2019 Volkswagen Golf R vs. 2019 Audi RS 3

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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The Golf R has standard whiplash protection, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the whiplash protection system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The RS 3 doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Golf R has standard Maneuver Braking that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The RS 3 doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The Golf R has standard Car-Net, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The RS 3 doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the Golf R and the RS 3 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, all wheel drive, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras and rear cross-path warning.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and with its optional front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Golf R the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 155 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The RS 3 has not been tested, yet.


The Golf R comes with a full 6-year/72000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car. The RS 3’s 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 22000 miles sooner.

There are over 2 times as many Volkswagen dealers as there are Audi dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Golf R’s warranty.


The Volkswagen Golf R’s engine uses a cast iron block for durability, while the RS 3’s engine uses an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Volkswagen vehicles are better in initial quality than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Volkswagen 24th in initial quality. With 2 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 25th.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Golf R gets better fuel mileage than the RS 3:


Golf R



2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

21 city/30 hwy


2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

22 city/30 hwy

RS 3



2.5 turbo 5 cyl.

19 city/28 hwy

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Golf R Auto’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The RS 3 doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Volkswagen Golf R uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended for maximum performance). The RS 3 requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Brakes and Stopping

The Golf R stops shorter than the RS 3:

Golf R

RS 3

70 to 0 MPH

156 feet

157 feet

Car and Driver


The Volkswagen Golf R may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 200 to 300 pounds less than the Audi RS 3.

The Golf R is 7.9 inches shorter than the RS 3, making the Golf R easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

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

Golf R

RS 3

At idle

42 dB

42 dB


79 dB

88 dB

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Golf R a Compact car, while the RS 3 is rated a Subcompact.

The Golf R has 7.5 cubic feet more passenger volume than the RS 3 (93.5 vs. 86).

The Golf R has 1.9 inches more front headroom, 1.1 inches more front shoulder room, 2 inches more rear headroom, .5 inches more rear legroom and .9 inches more rear shoulder room than the RS 3.

Servicing Ease

The Golf R has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The RS 3 doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.


To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Golf R has a standard rear wiper. The RS 3 doesn’t offer a rear wiper.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the Golf R has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The RS 3 doesn’t offer cornering lights.


The Golf was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 13 of the last 13 years. The RS 3 hasn’t been picked since 2018.

Motor Trend selected the Golf as their 2015 Car of the Year. The RS 3 has never been chosen.

The Golf R was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2016. The RS 3 has never been an “All Star.”

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

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