South Africans who are looking for a fast Audi and do not want to wait another year will therefore have to make one tough choice.
Should you buy the shiny new S3, or a powerful second-hand RS3?
It’s up to you whether you like the look of the new Audi S3 more than the old RS3, but there’s no arguing that the newer model shows a clear evolution from its predecessor.
In its S3 guise, it features stylish bumpers with large air intakes and a more aggressive honeycomb grille – while still being recognizable as a model from the same family.
Both come with angular LED headlights and daytime running lights, too, with those on the S3 being a bit more modern.
Down the sides, these vehicles look nearly identical – bar the different 19-inch wheel designs and a slightly more tucked-in waistline on the newer model.
At the rear, however, it’s quite tough to beat an Audi RS in the looks department.
The S3 makes a good attempt with a stylish black diffuser and a quad-exhaust outlet, but the RS3’s large oval tailpipes and menacing rear is beautiful to behold.
Inside, the differences between the two generations become starker, with the RS3 – despite its age – retaining much of its appeal thanks to its RS-model status.
In the older car, you will find Nappa leather upholstery, front sports seats, an RS flat-bottom steering wheel with Alcantara inserts, aluminium pedals, illuminated scuff plates, and RS signage in the cabin.
It also comes with a host of features including climate control, cruise control, and a 7-inch infotainment display that supports Bluetooth.
This particular second-hand RS3 was fitted with a panoramic sunroof and high beam assist, too.
This is challenged by the fourth-generation S3 receiving a completely redesigned dash that makes the new range look more mature than the one it replaces.
Rather than being fitted with circular air conditioning vents and an infotainment screen that looks like it was an afterthought, the fourth-generation S3 boasts more attractive, angular vents with an integrated display that ties the cabin together nicely.
This progressive design is complemented by the flat new centre console with a shortened gear lever and a neat horizontal arrangement of buttons for features like the dual-zone climate control.
In addition, the S3 sports a digital instrument cluster, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, a flat-bottom multifunction steering wheel, ambient lighting, cruise control, a wireless charger, and a 10.1-inch infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support.
It is worth mentioning that the seats in the S3 are wrapped in a fabric/artificial leather upholstery, and there are no Alcantara bits to show off.
The new sedan is then able to carry up to 325 litres of cargo, while the 2018 RS3 supports a cargo capacity of 315 litres.
The fourth-generation Audi S3 and third-generation RS3 have few safety systems in common. Luckily, both of them were awarded a 5-star Euro NCAP crash rating.
Features including ABS, all-round parking sensors, eight airbags, and progressive steering assist are standard in the RS3.
The newer S3 offers ABS with hill hold assist, rear parking sensors, and six airbags in the safety department.
The 2018 Audi RS3 is driven by a 2.5-litre, five-cylinder, turbo-petrol engine connected to a seven-speed S Tronic automatic transmission.
This sends the car to 100km/h in 4.1 seconds and to an electronically-limited top speed of 250km/h.
Providing power in the new Audi S3 is a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-petrol motor – also paired to a seven-speed S Tronic gearbox.
This allows it to sprint to 100km/h in 4.9 seconds, while reaching a 250km/h top speed.
Both cars sit on their generation’s sports suspension set-ups, and both are fitted with the Audi quattro all-wheel-drive system.
This assures class-leading performance, no matter which one you buy.
The Audi S3 Sedan Quattro has a South African starting price of R810,000.
Each purchase includes a 5-year/100,000km Audi Freeway Plan.
The 2018 Audi RS3 Sedan Quattro is going for R829,000 on AutoTrader .