2019 Volkswagen GTI vs. 2019 Audi RS 3

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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The GTI SE/Autobahn 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 GTI 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, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors 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 GTI 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 GTI 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 GTI’s warranty.


The Volkswagen GTI’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 GTI gets better fuel mileage than the RS 3:




2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

24 city/32 hwy


2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

25 city/31 hwy

RS 3


2.5 turbo 5 cyl.

19 city/28 hwy

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the GTI Automatic’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.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Volkswagen GTI higher (7 out of 10) than the Audi RS 3 (3). This means the GTI produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the RS 3 every 15,000 miles.


The Volkswagen GTI may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 350 to 550 pounds less than the Audi RS 3.

The GTI is 8.3 inches shorter than the RS 3, making the GTI easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The design of the Volkswagen GTI amounts to more than styling. The GTI has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .31 Cd. That is lower than the RS 3 (.33) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the GTI get better fuel mileage.

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


RS 3

At idle

39 dB

42 dB


80 dB

88 dB

70 MPH Cruising

67 dB

70 dB

Passenger Space

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

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

The GTI 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.

Cargo Capacity

The GTI has a larger trunk with its rear seat up than the RS 3 (22.8 vs. 10 cubic feet).

Servicing Ease

The GTI 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 GTI has a standard rear wiper. The RS 3 doesn’t offer a rear wiper.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the GTI Rabbit/SE/Autobahn 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 GTI Autobahn’s Park Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The RS 3 doesn’t offer an automated parking system.


The GTI 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 GTI as their 2015 Car of the Year. The RS 3 has never been chosen.

The GTI was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” for 5 of the last 12 years. The RS 3 has never been an “All Star.”

The GTI was selected by Automobile Magazine as their 2010 Car of the Year. The RS 3 has never been chosen.

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

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