2019 Audi RS 3 vs. 2019 Volkswagen GTI

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 GTI 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 Volkswagen GTI has only front height-adjustable seat belts.

The RS 3 has all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The GTI doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

Both the RS 3 and the GTI have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes and lane departure warning systems.

Warranty

The RS 3 comes with free roadside assistance for 4 years unlimited miles. Audi will send help if you run out of gas, need a jump-start, lock your keys in or need any assistance on the road. Volkswagen doesn’t give free roadside assistance for the GTI.

The RS 3’s corrosion warranty is 2 years longer than the GTI’s (12 vs. 10 years).

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 7 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 12th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Audi 9 places higher in reliability than Volkswagen.

Engine

The RS 3’s 2.5 turbo 5 cyl. produces 166 more horsepower (394 vs. 228) and 96 lbs.-ft. more torque (354 vs. 258) than the GTI’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Road and Track the Audi RS 3 is faster than the Volkswagen GTI (automatics tested):

RS 3

GTI

Zero to 30 MPH

1.4 sec

2.6 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

3.7 sec

5.9 sec

Zero to 80 MPH

6 sec

9.5 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

9.2 sec

14.6 sec

Quarter Mile

12.1 sec

14.5 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

114.9 MPH

99.7 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

The RS 3 has 1.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the GTI (14.5 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

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

Brakes and Stopping

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

RS 3

GTI

GTI SE/Autobahn

Front Rotors

14.6 inches

12.3 inches

13.4 inches

Rear Rotors

12.2 inches

10.7 inches

12.2 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 GTI 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 GTI doesn’t offer ceramic brake rotors.

The RS 3 stops much shorter than the GTI:

RS 3

GTI

80 to 0 MPH

204 feet

214 feet

Road and Track

70 to 0 MPH

157 feet

163 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

116 feet

118 feet

Road and Track

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the RS 3 has larger standard tires than the GTI (235/35R19 vs. 225/40R18). The RS 3’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the GTI (F:255/30R19 & R:235/35R19 vs. 225/40R18).

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 GTI’s standard 40 series tires. The RS 3’s optional 255/30R19 front and 235/35R19 rear tires have a lower 30 series front and 35 series rear profile than the GTI’s 40 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the RS 3 has standard 19-inch wheels. Only 18-inch wheels are available on the GTI.

Suspension and Handling

The RS 3’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (58.2% to 41.8%) than the GTI’s (60.4% to 39.6%). This gives the RS 3 more stable handling and braking.

The RS 3 handles at .96 G’s, while the GTI SE pulls only .87 G’s of cornering force in a Road and Track skidpad test.

Chassis

As tested by Car and Driver while at idle, the interior of the RS 3 is quieter than the GTI Autobahn (42 vs. 52 dB).

Cargo Capacity

A standard locking glovebox keeps your small valuables safer in the RS 3. The GTI doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Audi service is better than Volkswagen. J.D. Power ranks Audi third in service department satisfaction. With a 43% lower rating, Volkswagen is ranked 16th.

Ergonomics

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 GTI can’t use the remote to operate the windows.

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 GTI doesn’t offer headlight washers.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the RS 3 has standard extendable sun visors. The GTI doesn’t offer extendable visors.

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 GTI 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 GTI Autobahn.

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

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