Audi RS3 vs Volkswagen Golf R

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Audi RS3 vs Volkswagen Golf R

While the world is fast-tracking the complete introduction of alternative energy propulsion, some manufacturers are still giving us a few firecracker vehicles. Audi is known for its high-performance vehicles that carry the RS badge and the entry point into the realm of this performance is the RS3. Now, sister company Volkswagen also has a fire-spitting hatchback which has become a bit of an icon here on local soil. The Golf R is not to be messed with, it is a vehicle that will run with many sportscars and won't be out of place on a drag strip. What happens when these two pocket bombs go head to head?

Now you might be thinking that the RS3 and Golf R are not quite the right competitors, the RS3 is more powerful, faster, and more expensive, but that does raise a big question. Is the RS3 really worth the premium over the Golf R? Let's have a look at each one to see what is on offer, especially in terms of performance and driveability.

The RS3

The Audi RS3 has been a long-time favourite due to its ability to be both practical for everyday use as well as its uncanny ability to decimate just about everything doubles its value. Offered in both sedan and sportback guise, the latest RS3 brings a host of new driving technologies while retaining that sublime 2.5-litre in-line 5 cylinder.

The new RS3 develops 294kW and 500Nm of torque. It will also hit the 100km/h mark from stand still in around 3.8 seconds. So what makes the RS3 so special, apart from its glorious motor? Well, this 8Y model looks absolutely fantastic- with a preference to the sedan. Key highlights include the aggressive front design with striking LED headlights, the large Audi grille and equally as functional air-intakes on either side. The gloss black treatment adds the overall menacing look.

This new RS3 looks so good from every angle. It comes across as a rally car thanks to its flared wheel arches and its cambered front wheels. Yes, the wheels are cambered like those on a race car for better cornering ability. In fact this RS3 will lap the Nurburgring in the same time as the 1000hp Bugatti Veyron… Let that sink in for a moment. 

The interior continues the theme of sportiness. The standard equipped 12.3-inch Audi virtual cockpit plus displays the revolutions per minute in the “RS Runway'' design. The 10.1-inch touch display in the instrument panel also displays the coolant, engine, and transmission oil temperatures, as well as the g-forces and, optionally, the pressure of the tyres. The infotainment system is pretty much standard Audi and supports Wireless Apple CarPaly.

Another new addition is the RS Torque Rear mode, which makes drifting possible. It is designed for use on closed roads. In this mode, the torque splitter induces considerable oversteer by transferring all of the rearward drive torque to the wheel on the outside of the curve a.k.a Drift Mode…in an Audi.

So what about the Golf R?

 The new Golf R is equally as good-looking as the Audi. The exterior design of the new Golf R includes a new front bumper featuring a motorsport-style splitter and R-specific air intake grilles, with high-gloss black elements. At the top of the radiator grille, the Golf features a blue crossbar that lights up as an LED strip as soon as the engine starts and stretches all the way into the fenders to act as daytime running lights.

 This R-badged Golf however develops 235kW and 400Nm from its EA888 turbocharged four-cylinder motor. While a 6-speed manual transmission is offered in other markets, locally the 2.0-litre motor will be paired to a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, with power delivered to the wheels via an updated 4Motion torque vectoring all-wheel drive system. Customers can expect performance numbers like 100km/h in 4.7 seconds.

The updated 4Motion system boasts selective wheel torque control on the rear axle which means that the opposing rear corner of the car prioritises extra torque while cornering, which should make the ‘8 R highly competitive around a track.

If track times are not what you are after, the Golf-first Drift mode is now a standardised setting to choose from, which gives the car the ability to flick the back end out and rapidly abridge mileage from the rear tyres.


Both cars are extremely competent and entertaining to drive. The RS3 is extremely fast and sounds great. The Golf R is surefooted, nimble and while not as fast as the RS3 it won’t shy away from a good old traffic light dash. It would be the Golf R that gets our vote as it remains a Golf at the end of the day. The Audi feels switched on all the time, it feels like a race car whereas the Golf can be calm when you need it to be. It is the best all-rounder in our opinion.

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