A word from Alex
Hello, and thanks for checking out the latest in our series of buying guide videos. Today, we’re going to be looking at the 2015 onwards 8v generation of the Audi RS3 2.5 TFSI Quattro.
This is the car that really cemented or re-cemented, I should say, Audi’s fame when it comes to turbo five-cylinder engines. As a layout, it’s an engine that had a long old holiday.
We didn’t see it from middle of the 90s, all the way through to 2009 when it came back in the TTRS. But the 8v RS3 was absolutely the model that brought it back into the spotlight.
At its launch in 2015, the RS3 was solely available as a five-door hatchback, the Sportback body style. It had a facelift for the end of 2017 that also introduced the four-door saloon body style.
The car then received a further update in 2018, which also brought in the introduction of the sport edition models. Despite some other changes, all cars use a 2.5-litre 5-cylinder turbocharged engine.
Seven-speed, S-Tronic automatics gearbox, and Haldex four-wheel drive. Standard equipment, what did Audi give you that you did not have to pay for? From 2015, the pre-facelift cars, you got other than the cosmetic changes. A leather interior that was heated as standard, 19-inch rotor design alloy wheels.
DAB digital radio, parking system plus, and the quite distinctive LED headlamps. The facelifted models, now the biggest change with the facelifted models, were actually a major redevelopment of the engine.
Audi switched to a lighter, all-alloy, still 2.55 cylinder, with a newer design of turbocharger as well. Power increased with this to 400 horsepower. Four-wheel drive system gearbox stayed the same. The cosmetic changes were then brought in line with the rest of the A3 range, but the standard equipment improved a lot as well.
In the base price of the car on the facelift models, you got virtual cockpit, satellite navigation, plus the standard stereo was upgraded to Audi sound system with the factory subwoofer. A lot of things people criticized in the earlier cars, Audi fixed for the revised version.
End of 2018, in line with the introduction of new WLTP emissions regulations, cars got another update headline feature being the introduction of a particulate filter in the exhaust system.
At the same time, the sport edition model became available that was mechanically identical to the basic car, but got an improved level of equipment, sunroof, supersport seats, nice wheels, black styling included for less than it would have cost to buy those popular options individually.
Which one do you want?
It’s a very personal thing, it’s a preference thing, and there isn’t really a bad one in the bunch. The earlier cars cost less money, which no one’s going to complain about. Some people prefer the styling of the pre-facelift version, the earlier engine as well, a lot of people will tell you is the nicest sounding of the bunch, myself included.
The facelifted cars got improved tech; having smartphone interface as standard was a really nice feature. And obviously, if you value having the newest, lowest mileage car available, that’s probably going to put you into the 68 plate and onwards cars.
What could you have added over and above the standard specification? What are the desirable options? What do people really look for in these cars? On the pre-face lifted version, what was called Dynamic Pack, was extremely popular.
That gave you magnetic ride control, the adjustable suspension that afforded the car a little bit more compliance isolation from vibration in its softer settings, and better body control, more aggressive steering feel in its dynamic mode.
This pack also included the sports exhaust that, for such a beautiful sounding engine, is a must if you ask me. On the facelifted cars, a similar pack was available that was then called Audi sports pack. Gave you the same options, mag ride, sport exhaust, but also added active tire pressure monitoring as well.
You could, however, if you only wanted, say the mag ride or the sports exhaust on the later cars, specify those bits of equipment individually. The panoramic sunroof, like on a lot of hatchback SUVs estate cars, is extremely popular.
The black interior is probably the most popular colour, but it can be quite a lot of black; adding the sunroof to it really lightens up the cabin. Pre-facelift cars got no satellite navigation as standard; you could spec either the SD card navigation that is also available as a retrofit if you’re looking at a car with no sat-nav.
Or you could go for navigation plus, the slightly more involved better spec hard-drive-based system that included the bigger dash screen that really looks quite nice. Standard speakers on the pre-facelift cars, again, it was a very basic setup. Actually, some people found it quite disappointing; you had two options to upgrade it, though.
Audi sound system improved the speaker’s more powerful application; factory fitted subwoofer. All the bang Olufsen branded speakers that took those and ran with them a little bit further again. All cars got 19-inch wheels as standard. However, you could have as an option wider front wheels.
So rather than eight inches, they went up to eight and a half, using a two five five, rather than a two-three five tire. This was to give the front end more grip, make it feel more aggressive, turn in harder, let you use the power to its fullest. Inside the car, the standard RS3 both before and after the facelift pretty much got the standard A3 sport seat.
They were embossed in the leather with the RS3 script, but it was the standard a3 sport seat, supersport seats, the bucket designer shell back seat. Look great, feel great, very supportive, and came with really lovely diamond-stitched leather as well.
Nothing wacky or revolutionary here, really. Pre-facelift cars it was a fairly standard palette of popular RS colours. Sepang Blue, Daytona grey, panther black, they made up probably the majority of sales.
You could have then with that one of the styling packs, either in matte aluminium that gave you additional silver trim outside the car or gloss black styling pack that works particularly well as a contrast to some of the colours. Inside, you had a choice of the standard sole black leather, or you could also have it in the very pale grey luna silver.
The facelift did introduce a new colour that has proved really popular (Ara blue). General reliability, what goes wrong? What to be careful of? What to look out for? Been out for six years now, 2015 launched, so there’s plenty of information around.
We’ve seen a lot of cars through the doors, and there’s plenty around that have done some miles. And overall, the news is really good, for a performance car, their general reliability is excellent.
A lot of owners have no costs beyond routine maintenance and consumable items. Although that’s not to say they’re perfect, whilst scary or expensive faults are quite rare, particularly so with standard cars, there are some things you want to be aware of, keep an eye out for if you’re looking to purchase an RS3.
The brakes, firstly, as you can see they do use quite a large front brake setup, with the wavy edge on early cars, conventional round discs on later ones. Front discs will last something like 40,000 miles, depending on use.
They’re a reasonably expensive replacement item. So if you are looking at a car that maybe is around that sort of mileage, doesn’t have documented history of new ones, something to be aware of, potentially something to budget for.
Two common-ish complaints with the brake system, more so affecting the early cars again. Squeaking, generally, at low speed, light brake effort, so normal road driving, you can get some undue brake squeak that Audi have corrected by adding some little damper weights onto the caliper to take out the resonance that causes the squeak.
Some owners have also experienced undue vibration through the brake pedal, through the steering, through the floor of the car. That can be caused by run out or warping of the brake disc.
If a car’s been driven excessively, aggressively, carelessly or even the brake discs installed in a haphazard manner, there’s been some contamination, corrosion on the drive flange, for example, that could cause vibration in time as well. We measure the run out of the brake disc, make sure it’s within specification.
Measure the run-out on the face of the hub, check the wheels as well for damage that can happen. If the run-out is simply on the face of the brake disc, and the brake disc has suitable thickness remaining, they can be skimmed to bring them back in the specification, remove the vibration.
But if the brake disc is already worn, it can’t be skimmed and will need to be replaced. Audi themselves actually recommend although you don’t have to replace the early wavy discs with later style round discs, with a new backplate to accompany them.
Fuel pumps, the in-tank fuel pump specifically, a few owners, particularly of early cars, experienced issues with poor running, cutting out at low speed, lack of power, and errors in the ECU relating to fuel pressure, fuel delivery. There is a known issue with the fuel pumps on the early cars.
An awful lot of them got replaced under warranty. There is now a revised part with an accompanying software update. So if you see errors in and around this area, it’s a known documented fix.
Excessive oil consumption. RS3s do burn a little bit of oil in normal use, particularly if driven hard, but it isn’t loads. If you are experiencing really excessive oil consumption, it generally isn’t anything horribly problematic.
It’s not like the engines have an inherent weakness. There’s a little breather valve on top of the engine. There’s a revised part. If yours has failed, that can be accompanied by a hissing noise you’ll hear under the bonnet.
and also, again, on earlier cars, there’s a part of the plastic cylinder head cover that can crack, let crankcase pressure go where it shouldn’t do, and again increase oil consumption. Neither are scary fixes or overly expensive.
Noisy suspension, exactly the same as in our s3 video you might have seen. You can get some noise from the suspension, generally relating to the rear. Early specification, bump stops could cause clunking noises; there’s a revised part that needs to be installed carefully to eradicate this.
And again, that Audi changed; I believe in 2017, there was a redesign of the rear top mounts that could cause thumping over sharper bumps. Haldex pumps, also the same problem that s3s can suffer from. If you particularly from a standing start take-off aggressively in an RS3, you’re getting a poor response, loads of intervention from the traction control or wheel spin, if the stability is in its sport mode or turned off. It’s likely you have an issue with the Haldex pump.
Official guidance is simply to remove it, replace, flush the oil to bring it back. In our experience, once the pumps have failed, and the failure is caused by a buildup of dirt, little particles from the clutch packs in the Haldex oil, gauze gets blocked, the pump runs dry, stops working.
Unfortunately, we’ve never seen one come back after cleaning and replacement, tends to be the fix. They’re not loads of money; it’s well documented, it’s easy to test for. And we’ll get on to correct maintenance of those to avoid it happening again.
Also, on the subject of traction, if you’re getting earlier than expected intervention from your traction stability control, i.e., you’re accelerating dry straight road, traction light flashing before you’d expect it to, known issue, there is a software update to recalibrate the ESP, which fixes it.
RS3s do tend to wear the very inside edge of their front tires. Pop the steering on lock; you don’t need a tire gauge; you can see it if they’re wearing unevenly, which they will do to a degree anyway.
You’re probably looking at an alignment issue. Further to this, a lot of owners just from general niceness and performance and feel and feedback, tend to change from the original equipment Pirelli tire that’s not that well regarded to, well, currently the most popular pilot sport 4s, I’m sure that’ll change in time, but it’s a much nicer, more popular tire than the standard-fit Pirelli.
And certainly helps with the uneven wear issues, again, as long as your alignment is correct. Disappearing DAB, actually, most of the A3 range can do this, but all ra3s get DAB as standard; if one day it ceases being there, i.e., you’ve got FM, AM nothing, known issue and there is a software update easily installed to correct it.
Exhaust flap rattle, the exhaust has mechanical flaps in with little actuators that move them around. They can start rattling; they wear a little bit loose. The official fix is to replace the exhaust back boxes; some clever people, thank you Audi sports forum, have come up with a lovely photo guide to fixing it yourself by basically re-tensioning the springs that work the system. It’s a minor annoyance, a lot of people either live with it or don’t notice it. But if it does bother you, it’s generally easy enough to address.
Also, on the subject of the exhaust, the trims in the rear bumper, so the exhaust tailpipe pieces are known for chipping and corroding. Unfortunately, they just do. When you’ve got the sports exhaust, they’re black; they can discolour, they can start to look slightly unsightly.
Most people just live with it, but they are not the hardest things in the world to repaint if it bothers you. Audi’s official guidance on the subject is basically to blame the customer and tell them to clean their exhaust more often.
Modifications, a subject we’re not going to go into great detail on, but it’s something to hold in mind. If you’re thinking of buying a car that is already modified, few points to hold in mind. Do I still have a warranty, or can I get one?
Can I ensure the car is modified? Am I affecting reliability even down to things like availability of parts if something’s come from a very specific tuner or aftermarket supplier?
And are they legal? In that, unfortunately, doing things like removing the catalytic converters or deleting the particulate filter is not legal to do. In the bevel box or transfer case, a few people have had oil leaks from the housing of this, but there is a revised seal from Audi to alleviate it.
But if you are getting a grinding noise from the gearbox area or a free play in the front of the prop shaft and clunking, it can indicate where in the bevel box itself. Servicing and correct maintenance, all RS3s have Audi’s digital service, the schedule they have no paper service book, no stamps to look at and check through, all the records are held online on a digital database.
Don’t accept the line; it’s all stored online; it’s got full history; look at it yourself. Call Audi, call us, speak with the dealer, you should have a printout detailing the works carried out, and correct maintenance is very important; this is worth some of your time to check thoroughly.
General oil changing, a number of the cars particularly when you were on the standard Audi long life interval, up to two years, up to 19,000 miles. But for a performance car, it isn’t something we generally recommend, unless you really are just doing long motorway trips.
Better practice is after a year or 9,000 miles to do a basic oil change service, and after two years, to do an oil and inspection service. Brake fluid, first one is due at three years, then every subsequent two years.
Audi did actually change the advice on this at the very end of the RS3’s production. So from 2019, Audi simplified that and simply said it’s now every two years for everything from new.
S-Tronic gearbox oil changes, 40,000 miles on all models. There isn’t a particular age recommendation on it. But if you were looking at a very low mileage car that’s a few years old, you might decide to do it a little earlier than the 40 as a bit of preventative maintenance.
The factory schedule for the Haldex differential oil change is three years regardless of mileage. We recommend both doing it sooner than that and doing it slightly differently to how Audi suggests. Your use and your mileage, and if and when it was last done are all things to consider.
But if after a couple of years of ownership, it’s a good idea to change it. Or if you’re doing higher mileage, maybe say 20,000 miles, it’s a good idea to change it. When changing it, before changing it, I should say we like to remove the pump, clean the gauze or the filter that is the inlet of the pump that has no factory service schedule, and refit the pump with new seals before putting the new oil in.
This is a much better way to guarantee onward reliability or repeat failure if a car has needed a Haldex pump in the past. Pre-facelift cars have a 20,000-mile spark plug change interval, post-facelift cars have a 40,000-mile spark plug change interval.
All cars with a panoramic sunroof fitted; it’s recommended to clean and re-grease them every two years. Air filters by the book 60,000 miles; they can be pretty grubby after that number of miles.
But in fairness, the Audi dealers as well actually, they normally recommend to do them at 40,000 as part of your major service regardless.
Thanks for watching our RS3 buying guide video. We hope you found it very helpful, particularly so if you are in the market for an 8V RS3. If that’s raised any further questions or comments, feel free to add them below.
You can call, email us, send a message through the website; we’d love to hear from you. If you already have an RS3, if it’s something that needs repair or some maintenance work, you have some sort of problem you’d like advice on, be fantastic to hear from you, more than happy to help all of our service maintenance work carried out on site.
If you have an RS3 you no longer want, you’re thinking of changing it, upgrading it, part-exchanging, we pay very strong money for the best examples. We’d love a call, love to make an offer to buy your car.