Audi S3 review - A quality fast hatch

David Vivian
23 Nov 2015

Hugely competent and very quick, but there are more entertaining fast hatches available

Evo Rating: 
Grip, quality, exhaust note
A bit too safe a pair of hands

evo Verdict

If you’re a head-rules-heart kind of buyer, the S3 will probably suit you down to the ground, across which it will be impressively rapid and make a stirring noise, especially if you opt for the S-Tronic double-clutcher which will insert a naughty exhaust ‘thrrapp’ between full-throttle upshifts. It’s easy to live with, won’t punish you at the petrol pumps and comes with a full measure of Audiness in its build, finish and tech. If only it was a little more entertaining and involving to drive, it would be hard to resist indeed.

evo tip

If your credit card is gravitating towards an S3 make sure you book a test drive of the VW Golf R as well. There’s not much between them in price but they are surprisingly different in character. The Audi is undoubtedly the classier proposition, but the Golf is a revelation on the road.

evo Comment

‘Despite a few reservations, we really like the Audi S3 and know many owners who feel the same. It may not be the last word in driver involvement but its effortless point-to-point pace, more than reasonable economy, everyday practicality and usability and superb build, finish and tech add up to something a bit special.’

David Vivian, Contributing Road Tester, evo

Video review

Performance and 0-60 time > The S3 manages an impressive 0-60mph time of just 4.8 seconds thanks to its slick S-tronic transmission.

Engine and gearbox > The standard manual six-speed gearbox features a lightweight magnesium casing. The optional S-Tronic twin-clutch transmission is more fuel efficient. 

Ride and HandlingGrip levels are high on the S3 and the chassis balance is very neutral, unfortunately the S3 is more inclined to understeer than oversteer.

MPG and running costs >Audi claims a combined fuel economy figure of 40.4mpg and 162g/km of CO2 for the S-Tronic. The manual returns 40.9mpg and 159g/km. Real world figures are less impressive. 

Prices, specs and rivalsWith £30,440 as a starting price, the S3 opens itself up to plentiful competition. The BMW M135i and Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG are both strong rivals.

Interior and techAudi interiors are a major selling point, and the S3’s is no exception. Well built and with top notch fit and finish, you’re left with the impression that nothing’s there for show.

DesignClean and simple, the aesthetic signifiers that show the car’s 300bhp are subtle compared to the competition.

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