Unitronic S3 to an RS3 - AudiWorld Forums

Notices
Audi A3 / S3 / RS 3 MKII Discussion forum for the 2015 and up Audi A3, S3 and RS3 - including the upcoming E-tron and TDI models

Unitronic S3 to an RS3

Old 07-10-2018, 09:04 PM
  #1  
Audiworld Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: VA
Posts: 25
Default Unitronic S3 to an RS3

Hi Everyone,

A little while ago I did a write up on the RS3 vs S4 on a few forums to share my thoughts, one of the commenters had a good idea on doing a write up on how the S3 stacks up to the RS3. I liked the idea, and I owned a Unitronic tuned S3 for 3 years so why not do a comparison?

Details:

2015 Audi S3 Premium Plus- Dynamic package (for MRC and 19 inch wheels, believe this changed the year after to the sport package or something), B&O sound system, MMI Tech package, LED light package, Unitronic Stage 1+ ECU tune and Unitronic Stage 1 DSG tune.
2018 Audi RS3: Loaded minus the RS design package, and the Dynamic Plus Package.

Interior/Exterior

The RS3 wins hands down for the exterior battle. The exterior is more aggressive looking thanks to the different grill, diffusers, and massive dual exhaust outlets. I also greatly enjoy the "Audi Sport" hologram that shines down from the side mirrors onto the pavement as a tasteful touch to the RS3. Interior wise things are mostly identical. The main differences here are that the RS3 gets RS3 illuminated RS kick panels, RS badging throughout the interior, and Alcantara inserts. To me this is enough to over come the lack of a home link and give the RS3 the win for the interior over.

Driving/livability

Around town the S3 in stock trim loses pretty handedly in my book. I find my RS3 in comfort to be softer than my 15 S3 was in comfort mode, in fact virtually every mode in the RS3 is just better suited to the cause than my 15 S3. Not only is it better chassis wise, but it is better when driving away from a dead stop. My S3 always had hesitation and lag when moving from a dead stop, and this made around town driving a little annoying at times. Not only this, but the S3 was just nowhere near as fun. My RS3 around town shows its loveable personality and tries to goad me into doing things I shouldnít do on public roads while I hear the turbo 5 burble with the baffles open. It is just another level of fun factor all while being the better daily driver.

Using ďfun factorĒ as a segue into spirited driving, how do the RS3 and S3 differ? Truthfully they share some similarities. You can feel the eagerness and agility that was built upon in the RS3 from the S3. In a corner the S3 was always eager, and pretty nimble on its feet. You feel this in the RS3 just on a whole new level. The RS3 has greater levels of grip and the Quattro system does a much better job of transferring power to keep you rocketing through a corner. This combination makes the RS3 feel like it is on rail, and always ready to carve up any twisties you want to through at it.

The corner carving proís donít stop here as there is still one more crucial pro the RS3 has going for it over the S3, the steering. While I found the S3 to be weighted well, it didnít really communicate with me at all. The RS3 does suffer Audiís famous numb steering, but it isnít totally numb. The RS3ís steering does communicate with you some to let you know what is going on so you arenít solely relying on the chassis for clues. Not only this, but I find the steering weight to be better on the RS3 in each of the driving modes when my S3 was set to the same mode.

Onto the other half of the performance battle, straight line thrills. The S3 has the ability to humble a large amount of cars in stock trim when using launch control. It is fast and pushes you into the seat. Still by comparison the RS3 feels about a full second quicker than my S3 did stock. It does not matter whether the pull is from a dead stop, a rolling start, or highway the RS3 is on a different level in power. It isnít just the fact that the RS3 feels quicker, it is more fun. This thing slames you into the seat with great authority as the turbo 5 adds a hair raising exhaust note while the RS3.

Add in the Unitronic Stage 1+ ECU and Stage 1 DSG tune to the S3, what does this change? Well it changes some things in favor of the S3. Around town the tune combination helped my S3ís lag from a dead stop, to the point that it leaves more smoothly than my RS3 does in stock trim. The DSG tune provides better shift points, and the enhanced drive modes that give the transmission the edge in responsiveness from a dead stop. As noticeable as these improvements were with the tunes over my stock S3, I still give the win to my RS3. In comfort mode the RS3 is still softer. Perhaps there are improvements in MRC from my 15 S3ís MRC to my an 18 S3 MRC, but the RS3 is certainly smoother than my S3 was over bumps in comfort mode. Plus the RS3 still provided smooth shifts around town, and it still has fun factor in spades over the S3 thanks to its personality.

For performance the Unitronic tune pairing with my S3 made a noticeable difference. The tunes felt OEM, but under WOT the extra power gave my S3 a welcomed level of violence. The S3 would now push you into the seat with authority regardless of the type of pull you were making. The shifts also felt quicker than my S3 did stock. This definitely brings things closer to the RS3 in terms of power. Still, the RS3 does feel quicker in stock trim than my Unitronic tuned S3, and I found the RS3 more thrilling. I found it more thrilling thanks to the RS3ís glorious engine, and again the RS3ís personality. Straight line power is only half the battle though. In a corner the Unitronic tunes did help my S3 better itself as the added power is welcome, and shift points are great. As much as the tunes helped my S3, it isn't enough to make things close between the two cars. The engine, suspension, brakes, steering, confidence, and fun factor are all noticeably in the RS3's favor.

Conclusion:

So is the RS3 worth the price gap? For me, without a doubt. So far there is not a day that has gone buy where I miss my S3 over the RS3. The Unitronic tunes gives the S3 some edges in certain areas, but it isnít enough to say that the price gap isnít worth it for me. The RS3 is just a better car, and it should be. It is a substantial amount more, and Audi did their homework to make sure the RS3 was worth it for those who have the extra money to play with. The RS3 does the majority of driving aspects noticeably better than my S3, and it has key components that the S3 will never have in this body style. Not only this, but the RS3 is just flat out more fun to drive regardless of your driving situation.
Whiteshadow89 is offline  
Old 07-10-2018, 09:31 PM
  #2  
AudiWorld Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 91
Default

I traded in my 2017 S3 for a 2018 RS3. The 2017 S3 was much improved over the 2015, so Iíve read. To me, my S3 had a lighter more sharp turn in regarding steering. It felt like it handled better than my RS3. It also stayed in first gear longer than the RS3 at partial throttle. Just driving mellow around town I feel like the RS3 just shifts into 2nd gear too quick. I drive it in dynamic, and sport. I feel like I need to completely mash the throttle in the RS3 to appreciate how much power it has, vs 1/2 throttle in the S3 felt very strong. I canít tell a whole lot of difference between the 2 cars at up to 1/2 throttle. But push the RS3 and it is noticeably stronger. Exterior and interior are superior to me in the RS3. And call me strange, but I happen to like the RS3 rims. That differentiates it from the S3 and A3 for that matter. When guys are putting aftermarket rims on their RS3ís, to me their car now looks like a common A3. And I also own a 2018 A3 Quattro, so not bashing the A3, as I obviously love that car.

Anyhow, my 2 cents, and thanks for your review.

Last edited by Rans09vert; 07-10-2018 at 09:33 PM.
Rans09vert is offline  
Old 07-11-2018, 07:51 AM
  #3  
AudiWorld Member
 
uniqueMR's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2018
Location: Chicago
Posts: 173
Default

Nice write-up. I will jump into RS once done with S
uniqueMR is offline  
Old 07-11-2018, 12:38 PM
  #4  
AudiWorld Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Tyler, TX
Posts: 126
Default

Originally Posted by Rans09vert View Post
I traded in my 2017 S3 for a 2018 RS3. The 2017 S3 was much improved over the 2015, so Iíve read. To me, my S3 had a lighter more sharp turn in regarding steering. It felt like it handled better than my RS3. It also stayed in first gear longer than the RS3 at partial throttle. Just driving mellow around town I feel like the RS3 just shifts into 2nd gear too quick. I drive it in dynamic, and sport. I feel like I need to completely mash the throttle in the RS3 to appreciate how much power it has, vs 1/2 throttle in the S3 felt very strong. I canít tell a whole lot of difference between the 2 cars at up to 1/2 throttle. But push the RS3 and it is noticeably stronger. Exterior and interior are superior to me in the RS3. And call me strange, but I happen to like the RS3 rims. That differentiates it from the S3 and A3 for that matter. When guys are putting aftermarket rims on their RS3ís, to me their car now looks like a common A3. And I also own a 2018 A3 Quattro, so not bashing the A3, as I obviously love that car.

Anyhow, my 2 cents, and thanks for your review.
Thanks. I think the issue we see with most people saying the RS3 is so much better in handling and suspension is because they are coming from 2015/2016 models where this seems to be greatly improved in the 2017/2018 models. I have mag-ride on my 2017 S3 and I have to say it feels pretty comfortable, especially compared to the STI I had before. Unlike many people - I prefer the looks of the S3 over the RS3 (at least the front fascia - I will say the RS3 dual exhaust looks much better than the quad tips we get) and I like the more muted interior of the S3 compared to the RS3 (again, just my opinion). I will disagree with you and agree with the majority that I do believe the stock RS3 wheels are ugly, although I don't love my black optic wheels either, and would like to eventually get my hands on they S3 regular dynamic package wheels.
Nachos Libres is offline  
Old 07-11-2018, 12:56 PM
  #5  
AudiWorld Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Breckenridge,CO
Posts: 169
Default

I was torn when buying a S3 vs RS3. I just could not justify the price jump. Coming from a M3 the RS3 just did not feel special. It is rumored the new M3 will be awd. I might spring for it in a few years.
M0J0 is offline  
Old 07-11-2018, 02:16 PM
  #6  
AudiWorld Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Tyler, TX
Posts: 126
Default

Originally Posted by M0J0 View Post
I was torn when buying a S3 vs RS3. I just could not justify the price jump. Coming from a M3 the RS3 just did not feel special. It is rumored the new M3 will be awd. I might spring for it in a few years.
Haha, this is why I love opinions and just shows that no one car is going to be the best for every single person. I drove my friends 2018 M3 on a trip a couple of weeks ago and honestly felt underwhelmed - especially seeing as how it is a $90k car. Maybe it was because it was a 6 speed manual - which I honestly didn't care for - but it didn't feel any faster than my S3 and I actually preferred the interior of my S3 to the BMW (aside from the heads up display and the much bigger infotainment screen).
Nachos Libres is offline  
Old 07-11-2018, 04:29 PM
  #7  
Audiworld Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Posts: 39
Default

Good points as far as comparing a facelifted S3 to an RS3. At what price delta does the RS3 not make sense? I just closed a rediculous deal on a well equipped S3. $49K sticker for $36,600. Is the RS3 worth $30K more than an S3?
Kurac is offline  
Old 07-11-2018, 05:55 PM
  #8  
AudiWorld Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Tyler, TX
Posts: 126
Default

Originally Posted by Kurac View Post
Good points as far as comparing a facelifted S3 to an RS3. At what price delta does the RS3 not make sense? I just closed a rediculous deal on a well equipped S3. $49K sticker for $36,600. Is the RS3 worth $30K more than an S3?
Lol, no.
Nachos Libres is offline  
Old 07-11-2018, 06:18 PM
  #9  
AudiWorld Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Breckenridge,CO
Posts: 169
Default

Originally Posted by Nachos Libres View Post
Haha, this is why I love opinions and just shows that no one car is going to be the best for every single person. I drove my friends 2018 M3 on a trip a couple of weeks ago and honestly felt underwhelmed - especially seeing as how it is a $90k car. Maybe it was because it was a 6 speed manual - which I honestly didn't care for - but it didn't feel any faster than my S3 and I actually preferred the interior of my S3 to the BMW (aside from the heads up display and the much bigger infotainment screen).
I had the old E92. The newer M3s were not as good. I miss having a standard. The interior of the Audi's is leaps and a ton better than BMW. Well for now. The S3 and the RS3 felt slow and souless compared to my E92. Though I know the RS3 is faster. I can't really drive fast in Summit County anyways. It is lined with cops. Everyone has an opinion!
M0J0 is offline  
Old 07-12-2018, 07:53 AM
  #10  
Audiworld Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: VA
Posts: 25
Default

Originally Posted by M0J0 View Post
I had the old E92. The newer M3s were not as good. I miss having a standard. The interior of the Audi's is leaps and a ton better than BMW. Well for now. The S3 and the RS3 felt slow and souless compared to my E92. Though I know the RS3 is faster. I can't really drive fast in Summit County anyways. It is lined with cops. Everyone has an opinion!
Huh, that might be the first time I have heard someone refer to an RS3 as slow and souless; whether average joe or a credible publication. This is why opinions are great, and car variety for competition is always welcomed. What really works for someone may not work for someone else. Cheers man.

Originally Posted by Kurac View Post
Good points as far as comparing a facelifted S3 to an RS3. At what price delta does the RS3 not make sense? I just closed a rediculous deal on a well equipped S3. $49K sticker for $36,600. Is the RS3 worth $30K more than an S3?
That would depend on the person. There are people on other forums that have done this, and for me after selling my S3 the price gap I refinanced was a little higher than that. If I were you I would enjoy your S3 for a while before looking to upgrade, you just bought it. At 36.6K that S3 is a steal.

Originally Posted by uniqueMR View Post
Nice write-up. I will jump into RS once done with S
Fair enough, enjoy the S! Loved mine.

Originally Posted by Nachos Libres View Post
Thanks. I think the issue we see with most people saying the RS3 is so much better in handling and suspension is because they are coming from 2015/2016 models where this seems to be greatly improved in the 2017/2018 models. I have mag-ride on my 2017 S3 and I have to say it feels pretty comfortable, especially compared to the STI I had before. Unlike many people - I prefer the looks of the S3 over the RS3 (at least the front fascia - I will say the RS3 dual exhaust looks much better than the quad tips we get) and I like the more muted interior of the S3 compared to the RS3 (again, just my opinion). I will disagree with you and agree with the majority that I do believe the stock RS3 wheels are ugly, although I don't love my black optic wheels either, and would like to eventually get my hands on they S3 regular dynamic package wheels.
Yea I probably should have put a subjective comment for the interior/exterior section as what one person really likes, another may not. I agree, the S3's regular dynamic wheels were spectacular. For me I liked them as much as my black optic wheels which I also like a lot. It wouldn't surprise me if Audi made adjustments to their MRC over the years for it to behave more how an Audi should.
Originally Posted by Rans09vert View Post
I traded in my 2017 S3 for a 2018 RS3. The 2017 S3 was much improved over the 2015, so Iíve read. To me, my S3 had a lighter more sharp turn in regarding steering. It felt like it handled better than my RS3. It also stayed in first gear longer than the RS3 at partial throttle. Just driving mellow around town I feel like the RS3 just shifts into 2nd gear too quick. I drive it in dynamic, and sport. I feel like I need to completely mash the throttle in the RS3 to appreciate how much power it has, vs 1/2 throttle in the S3 felt very strong. I canít tell a whole lot of difference between the 2 cars at up to 1/2 throttle. But push the RS3 and it is noticeably stronger. Exterior and interior are superior to me in the RS3. And call me strange, but I happen to like the RS3 rims. That differentiates it from the S3 and A3 for that matter. When guys are putting aftermarket rims on their RS3ís, to me their car now looks like a common A3. And I also own a 2018 A3 Quattro, so not bashing the A3, as I obviously love that car.

Anyhow, my 2 cents, and thanks for your review.
Interesting feedback, thanks! Yea, it doesn't surprise me that Audi would have tweaked the S3's MRC over the year's. Interesting that you found the S3 to feel better handling, even though the RS3 is registering higher stats. For me it wasn't even close. See I disagree, at 1/2 throttle in my RS3 felt more potent than my S3. Granted I am running tuned now, but still even in stock trim I didn't find my S3 to feel more potent at 1/2 throttle or under. If you are willing, I would recommend you try out Unitronics Stage 1+ ECU and Stage 1 DSG tune. I loved my RS3 stock, but those tunes made a wonderful difference. I agree, I actually like the RS3's rims. They look nice, and thankfully are easier to clean than my S3's dynamic package wheels.
Whiteshadow89 is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Thread Starter
Forum
Replies
Last Post
markN1689
Audi A3 / S3 / RS 3 MKII
5
08-27-2018 04:48 PM
Shankar
Audi A3 / S3 / RS 3 MKII
19
06-17-2018 02:14 PM
Jason Teller
Audi News Forum
1
05-19-2006 12:52 PM


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Quick Reply: Unitronic S3 to an RS3


Contact Us Archive Advertising Cookie Policy Privacy Statement Terms of Service

© 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
 
  • Ask a Question
    Get answers from community experts
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: