2025 Audi RS3 Shattered the BMW M2’s Nurburgring Lap Record by 5 Seconds

The new RS3 logged a 7:33 time, thanks to stickier rubber and a host of suspension upgrades.
Lap record for new Audi RS 3 preproduction model
Lap record for new Audi RS 3 preproduction model Audi/Daniel Wollstein

Audi is drumming up excitement for the release of the 2025 RS3 in the best way possible for a performance car: by setting a new record at the Nürburgring. Audi Sport racing and development driver Frank Stippler logged a new time to beat in the compact car class at the Nordschleife, at 7 minutes and 33.123 seconds. That’s more than five seconds faster than the previous lap record for a compact, set by Jörg Weidinger behind the wheel of a BMW M2. Your move, BMW.

Stippler was piloting a pre-production model of the new Audi RS3, which retains the 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine of the outgoing model. The throaty roar is still there thanks to the 1-2-4-5-3 firing order of the cylinders, and the TFSI engine’s output stays flat from before at 395 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. Still, the new RS3 managed to outdo the previous RS3’s lap time at the Green Hell by seven seconds (7:40.748), and outperform a lightened Honda Civic Type R by 11 seconds (7:44.881). It’s worth noting that the Type R’s performance still holds the record for front-wheel-drive cars, strictly speaking, and the RS3 boasts Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system.

It’s also worth pointing out that the 2025 RS3 test mule was riding on Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R semi-slick tires, while the BMW M2 that previously set the Nürburgring record for compacts rounded the 12.9 mile lap in 7 minutes and 38.706 seconds on Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. That’s going to make a big difference.

As for the new-for-2025 RS3, it will sport a facelift rather than a full redesign, but there are tweaks to the front and rear ends that we can make out despite the test mule’s camouflage. Under the skin, Audi says that the chassis has been fine-tuned and optimized for cornering. Some of the enhancements include fully variable torque distribution between the rear wheels, new brake torque vectoring, and an RS sport suspension with optional adaptive dampers as well as ceramic brakes. There’s also improved computer smarts behind the RS3’s vehicle dynamics controller, which has been tuned with greater sensitivity to “lateral dynamics,” per Audi, meaning the car can better connect all the data from driver input and the road environment to react swiftly and appropriately.

Stippler says these changes were the key to Audi’s success, adding that “the new RS3 turns in more willingly at corner entry thanks to fine-tuning—including brake torque vectoring—which allows the vehicle to be positioned earlier and better for corner exit from the apex, at the latest. The result is a lower steering angle from apex to corner exit, which leads to less friction and earlier acceleration, allowing you to carry more momentum and speed onto each subsequent straight.”

It warms my heart to know that, in the year 2024 AD, there are compacts duking it out for glory on the Green Hell. The compact sedan has ceded so much ground to crossovers that I worry for the segment’s future. But that is the nature of things as we forge ahead: times change; so do tastes. For the moment, at least Audi is still out there fighting the good fight for the four-doors. In Europe, orders for the 2025 RS3 are expected to begin in August, and the vehicle will start hitting dealerships in October. No official word yet on the timeline for U.S. release (nor pricing) but it could be a bit later than that of the EU, perhaps early next year.

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