Audi S3 (2013-2020) review – engine and gearbox

It’s a ubiquitous pairing, the EA888 and seven-speed S-tronic dual clutch gearbox, but it was here first if that makes a difference

Evo rating
  • Grip, composure, quality
  • A safe pair of hands, and feeling old compared to fresh rivals

The engine is a cracker that pulls hard and encourages you to indulge its appetite for revs. It uses variable cam timing to increase efficiency at low revs while also improving power at the top end, and so it’s tractable when used gently, although there’s some lag below about 2000rpm if you try to wake it up too quickly. But mostly, you can use its broad power band as you choose – working it hard, which it enjoys, or trusting the gutsy mid-range to pull a taller ratio.

The S3 lacks the truly exquisite noise its big brother, the RS3, makes. The engine might only be an in-line four-cylinder turbo – rather than the five-cylinder found in the RS3 – but, with a little help from a sound-enhancing speaker in the bulkhead, it makes a pleasant enough noise. It’s a deep and cultured sound with a hard edge to it, but still doesn’t have the depth that hearing a real engine note has and remains slightly synthetic.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to have every issue of evo delivered straight to you. You'll SAVE 39% on the shop price, and get evo for its original cover price for a whole year!

> Click here for our review of the Ford Focus RS

And while the S-tronic transmission is as slick and fast as you could ask for – it will even oblige with multiple downshifts – the steering wheel paddles feel a little lightweight. It does add some theatre to the action, blink-fast full throttle upshifts being accompanied by a racy ‘thrrapp’ from the exhaust, but it’s less natural than it should be, with an augmented soundtrack that some will like, but we’re less fond of.

As well as the variable cam timing mentioned before the S3’s 2-litre TFSI engine features a ‘dual injection’ induction system that combines the strengths of direct and indirect injection for greater efficiency.

With a long stroke and twin balancer shafts, Audi claims the S3’s motor delivers its torque in a very linear fashion, reaching a hefty 280lb ft (or 295lb ft when equipped with the S-tronic transmission) at just 1800rpm and sustaining it all the way through to 5500rpm. Power is sent predominantly to the front wheels, with a Haldex clutch on the rear axle transferring torque rearwards when necessary.

 EnginePowerTorqueGearboxDrive
S3 S tronic (all)4-cyl, 1984cc, turbocharged petrol306bhp295lb ftSeven-speed twin clutch autoAll-wheel

Most Popular

Aston Martin DB4: review, history and specs
Aston Martin

Aston Martin DB4: review, history and specs

1959 was a watershed year for Aston Martin. As the DBR1 swept all before it on the track, the first customers were taking deliveries of the all-new DB…
11 Oct 2020
SSC Tuatara hypercar hits 331mph, making it the world’s fastest production car
News

SSC Tuatara hypercar hits 331mph, making it the world’s fastest production car

Over a decade after SSC last entered the record books, its Tuatara has claimed the title of world’s fastest production car
19 Oct 2020
Hot Cupra Formentor spied testing – with a five-cylinder warble
Cupra

Hot Cupra Formentor spied testing – with a five-cylinder warble

Is Cupra about to get hold of Audi’s brilliant five-cylinder petrol engine?
19 Oct 2020
Alpine to become high-performance Renault offshoot
Alpine

Alpine to become high-performance Renault offshoot

Heated-up Renaults but no A110 replacement for Alpine as it follows in Cupra and Abarth footsteps
21 Oct 2020