2018 Audi S3

#61
in Midsize sedans
2018 MODEL
$43,650 - $48,950 See Inventory Prices

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Detailed Review

The A3 is Audi's entry-level sedan that is both luxurious and easy to drive. It is for those reasons that many make it their ticket into the German luxury brand. But some desire a greater acceleration and handling, and that's where A3's sportier avatar, the 2018 Audi S3 comes into play.

Starting at a price of $43,650 and going up to $48,950, the 2018 Audi S3 is available in two trim levels. Both use a turbocharged I-4 that generates 292hp and 280 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine is mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The drivetrain is Audi's Quattro AWD.


8.0/10
Features

 

7.1/10
Engine

 

7.1/10
Fuel Economy

 

7.4/10
Interior

 

8.6/10
Exterior

 
 
 
 

The Audi S3 may not be as spacious as its older sibling, the A4 and it may not be as powerful as some of its key rivals like the Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA45 or the BMW M240i xdrive, but S3 has a lot to offer in style, luxury, comfort, and tech. More concentration on providing an all-rounder rather than just a power beast is what makes this compact sedan one of the best options in the market.

2018 Audi S3 Features

8.0/10

Trims

Premium Plus

Prestige

MSRP

$43,650

$48,950

Features

keyless ignition and entry

 

Audi Drive Select

 

Panoramic sunroof

 

Heated and power front seats

 

S model sport suspension

 

Audi progressive steering

 

Audi side assist with Rear cross traffic assist

 

Audi smartphone interface including Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto

Everything on Premium Plus and:

 

heated and power-folding side mirrors

 

 LED interior lighting

 

Auto dimming driver’s side mirror

 

Audi virtual cockpit

 

Bang & Olufsen Sound System

 

MMI Navigation with voice control

 

Audi adaptive cruise control with stop & go

High beam assistant

The 2018 Audi S3 comes in 2 trim levels: Premium Plus and Prestige. They are similarly equipped, though Prestige trim adds more standard tech features. Both trims are powered by a 2-liter I-4 engine that produces 292hp and 280 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine is paired to a 7-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission. Audi’s Quattro AWD is standard.

We Recommend

The 2018 Audi S3 has plenty to offer no matter which trim level you choose. You’d be happy if you opt for the Premium Plus trim, but if you want the technology package for the much desired Audi’s Virtual Cockpit and the magnificent audio system, upgrade to the Prestige trim. Not only does Prestige add the technology package as standard feature, you get other features like adaptive cruise control and a HomeLink garage door opener. Also, opting for the S Sport package is recommended as it adds adaptive suspension dampers, further heightening S3’s comfort and performance.

2018 Audi S3 Engine

7.1/10

“The turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder feels stronger than 292 hp. Although it can be reluctant leaving the line, once it builds revs, it sprints forward, hitting 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds.” – Edmunds

Engine and Transmission

The 2018 Audi S3 uses a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. This engine is mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and powers all four wheels. The engine is smooth and powerful, and always eager to rev. Not just power, even the midrange torque is impressive.

Models Audi S3 BMW M240i xDrive Volkswagen Golf R Mercedes AMG CLA
MSRP $43,650 $47,450 $36,755 $50,400
Engine Intercooled Turbo Premium Unleaded I-4 2.0 L Intercooled Turbo Premium Unleaded I-6 3.0 L Intercooled Turbo Premium Unleaded I-4 2.0 L Intercooled Turbo Premium Unleaded I-4 2.0 L
Transmission 7-speed dual-clutch automatic 8-speed automatic 8-speed automatic 7-speed automatic
Power 292hp @ 5400 rpm 335hp @ 5500 rpm 292hp @ 5400 rpm 375hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque 280 lb.-ft. @ 1900 rpm 369 lb.-ft. @ 1520 rpm 280 lb.-ft. @ 1800 rpm 350 lb.-ft. @ 2250 rpm

The BMW M240i xDrive is the most direct rival of the 2018 Audi S3. It starts at $47,450, almost $4,000 higher than Audi. But it justifies the price difference with superior power and a whopping 369 lb.-ft. of torque. The Mercedes AMG CLA and the S3 have a huge price difference, almost $7,000 worth! But the Mercedes has tremendous engine power. Its 375hp is unparalleled, though still playing second to BMW in the torque department.

The Volkswagen used the same engine in Golf R as they did in the S3. This means the same output, but S3’s hatchback cousin is almost $7,000 cheaper.

Acceleration

The 2018 Audi S3 doesn’t have the quickest engine off the bat, but once it starts to build revs, it sprints faster than you’d expect from a four-cylinder. The 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is smooth and quick, further facilitating S3’s pickup.

Models Audi S3 BMW M240i xDrive VW Golf  R Mercedes-Benz  AMG CLA 45
0-60 MPH 4.6 sec 4.2 sec 5.2 sec 4.1 sec
Quarter mile 13.0 sec @ 105.3 mph 13.8 sec @ 96 mph 13.0 sec @ 104.9 mph 12.3 sec @ 113 mph
Engine 2.0L 3.0L 2.0L 2.0L

Emission (Tons/yr of CO2 Emissions @ 15K mi/year)

7.0 7.3 7.0 6.8

The fastest 0-60 mph time is put up by the Mercedes-Benz AMG GLA. Its 375hp generating engine and a smooth 7-speed automatic transmission propel it to 60mph in just 4.1 seconds. The BMW trails the CLA by just a millisecond.

The Audi isn’t far behind, either. With a 0-60 mph time of just 4.6 seconds, it is just half a second behind the Mercedes. It is really impressive when we keep in mind that Mercedes’ engine produces 83hp more than Audi’s. The Golf R has the same engine output as the Audi but doesn’t have the smoothness of Audi’s dual-clutch transmission, hence, it reaches the 60mph mark in 5.2 seconds.

Handling and Steering

The 2018 Audi S3 is the sportier version of the A3, so expecting a quick and sharp handling is not a big stretch. S3 has an incredibly sharp and precise steering. It gives a good feedback despite the electric assist, which is known to isolate the road or grip level from the driver as it does in Audi S3.

S3’s sticky tires keep the car glued to the road. There is virtually no body-roll thanks to its stiff suspension. Its nimble handling and strong grip make sure your car goes exactly where you want it to.

“Drivability is marred slightly by touchy brakes in stop-and-go traffic and some delay from the engine and transmission when leaving a stoplight. But it has great passing power, feels light and small, and is generally an easy car to drive” – Edmunds

Braking

The S3 is a performance oriented car, so it’s no surprise that it has confidence instilling brakes that are both powerful and firm. Although some might say the brakes are a bit too touchy at lower speeds, but in most situations, they display excellent abilities.

Model Audi S3 BMW M240i xDrive VW Golf  R Mercedes-Benz  AMG CLA 45
Brake Front (in.) 13.4 13.4 13.4 13.8
Brake Rear (in.) 12.2 13.6 12.2 13.0
Curb Weight (lbs.) 3462 3662 3283 3450
60-0 MPH (ft.) 117 125 108 109

The Golf R, being a hatchback, is lighter than the rest. This helps it to lose inertia quick and be the fastest to come to a stop. In the 60-0 mph test, the Golf R takes 108 feet to come to a stop. The Mercedes impresses yet again with a distance of 109 feet.

The Audi takes 117 feet to stop. Now that distance is not impressive compared to the Golf R or CLA 45, but it is certainly miles (or feet) better than BMW’s 125 feet distance. The BMW is the heaviest amongst these rivals, and it certainly shows in its stopping power.

2018 Audi S3 Fuel Economy

7.1/10

The 2018 Audi S3 marries great performance with great fuel economy. Being a relatively light and compact car with a 4-cylinder engine, S3 provides a great output and still manages to put up 25 mpg combined. It is worth noting that S3 runs on premium fuel.

Model Audi S3 BMW M240i xDrive VW Golf  R Mercedes-Benz  AMG CLA 45
MPG (City) 22 21 22 23
MPG (Highway) 28 30 29 29
MPG (Combined) 25 25 25 26

In terms of mileage, the competition is quite evenly matched. The best numbers are put up by Mercedes GMC CLA45 with 23/29 mpg in city/hwy. The BMW is the most efficient on the highway but matches S3 and Golf R in a combined economy.

2018 Audi S3 Interior

7.4/10

“The door pockets are decent size, but the front bin is a tiny sliver. The center armrest bin is just large enough to be useful. The cup holders have good anti-tip design” – Edmunds

The 2018 Audi S3 follows the same minimalist design as the A3, with some unique differences. The standard color options include black or magma red. If you opt for the S Sport package, you can get quilted leather seats in black or rock grey.

The S3 has just as much storage as you’d expect from this class. Underneath the armrest, you have a decent storage area with a USB. In front of the armrest, you get a traditional leather and metal shifter. The S3 has a large array of buttons which provide a nice tactile feedback.

The frameless rearview mirror has a standard compass but no Homelink remote. There is a standard panoramic moonroof with a transparent shade. Audi calls it ‘panoramic’ but it’s just a little bigger than the standard size. The CD player and SD slots are situated inside the glovebox.

Seating and Comfort

The 2018 Audi S3 uses standard leather seats which are available in black or magma red, or you could get the S Sport package and get quilted leather seats in black or rock grey. The seats are 12-way power adjusting with 4-way lumbar support. If, however, you opt for the sport seats, they would be manually adjusting. You also get manual thigh extensions, which is a nice touch.

Model Audi S3 Premium Infiniti QX30 BMW X1 sdrive 28i Mercedes-Benz GLA 250
Passenger capacity 5 5 5 5
Passenger Volume(ft.3) 106 108 101.2 104
Front (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.) 36.9/55.8/40 38.4/54.8/52.1 41.9/55.6/40.4 40/54.8/41.9
Second (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.) 37.4/53.6/31.1 37.5/54.8/49 39.4/55.2/37 38.2/53.1/27.3

The seats are 3 stage heated but with no ventilation. The front seats have firm cushions, but they are wide and roomy. The rear seats provide better space than the CLA or the QX30.

Interior Features

Here is a list of the standout features in the 2018 Audi S3’s cabin:

  • Selectable driving settings (known as Audi Drive Select)
  • Panoramic Moonroof
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Heated front seats
  • Driver-seat memory settings
  • Leather upholstery
  • Audi's MMI electronics interface

Optional features include:

  • 14 speaker Bang and Olufsen sound system
  • Virtual Cockpit
  • manually adjustable front sport seats with quilted leather upholstery

Infotainment

When you start the S3, a standard 7-inch screen pops up. The screen is non-touchscreen, so you have to use Audi’s MMI controller to scroll through the various options. It is a good idea, as using a touchscreen while driving would make you take your eyes off the road.

The 2018 Audi S3 comes standard with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. This is a huge bonus as many rivals don’t even have it as an optional upgrade. There is also the available MMI touch with handwriting-recognition technology which allows the driver to “write” their entry rather than selecting letters or numbers and more easily navigate maps by moving a finger across the touchpad.

Cargo

No one expects too much cargo storage from a sports-oriented compact car, and the 2018 Audi S3 falls exactly in that description. The trunk might be a bit small, but it has a wide opening and a large pass-through to the rear seats. The folding rear seats are a saving grace to the limited storage space. Inside the cabin, there are many cubbies and cup-holders that provide sufficient storage.

Model Audi S3 BMW M240i xDrive VW Golf  R Mercedes-Benz  AMG CLA 45
Volume (ft cube) 10 13.8 22.8 13.1

Although much room wasn’t expected, the S3 has a small trunk even in terms of compact cars. The Mercedes and BMW both provide more than 13 cubic feet of storage, with BMW having the largest trunk with 13.8 cubic feet of space. The Golf R is a hatchback, so it is way ahead in the storage department with 22.8 cubic feet worth behind the second row.

2018 Audi S3 Exterior

8.6/10

"If you like the Audi styling aesthetic, you'll love the 2018 A3’s defining look. Looking a lot like a smaller Audi A6, its standard bi-xenon headlights, big sunroof and standard 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels make even the least expensive A3 look great."-KelleyBlueBook

The 2018 Audi S3 may be mechanically related to the Golf R, but design-wise it attains a level of sophistication that the VW can only dream of. In the front, the S3 boasts Audi’s latest interpretation of the single-frame grille. It has the squared-off look of the S4. The grille is bolder and shinier than A3’s, but is all black if you opt for the black optic package. Headlights are LEDs on both trims.

Model Audi S3 Premium Infiniti QX30 BMW X1 sdrive 28i Mercedes-Benz GLA 250
Curb weight (lbs) 3483 3280 3543 3296
Length(in) 172.8 174.2 175.4 173.9
Width(in) 72.1 82.0 71.7 71.0
Height(in) 62.5 58.9 62.9 60.0
Ground clearance(in) 6.7 6.8 6.9 6.6
Wheelbase(in) 102.5 106.3 105.1 106.3
Track width(in) F/R 61.1/61.2 61.9/61.9 61.5/61.5 61.8/61.4

The S3 looks a lot like the S4 until you look at it from the side, when its 11 inches shorter frame becomes more apparent. The side mirrors are silver like in all Audi S models, except for the black optic package where they are, well, black.

The rear is just as sophisticated and athletic as the front. To accent the look, there is a stylish and tasteful lip spoiler. The most eye-catching feature in the rear are the full LED tail lights with dynamic turn signals. Down below you will find the quad exhausts housed in a special sport diffuser.

Exterior Features

Some of the exterior features include:

  • LED headlights and taillights
  • Heated and auto-dimming side mirrors
  • Standard 18 inch 5-arm dynamic wheels
  • Optional 19-inch contrast alloy wheels
  • Red brake calipers with S Sport package.
  • Summer or all-season tires.

2018 Audi S3 Safety

IIHS and NHTSA haven't rated the 2018 Audi S3 but treats it as a sportier version of the A3.

Some of the standard safety features in the 2018 Audi S3 include:

  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Rearview camera
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane departure warning and intervention

2018 Audi S3 Competition

BMW M240ixdrive vs Audi S3

If we only keep performance in mind, there is no denying that the BMW M240i shoots past Audi S3 easily. It is faster and a better performer. The M240i has BMW’s straight-six engine and a non-Golf based architecture, these factors are enough to make an enthusiast migrate to BMW.

But the enthusiasts don’t make the majority of the market. That’s the saving grace for the Audi. The S3 provides superior leather, more tech, and a more comfortable ride to make up for its lack of power. These factors make the S3 a more everyday car that’s more suited to today’s buyer who expects a lot more than his/her car than just power.

Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA45 vs Audi S3

These German rivals Mercedes and Audi have for a long time coming up with fantastic vehicles aimed to outshine the other. Although their approach towards a compact powerhouse is different, while Mercedes went all-out with power and extravagance, Audi aimed themselves at a balancing act of power with comfort and practicality.

There is about a $7,000 difference in the price of S3 and AMG CLA45, granted there is also an 83hp difference! Mercedes also put a butterfly valve in the exhaust, so clearly they didn’t let the size of CLA45 be a factor while deciding the output. But a compact car can’t be all vroom-vroom. As impressive as Mercedes’ cabin is, Audi’s is just a tad better. S3’s transmission is also smoother and quieter. So if you want raw power, go for Mercedes. But if you don’t want to spend those extra thousands over a compact car, and also want a modest and everyday vehicle, Audi seems like a better buy.

Volkswagen Golf R

Volkswagen uses the same engine in Golf R as they do in their daughter company’s S3, so power and output-wise they are identical. But looks would always favor a luxurious sedan over a hatchback. The S3 seems vastly superior to Golf R in terms of exterior and interior quality. Not that the Golf R doesn’t impress with looks and material, it’s just that Audi seems to be a sort of an expert in style and comfort department.

There is almost a $10,000 price difference between the two. Although both use a lot of the same mechanical bits, the Audi is a more upscale brand, so it’s not a big surprise that it would be pricier than a Volkswagen. Both these cars are VW’s interpretation of a sporty compact car. Go for the VW if you don’t want to part with that extra $10,000 in your account, or if you regularly need a large cargo hold. But if you are willing to pay extra for power along with style and luxury, Audi is the one you need.

2018 Audi S3 Final Verdict

The Audi S3 is the sportier version of Audi’s least expensive sedan, but in no way does it provide anything shy of a true Audi experience. It is stylish and handles perfectly. It may not provide as much power as the fellow German manufacturer’s AMG CLA45 or BMW M240i, but it has many advantages over them.

Not only is the 2018 Audi S3 considerably cheaper than the powerful rivals, but it also pays more attention to providing a more fun and engaging experience to the occupant than just sheer exhilaration of speed. S3’s standard tech and safety features, along with its superb ride quality keep Audi in the race with those power machines.

To conclude, speed cannot be the only criteria to keep in mind when choosing your next car. If you are ready to compromise a little with engine power and noise for comfort, tech, and ride quality, then Audi S3 is a clear choice. Otherwise, if you want more power and swiftness from the engine and don’t mind spending a few extra thousands, the Mercedes-Benz CLA45 and BMW M240i are both great alternatives.

Pros

Powerful engine

Upscale interior

Precise handling

Cons

Small trunk

Low rear legroom

No manual transmission option

What's New?

S sport package amongst other tweaks in feature availability.


Features

vehicle bio

base price

$43650

bodystyle

4dr Sedan

passenger capacity

5

top speed

155 mph

drivetrain

AWD

engine type

displacement

121 cu. in.

horsepower

292 hp @ 5400 rpm

torque

280 lb.-ft. @ 1900 rpm

transmission

6-speed automatic

chassis

brake rotors (f/r)

12.2 in. ventilated disc brakes/13.4 in. ventilated disc brakes

dimensions

wheelbase

103.6 in.

length

175.8 in.

width

70.7 in.

height

54.8 in.

curb weight

3462 lbs.

ground clearance

6.7 in.

capacity

cargo volume

10 cu ft.

payload capacity

1102 lbs.

performance

zero to 60 mph

4.4 sec.

zero to 100 mph

10.8 sec.

standing ¼-mile

12.9 sec.

fuel economy

city/combined/highway

21/24/28 mpg

highway range

406 mi.

warranty

basic warranty

4 years/50000 miles

drivetrain warranty

4 years/50000 miles

corrosion warranty

12 years/unlimited

roadside assistance

No



Styles

 2018 Audi S3 in Mythos Black Metallic color  2018 Audi S3 in Glacier White Metallic color  2018 Audi S3 in Florett Silver Metallic color  2018 Audi S3 in Daytona Gray Pearl Effect color  2018 Audi S3 in Brilliant Black color  2018 Audi S3 in Glacier White Metallic color  2018 Audi S3 in Florett Silver Metallic color
Mythos Black Metallic

Vehicle images are guides only and may not reflect the model's exact specifications/features– exact specifications/features should be confirmed with the seller.

Ratings

Features

8.0

Engine

7.1

Fuel Economy

7.1

Interior

7.4

Exterior

8.6

Comfort

8.3

Driving

9.6

8.0

OVERALL RATING

Trims and Configurations

MSRP


 2018 Audi S3 2.0T Premium Plus quattro

2.0T Premium Plus quattro

power
292 hp @ 5400 rpm
fuel
Premium unleaded (required)
mpg
24 combined

$43,650


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
2.0 TFSI Premium Plus quattro w/Prod. End 6/18 4dr Sedan AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 7AM) Starting at $43,650 MSRP (21/24/28) 292 hp @ 5400 rpm, 2 L, I4, premium unleaded (required)
See Full Specs
6-speed automatic all wheel drive 5 NA

 2018 Audi S3 2.0T Prestige quattro

2.0T Prestige quattro

power
292 hp @ 5400 rpm
fuel
Premium unleaded (required)
mpg
24 combined

$48,950


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
2.0 TFSI Prestige quattro w/Prod. End 6/18 4dr Sedan AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 7AM) Starting at $48,950 MSRP (21/24/28) 292 hp @ 5400 rpm, 2 L, I4, premium unleaded (required)
See Full Specs
6-speed automatic all wheel drive 5 NA

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