWD was a big factor! Even with Blizzaks I found I had limited traction for much of last year. While we live in the city we frequently drive a few hours out of the city on weekends. Also, there's a chance we might relocate to a location with even more snow in the coming year. I test drove a badass 2017 C63S, which is on my bucket list of cars to own, and really enjoyed it (the rumble was awesome), but ultimately concluded I didn't want another RWD car as our only car in the winter.

Also, instead of swapping to e90, which would be essentially the same experience as I had in the E92, I wanted to try something new. I have a rather long list of cars to own before I die. Remaining are:

Lancer Evo
STI
C63s OR E63s wagon
Giulia Quadrifoglio
Some kind of Corvette (Grand Sport?)
911
Gallardo Nera

I agree re:sticker price. RS cars traditionally hold value well here in Canada, but were also limited to only a few years. I'm budgeting on the assumption that I've probably lost a significant portion of my down payment already due to instant depreciation when I drove the car off the lot. But I'm hoping that year to year depreciation from now on won't be too bad. At least I didn't buy when the cars were first released and selling for well above MSRP in many areas.
That's a heck of a list. E63s wagon gets a LOT of jobs done.

Guy near work has the AR Quad both you and I are after (even with established quality concerns), and I just lose my mind every time I see it. I can't get over how badly I want one...but I don't think I could commit to OWNING one.

I live where if we see an inch a year we will raise the NYSE stock value of milk and bread from that one weekend alone. AWD has never been a big concern of mine since I've always owned some type of SUV and/or truck, but I just can't get over how much of a punch the RS3 can deliver with its package. I've lost a lot of faith with VAG through some previous experiences and unfortunately have a difficult time considering another purchase...but damn does this thing look right.

WHY NO AVANT?!
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      09-26-2018, 08:40 PM   #17
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IF I've got $60K to spend I'm going to buy a GT350. An RS3 for $60. That's a joke.
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      09-27-2018, 09:45 AM   #18
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Quote:
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IF I've got $60K to spend I'm going to buy a GT350. An RS3 for $60. That's a joke.
I dunno, I think spending 60 grand on a mustang is bananas.
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      09-27-2018, 01:02 PM   #19
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Nice review, thanks!

In reference to the above posts, I think they mean $60K CAD, $60K CAD can't buy a GT350, they're around $76K CAD
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      09-27-2018, 01:07 PM   #20
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does the rs3 have an active rear differential?
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      09-27-2018, 05:15 PM   #21
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M2Comp seems like the better buy for same price unless AWD is desired. I would even argue the rear seat space is larger in the 2er than the Audi A3 line. I like Audi and they tempt me every few years but I always have some regrets and go back to BMW.
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      09-27-2018, 05:47 PM   #22
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Thanks for the review, this helped me a lot in getting a good impression of the car. I had an E93 M3 which I needed to change out to better suit the family, the kids were big enough now the rear seat was an annoyance for them and they preferred the SUV. The RS3 was on my list of potential replacements but I managed to find a 2011 E90 M3 and went that direction.

I am local to you and the only drawback for me on the E90 was the dated look a bit, I love the appearance of the E90, but the wife was thinking the car is looking older now and was favorable for the AWD of the RS3. Funny enough, the favorite selling feature for me on the RS3 was the nardo grey color you can get it in. I would of most definitely ordered one in that color. I recently saw an RS3 on the QEW and he was quick.

Enjoy the RS3!!
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