Audi RS 3

What’s the difference between Audi RS vs S vs S line?

With a plethora of Audi vehicles to choose between, it often can be confusing to discern the differences between all the varying models. To make it easy for you, we’ve broken down the differences between the sport badges of the Audi range. 

To start with, there are three different sport variants: 

Audi S – The S models come equipped with sportier performance upgrades, larger more enhanced brakes, sport wheels, and stiffer suspension. They also have a look and finish that is much sleeker, more modern, and fashionable than those of the base models, with carbon fibre interior trims to match.

Audi RS – Audi RS models focus more on sports performance than the other Audi models. While regular Audi models focus more on practicality, the RS model is designed with a performance enthusiast in mind. This performance comes in the form of an upgraded engine, upgraded brakes, sportier suspension, and much greater handling. 

Audi S line S line is an upgraded sports trim, with a heavy focus on sports styling, in both interior and exterior of specific Audi models and variants. Some models even include the option of slightly upgraded suspension and sports wheels, for that slight edge in performance.

So, that’s the simple summary of the basics, let’s go a little deeper…

Image of an Audi S8 badge

What does Audi S mean?

The first ever S model was introduced in 1990 with the Audi S2 Coupé. Featuring a quattro all-wheel-drive system and a 2.2L turbo engine, the S2 was a great success, cementing itself in sportscar history.  

All Audi models featuring the ‘S’ badging come equipped with the quattro all-wheel drive system, upgraded brakes, suspension and carbon fibre interior inlays that really set themselves apart from the base variants. These models are the more luxurious and refined versions, perfect for those that would love a little more performance or styling, without having to fork out for the more performance-driven RS model.  

The Audi S model lineup includes: 

  • S1
  • S3
  • S4
  • S5
  • S6
  • S7
  • S8
  • SQ5
  • SQ7
  • e-tron S
Image of an Audi S line badge

What does Audi S line mean? 

S line is a trim offered on all Audi models if you want a sporty edge to your new car, but don’t want to shell out for the full-on S performance model. With the S line trim on your new Audi you get a more aggressive body kit and an upgraded interior, however, they will still come equipped with the standard – but still great – Audi engines found in the base model. The S line variant can sometimes include the upgraded sports suspension, for those after a slight edge in handling without forking out for the upgraded ‘S’ model.

The S line trim is an optional upgrade for specific Audi models and variants across the range, available as either an interior or exterior package or a combination of both.

image of an Audi RS4 badge

What does Audi RS mean?

The Audi RS is a true icon in the Audi lineup. ‘RS’ is synonymous with the highest level of performance available. The ‘RS’ model was created just four years after the original success of the S2 Coupé, first introduced with the RS 2. In a collaboration between Audi and Porsche, a unique and fast car was created, designed to be able to go anywhere while still being comfortable, spacious and equipped with permanent quattro all-wheel drive.  

The success of the S2 Coupé and RS 2 impressed Audi, and a decision was made that the brand would grow, leading to the RS, or RennSport (German for Racing Sport) sub-brand being born in 1994. 

Through the continued development of the RS sub-brand, Audi made leaps and bounds in the technologies included in the RS vehicles, leading to many of the vehicles we know and love today. 

The RS range now extends to the following vehicles: 

Audi RS vehicles are designed to be the top tier vehicle model, packing a much punchier engine, the latest vehicle technology, and permanent all-wheel drive. Although the interior may not be as luxury as the ‘S’ models, the intention is very clearly on track ready performance. 

Comparing this performance between the Q3 vs RS Q3 makes it clear to see the difference. The Audi Q3 comes standard with 228 horsepower, and a 0-100 km/h time of 7.4 seconds whereas the RS Q3 comes with a whopping 395 horsepower, and 0-100 km/h in just 4.5 seconds.  


In conclusion, the main difference between the RS, S, and S line variants is that the ‘S’ models focus on luxury sports cars, the ‘RS’ focuses on Racing Sport vehicles, with much faster engines, and the S line simply adds the sporty look for those not so worried about performance. Although both RS and S include sports suspension, steering wheels and high-end trim, the ‘S’ models simply can’t compete with the performance of the RS variants. 

If you’re looking out for a high-performance vehicle, the RS range may be best for you.