This German hot hatch isn’t something that you should be messing around with

Eight years ago, Audi unveiled the RS3 to a lot of fanfare. It was Ingolstadt’s contribution to the growing popularity of hot hatches that has since taken on a life of its own. Now, it’s 2019 and the RS3 continues to hold the fort for Audi as a 400-horsepower ”Pocket Hercules.” But suppose there was a way to give this Hercules more muscle? Would that be something you’d be interested in? If your answer is “yes,” then might I introduce you to ABT Sportsline’s latest work of art, a performance-centric tuning program designed to give the RS3’s 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine more power than what it’s already capable of producing. In a segment where a model like the Mercedes-AMG A 45 can roll out a 416-horsepower four-banger fresh from the production line, the current RS3 is going to need as much help as it can get to stave off the competition. ABT Sportsline, as it turns out, is here to save the day.

  • 2019 Audi RS3 Hatchback by ABT Sportsline
  • Year:
    2019
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-5
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    464
  • Torque @ RPM:
    398
  • Displacement:
    2.5 L
  • Top Speed:
    177 mph
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • size:
  • Purpose:
  • body style:

Exterior

  • Five different sets of wheels to choose from
  • Aerodynamic upgrades, including fender inserts
  • 19-inch or 20-inch wheels
2019 Audi RS3 Hatchback by ABT Sportsline
- image 849635

As extensive — and impressive — as Audi’s engine upgrade program for the RS3 is, the same can’t be said for the hatchback’s exterior. There are aerodynamic pieces that can be purchased from the tuner, but for the most part, this particular program revolves around the engine upgrades that ABT prepared and developed for the RS3. For what it’s worth, though, Audi can throw in fender inserts on your hot hatch. While it does provide a nice touch of character to the overall aesthetics of the RS3, it’s not that significant to warrant any significant performance improvements.

Fortunately, ABT Sportsline has more options to choose from when it comes to the style of wheels you want to put in your RS3.

The tuner’s online configurator shows five different sets of wheels, including two sets of the 19-inch variety and three sets of the 20-inch persuasion. Each of the wheels come with different finishes, including matte black, diamond-polished, any glossy black diamond polished. Of the available options, I’m most interested in the 20-inch ABT-GR wheels with the glossy black diamond polished lip finish. It gives the RS3 a stealthy and aggressive look, the kind of identity I’d want my hot hatchback to exude.

2019 Audi RS3 Hatchback by ABT Sportsline
- image 849630

The absence of any meaningful upgrades to the exterior is a bit disappointing, but it’s also not the end of the world. There are numerous ways for you to get your vanity fixes, even if they don’t come from ABT Sportsline. You can even score a throng of personalized details from Audi itself, courtesy of Audi Exclusive.

Fancy exterior colors like Ara Blue, Goodwood Green, and Ipanema Brown are among the throngs of color options available from Audi Exclusive.

You’re going to have to check if any of these colors are available to the RS3, but even if they aren’t, there is a host of other color options to choose from. What you need to know is that Audi takes painstaking lengths to create a color that suits your style and preferences, and yours alone. Whether it’s the four-layer paint variety or the six-layer paint variety required of metallic paint finishes, Audi can create a color for you and your RS3.

2019 Audi RS3 Hatchback by ABT Sportsline
- image 849629

Even if ABT Sportsline isn’t as focused on this aspect of the RS3’s personalization potential, it’s comforting to know that the tuner at least has a few items to offer, even if they don’t necessarily speak to all the other options you have at your disposal.

Interior

  • Plenty of carbon fiber trim and accent options
  • Carbon fiber seat frame covers
  • Carbon fiber-covered stering wheel
  • Carbon fiber seat casings
2019 Audi RS3 Hatchback by ABT Sportsline
- image 849627

In what amounts to a pleasant surprise, ABT Sportsline put in a lot of time and effort in offering aftermarket upgrades for the interior of the Audi RS3. That’s not a slight on the German tuner’s capabilities; it’s just that ABT Sportsline is less known for its fancy gear shift knobs and carbon fiber seat casings as it is for its engine upgrades. But give credit to the tuner; the RS3 program not only comes with the aforementioned aftermarket gear shift knob but the carbon fiber seat casings are, in fact, also available.

Not only that, but ABT Sportsline is also offering integrated entrance lights with its own logo illuminated for all to see.

You can also dress up your RS3’s dashboard with carbon fiber and you can double down on the carbon refinements on the seats with carbon fiber seat frame covers.

It’s a few sections short of a complete carbon dress up, but you have to appreciate the effort on ABT Sportsline’s part for even offering these items. The best item on this list, though, is the leather and carbon fiber-covered steering wheel. I can get behind this for all the right reasons. It looks clean, sophisticated, and the sight of that carbon fiber on the lower stem makes the steering wheel look and feel a lot more premium than it is.

2019 Audi RS3 Hatchback by ABT Sportsline
- image 849631

Now, some of you are probably hoping for a bit more from ABT Sportsline in this regard. Maybe some leather and Alcantara options? Perhaps more carbon fiber goodies? Don’t lose hope on acquiring these pieces, even if they don’t come from ABT Sportsline. Other tuners offer upgrades of the cosmetic variety, and even if you find yourselves confused on who to go to, you can always just fall back to Audi Exclusive and take advantage of what the German automaker’s personalization division has to offer.

You can choose from a variety of styles, colors, and materials from Audi Exclusive’s extensive list of options.

I know most of these options are more appropriate with upper-tier models like the A5, A6, and A8 sedans, but there’s nothing wrong with being different, right? Take Audi’s leather options, for example, or even the wood trims that you normally see in Audi’s big sedans. If that’s what you want to put in your RS3s, then you can get them.

If Audi Exclusive’s options are a little too much for your taste buds, you can simply buy any of the available options and packages for the RS3 when you take delivery of the hot hatch. The RS Design Selection package, for example, comes with leatherette-covered door armrests and Alcantara knee pads with Crescendo Red stitching. The air vents and the accent rings are also dressed in the same red shade with the seatbelts coming with red edges. Oh, and you can’t forget about the RS embroidered floor mats. They’re meant to get dirty, but they still come with the package.

2019 Audi RS3 Hatchback by ABT Sportsline
- image 849633

How you want the interior of your Audi RS3 to look and feel ultimately boils down to what you want. ABT Sportsline has a suite of upgrades available that could be interesting to the right buyer. If they’re not, then you can go elsewhere to get your fix. Whatever the case, the RS3’s interior is ripe for some upgrades.

Drivetrain

  • Power S performance package with software tune and new intercooler
  • 464 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque
  • New top speed of 177 mph
  • More powerful Power R program drops 500 horsepower
  • Suspension kit and anti-roll bars included
2019 Audi RS3 Hatchback by ABT Sportsline
- image 849628

At the heart of every ABT Sportsline aftermarket kit is an engine upgrade program that breaks the proverbial glass ceiling on what a car like the RS3 is capable of. In this case, the RS3’s 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-five cylinder engine is capable of producing 394 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. Take those numbers for what they’re worth and it’s not hard to see that the RS3 is already a beast in standard form. Unfortunately for the Audi hot hatch, Mercedes-AMG just released the 416-horsepower AMG 45 S, a.k.a. the world’s raunchiest hot hatchback, at the 2019 Goodwood Festival of Speed, stealing whatever thunder the RS3 had already earned.

With little recourse than to take the aftermarket route, Audi at least has ABT Sportsline on its side.

The German tuner is known for its tuning kits for all things Four Rings prepared a new engine upgrade package for the RS3 that’s specifically designed to turn the Audi hot hatch into the meanest of its kind in the business.

Specifically, ABT Sportsline’s ABT Power S performance package comes with a new intercooler and a high-tech engine control unit software tune that works in concert to increase the turbocharged engine’s output. With the software tune and new intercooler in place, ABT Sportsline managed to massage the RS3’s output and tack in an extra 70 ponies and 44 pound-feet of torque into the equation. The result is a new output of 464 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque.

Wrap your heads around those figures, folks. A hot hatchback with 464 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque at its disposal isn’t normal. In fact, it’s beyond what any hot hatch should be capable of. But this is also the world we live in now. Performance cars don’t have to carry the “sports car” label anymore. Even vehicle types that used to be unassuming in their appearance can punch you in the mouth if you don’t give them the respect they deserve.

This is what you can expect now from an ABT Sportsline-tuned Audi RS3. The tuner didn’t say how much of the power spike contributes to the hot hatch’s improved performance times, but seeing as the stock RS3 can sprint from 0 to 62 mph in 4.1 seconds, you can be assured that the 464-horsepower RS3 can do it in under four seconds with more room to spare. That kind of performance ability used to be complete madness in the hot hatch segment. Now it borders on normal.

2019 Audi RS3 Hatchback by ABT Sportsline
- image 849632
In addition to the expected improvements in acceleration times, the ABT Sportsline-tuned RS3 also scraps the hot hatch’s factory-limited top speed of 155 mph in favor of a more hair-raising top speed of 177 mph.

I don’t think I need to tell anyone on what happens when you have a car like the RS3 with that kind of attainable speed in its grasp. Best thing you can do? Wear those seatbelts and brace yourselves.

In the seemingly unlikely event that ABT Sportsline’s “Power S” tuning kit isn’t enough to satisfy your thirst for power and speed, you can upgrade to the tuner’s “Power R” tuning program. The same set of upgrades are available in this particular kit, but by virtue of this being the more expensive program, ABT Sportsline’s offering an extra 36 horsepower into the mix, bringing the output from the RS3’s 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine to a mouth-watering 500 horsepower.

It’s fair to ask at this point: can you handle a 500-horsepower hot hatch? It seems a bit excessive to me, but given how the output numbers just keep rising and rising in this segment, it probably won’t take long for an automaker — maybe it’s Audi — to roll out a next-gen hot hatch that packs this kind of power, even if it comes in hybrid or all-electric form. Either way, you’re going to need loads of testicular fortitude to be able to handle a 500-horsepower Audi RS3 that can split a 0-to-60-mph time in just 3.7 seconds.

2019 Audi RS3 Hatchback by ABT Sportsline
- image 849637

At this point, anytime you avail of the German tuner’s tuning kit, it’s important to throw in chassis and suspension improvements as well. For this particular program, a height-adjustable suspension kit is a solid option, as are suspension springs that ABT Sportsline developed in-house.

The suspension kit, in particular, can lower the RS3’s ride height anywhere from 10 to 35 mm (0.394 to 1.378 inches) improving the hot hatch’s stability, especially in moments where you’re getting a little too frisky with the RS3’s new-fangled power output.

Throw in the anti-roll bars, too. These should help reduce understeer and lower the strain of the wheels at the inside of turns. The anti-roll bars also help improve the hot hatch’s handling so you can drive with a bit more confidence.

Pricing

2019 Audi RS3 Hatchback by ABT Sportsline
- image 849630

ABT Sportsline doesn’t release pricing details for its programs, in part because there’s a large degree of customization that’s available to prospective clients. Pricing would differ depending on what parts and equipment are available, or even what among these parts and equipment a specific client wants to get. Based on experience, though, a typical ABT Sportsline program fetches around $20,000 to $30,000 depending on the kind of engine upgrade program that’s chosen. So expect to spend that much if you’re looking to score the “Power S” engine upgrade kit. If you’re interested in the “Power R” kit, you’ll obviously spend more for that, maybe even around $35,000 to $40,000 depending on the other items you check in ABT Sportsline’s tuning checklist. Either way, this program isn’t cheap. It’s going to turn your RS3 into a full-blown hot hatch monster, though. I’d say that’s a fair trade-off.

Final Thoughts

2019 Audi RS3 Hatchback by ABT Sportsline
- image 849636

ABT Sportsline’s reputation in the aftermarket auto scene is rooted in all the years that it has developed quality tuning kits for a lot of automakers, Audi included. This new program for the RS3 isn’t any different. Sure, it’s lacking in terms of the volume of upgrades you’ll get, but if you know ABT’s mantra of quality over quantity, you can understand why the German tuner opted to place its focus on building a top-quality engine upgrade program for the RS3 and little else on the periphery. The result speaks for itself, too. A 70-horsepower bump from a software upgrade? That’s impressive stuff. And if you’re feeling particularly frisky, the tuner’s “Power S” tuning kit can drop 500 horsepower on your lap at a drop of a hat. We’re not talking about novelty power bumps here. This is serious business. Can you handle that kind of power increase with the Audi RS3 hatchback? If for nothing else, I’d like to see you try.

  • Leave it
    • Very little in the way of aesthetics
    • You’re better off dressing up your RS3 using Audi Exclusive
    • Can you a handle a 500-horsepower hatchback?

Further reading

2018 Audi RS 3 Sportback High Resolution Exterior
- image 705087

Read our full review on the 2018 Audi RS3.

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