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.

> 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

Will synthetic fuel save the performance car? The manufacturers weigh in
R8 Filler cap
Porsche

Will synthetic fuel save the performance car? The manufacturers weigh in

Porsche claims a car running on eFuel will have the same CO2 footprint as an EV, and BMW, Audi, Aston Martin and McLaren all agree
24 Feb 2021
2022 Land Rover Defender V8 revealed – £100k supercharged off-roader gets 518bhp
Land Rover Defender V8 MY22 - header
Land Rover Defender

2022 Land Rover Defender V8 revealed – £100k supercharged off-roader gets 518bhp

The Land Rover Defender range continues to expand with its most powerful iteration yet
25 Feb 2021
Next generation BMW M2 spied – evo favourite reimagined
2022 BMW M2 spied nose
BMW M2

Next generation BMW M2 spied – evo favourite reimagined

The next generation 2-series coupe will spawn an all-new M2 after all, spied here for the first time
25 Feb 2021