The rear exterior of a blue Audi S3

Audi S3 review (2013-2020)

The Audi S3 is a great performance car with superb handling and a powerful engine. Its well-designed interior is luxurious and spacious and it has some great tech, too.

Pros

  • Great design inside and out
  • Sporty performance
  • Top quality interior

Cons

  • The three-door isn’t the most practical
  • Can be expensive to run
  • Rear seats feel cramped in some versions

Summary

“The S3 is fun to drive and well equipped.”

By Cazoo editorial team

The Audi S3 is a sporty version of the A3. Available as a three-door or five-door hatchback, a saloon or a convertible, it’s fun to drive and well equipped.

The S3 is quick, too – you can accelerate from 0-62 mph in as little as 4.5 seconds. It also features Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system, which gives extra grip when accelerating in slippery conditions. Performance aside, it features all the practical appeal of the regular Audi A3.

We're focusing here on the third-generation Audi S3, sold new between 2013 and 2020. A fourth-generation model has been sold since 2020.

What's the interior like?

“Stylish and luxurious, the S3 has an understated feel, with great quality materials.”

Stylish and luxurious, the S3 has an understated feel, with great quality materials that create a premium atmosphere for the driver and passengers. It's at least on a par and often better than its rivals, even if it's not quite as eyecatching as the Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

It features comfortable sports seats up front, which help to keep you comfy when driving fast on twisty roads. There’s a good amount of space for back seat passengers, although accessing the back seats is slightly more awkward in the three-door hatchback model. Bear in mind that there’s even less legroom in the convertible model, which is badged as the S3 Cabriolet.

Some versions of the S3 feature a digital instrument cluster, called the Virtual Cockpit, which lets you customise different views, from the speedo to a sat nav map. It’s linked to an infotainment screen on top of the dash that can be controlled via a simple dial between the front seats.

The S3 is also relatively practical, especially in the five-door Sportback version, which has a good-sized boot space that expands when you fold the back seats down.

What's it like to drive?

“The 2.0-litre turbocharged engine generates more than 300bhp, meaning it's poised to become a proper sports car at a moment’s notice.”

Ideal for everyday driving, the Audi S3 will sit happily in commuter traffic or drive gently to the shops. It’s comfortable on longer journeys and the suspension can handle bumpy surfaces with ease.

But the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine generates more than 300bhp, meaning it's poised to become a proper sports car at a moment’s notice. The S3 has been designed to sound like a performance car when you want it to, with a boomy exhaust noise that's been deliberately enhanced for your enjoyment.

It doesn't feel quite as sharp or as involving as the higher-powered, rear-wheel-drive versions of the BMW 1 Series, but the A3 is still an excellent performance all-rounder.

Is it cost-efficient to buy and run?

“Prices are very competitive against high-powered versions of the Mercedes A-Class and BMW 1 Series.”

The Audi S3 is a premium car, and while purchase prices will likely be higher than a rival like the Volkswagen Golf R, they're very competitive against high-powered versions of the Mercedes A-Class and BMW 1 Series.

Keep in mind, though, that the premium nature of the car means service, maintenance and repair is likely be on the pricey end, too. This will be true of BMW and Mercedes too, but hot hatches like the Golf or the Seat Leon Cupra will likely be more affordable to look after.

Fuel costs will be more affordable than full-on sports cars, but considerably more expensive than the regular Audi A3 – the engine sacrifices efficiency in favour of power.

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Which one is best for you?

Which Audi S3 is right for you depends on which body style suits your needs. The three-door isn’t the most practical, but that doesn’t matter if you never take passengers. The five-door Sportback is a great all-round choice, giving you a fantastic drive with decent boot space for everyday use.

The saloon has classic looks, while the Cabriolet offers drop-top performance driving. The manual gearbox is great but you could consider the S-tronic automatic if you just want an easy, straightforward drive.

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