2019 Audi RS 3 vs. 2019 Subaru WRX

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The RS 3’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The WRX doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Audi RS 3 are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Subaru WRX has only front height-adjustable seat belts.

The RS 3 has a standard Secondary Collision Brake Assist, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The WRX doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Both the RS 3 and the WRX have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, all-wheel drive, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras and available lane departure warning systems.

Warranty

The RS 3 comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The WRX’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The RS 3’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the WRX’s (12 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

The camshafts in the RS 3’s engine are driven by a hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs. The WRX STI 2.5 turbo 4 cyl.’s camshafts are driven by a rubber belt that needs periodic replacement. If the WRX’s cam drive belt breaks the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the RS 3 has a standard 150-amp alternator. The WRX’s standard 130-amp alternator and largest (STI) 110-amp alternator aren’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Audi vehicles are better in initial quality than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 25th in initial quality. With 10 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 28th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 13th in reliability, above the industry average. With 26 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 24th.

Engine

The RS 3’s 2.5 turbo 5 cyl. produces 126 more horsepower (394 vs. 268) and 96 lbs.-ft. more torque (354 vs. 258) than the WRX’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The RS 3’s 2.5 turbo 5 cyl. produces 84 more horsepower (394 vs. 310) and 64 lbs.-ft. more torque (354 vs. 290) than the WRX STI’s standard 2.5 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the Audi RS 3 is faster than the Subaru WRX 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. (automatics tested):

 

RS 3

WRX

Zero to 60 MPH

3.5 sec

5.5 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

8.7 sec

14.4 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

4.3 sec

6.4 sec

Quarter Mile

11.9 sec

14.3 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

117 MPH

99 MPH

Top Speed

174 MPH

150 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the RS 3 Auto gets better fuel mileage than the WRX CVT with its standard engine (19 city/28 hwy vs. 18 city/24 hwy).

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Audi RS 3 higher (3 out of 10) than the Subaru WRX (1). This means the RS 3 produces up to 22.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the WRX every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

The Audi RS 3 comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the WRX.

The RS 3 offers a standard sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The WRX doesn’t offer an SMG.

The RS 3’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The WRX doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the RS 3’s brake rotors are larger than those on the WRX:

 

RS 3

WRX

WRX STI

Front Rotors

14.6 inches

12.4 inches

13.4 inches

Rear Rotors

12.2 inches

11.3 inches

12.8 inches

The RS 3’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs standard on the WRX are solid, not vented.

The RS 3 offers optional heat-treated ceramic brake rotors, which last ten to twenty times as long as conventional cast iron rotors, don’t rust, don’t fade during repeated high speed braking, and their lighter weight contribute to better braking, handling and acceleration. The WRX doesn’t offer ceramic brake rotors.

The RS 3 stops shorter than the WRX:

 

RS 3

WRX

 

70 to 0 MPH

157 feet

160 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the RS 3’s optional front tires are larger than the largest tires available on the WRX (255/30R19 vs. 245/40R18).

The RS 3’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the WRX’s standard 45 series tires. The RS 3’s optional 255/30R19 front tires have a lower 30 series profile than the WRX STI’s 35 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the RS 3 has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the WRX.

Suspension and Handling

The RS 3 offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The WRX’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the RS 3 is 1.2 inches wider in the front than on the WRX.

The RS 3 handles at .98 G’s, while the WRX STI Limited pulls only .90 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Chassis

The RS 3 is 4.6 inches shorter than the WRX, making the RS 3 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the RS 3 is quieter than the WRX STI:

 

RS 3

WRX

At idle

42 dB

54 dB

70 MPH Cruising

70 dB

75 dB

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Audi service is better than Subaru. J.D. Power ranks Audi third in service department satisfaction. With a 45% lower rating, Subaru is ranked 18th.

Ergonomics

The power windows standard on both the RS 3 and the WRX have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the RS 3 is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The WRX prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The RS 3’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The WRX’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

If the windows are left open on the RS 3 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle or from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the WRX can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The RS 3’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The WRX’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The RS 3 has standard headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The WRX doesn’t offer headlight washers.

The RS 3 has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. When the ignition turns off, the headlights turn off after a delay timed to allow you to securely get to your front door. The WRX has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the STI/Limited.

The RS 3 has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The WRX offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The RS 3 has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the WRX STI.

Both the RS 3 and the WRX offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the RS 3 has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The WRX doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

Recommendations

The RS 3 was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” in 2018. The WRX hasn’t been picked since 2003.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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