The Audi S3 is an entry-level Audi A3 performance hatchback/sedan that promises an exciting driving experience without being shouty about it. Many people prefer cars that don’t send the douchebag message but are still able to put a smile on your face whenever you put the power down. So, is Audi S3 a good car?
The Audi S3 is indeed a really good car because it might as well be the sweet spot of the entire Audi Sport range for those who want a small, yet capable car that offers everything a true Audi should. The S3 is powered by a 2.0L 4-cylinder turbo engine with 300-310hp for the last three generations which are going to be the subjects of this article.
Design-wise, the S3 differs from the regular A3 thanks to a few discrete performance upgrades such as a more stylish body kit, better-looking wheels, and a quad exhaust pipe setup. The interior of the S3 is also spruced up with higher-quality materials while the driving experience is focused and dynamic, yet comfortable.
The S3 is also a decently reliable car, but we are going to mention a few common issues that plague the S3. The values of these are really good as they tend to cost similar money to the Golf R, but an Audi badge and a better interior make it seem more worthwhile than the Golf R. The S3 is as practical as any other A3 which means that it is also decent.
Audi S3 – The powertrain
The Audi S3 is equipped with a 2.0L 4-cylinder turbocharged engine that makes between 300hp and 310hp for the last three S3 models. This engine is able to push the S3 from 0mph to 60mph in about 4.5 seconds which is indeed a really good time for an entry-level Audi performance car.
The S3 engine is mated to a sophisticated dual-clutch 7-speed S-Tronic gearbox and Audi’s iconic Quattro AWD system which is able to put the power down without any issues. The S3 is also a relatively efficient car because it can return up to 35MPG combined with is a really good number for a performance car.
The S3 does not offer a powertrain setup that is nearly as exciting as the one found in the RS3 with its 2.5L 5-cylinder engine. However, 310hp is just right for a car as big as the S3 as it enables you to explore the rev range in a linear way. All in all, the S3 powertrain is a sweet spot for many and is also sophisticated and decently efficient.
Audi S3 – Design and chassis
The Audi S3 differs from the regular A3 thanks to a few discrete styling upgrades such as a better-looking body kit, a set of sporty wheels, beefed-up brakes, and quad exhaust pipes. The S3 is available both in hatchback and sedan form in some markets while the US markets only get the sedan S3 which is arguably the better choice anyway.
The interior of the S3 comes with lots of standard equipment which makes it look luxurious. The S3 drives in a dynamic manner, but without being overly stiff. The car does experience a bit of body roll and understeer, but not much to ruin the fun. It may not be as stiff as the RS3, but the S3 is both comfortable and reasonably dynamic.
Audi S3 – Reliability and common issues
As far as reliability is concerned, the S3 seems to hold itself up nicely. However, you need to maintain it as the S3 is just like any other premium German performance car. This means that lack of maintenance is soon to ruin your ownership experience. Therefore, proper maintenance is not only an option but rather a necessity.
The most common Audi S3 issues are related to the engine misfiring or being hesitant, issues with the MAF sensor, issues with various electronics, issues with the thermostat, and engine cooling.
Audi S3 – Value and practicality
The Audi S3s biggest competitor is the Golf R which offers the same engine but is available with a more sophisticated AWD system and a manual gearbox. However, the S3 offers a better badge, higher-quality interior, and a more premium feel overall. That is why the value of the S3 is actually really good.
Practicality is in line with the Audi A3 because the A3 is not a car designed for transporting a bunch of people. The trunk space is good and if you want the most practical Audi S3, you will have to go for the Sportback version, if you can of course.
Should I buy an Audi S3?
The Audi S3 is a sweet spot of the entire Audi Sport range for many people. It is a compact car which means that it is easy to park and it fits where larger Audi cars simply can’t. It is fast, and exciting, but not overly so to make you look like a douchebag or to ruin your everyday comfort.
The S3 is a really good car overall and it does seem like the better choice when compared to the Golf R which costs more or less the same. The S3 is the Golf R, but with a more premium badge, higher-quality interior, better looks, and an arguably more exciting driving experience.
Is the Audi S3 a family car?
We have already mentioned that the Audi S3 does not shout that it is a performance car which means that it more or less feels like the regular A3 does, but with the added performance. This means that the S3 can be a good family car, but only if your family is young.
The rear seats in the S3 aren’t designed to transport taller individuals, but they are great for kids and babies. The S3 also comes with lots of family-friendly features such as cup holders, USB ports, and easy-to-reach child seat mounting points.
Is the Audi S3 a safe car?
When it comes to German premium automakers, one thing is for certain, they prioritize luxury, safety, and performance. Therefore, the S3 is able to earn a stellar 5-star safety rating badge which means that the S3 is indeed a really safe car.