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Audi S3 sedan 2020 review

Powered by a 213kW/380Nm 2.0-litre engine, the Audi S3 sedan still offers plenty of punch in 2020.
EXPERT RATING
7.9
Audi was first to bring a go-fast premium small sedan to market, but is it still good after over five years on the market?

Audi was the first to market with a premium small performance sedan in 2014, with its four-door S3 combining luxury appointments with a punchy engine.

The German brand has largely enjoyed free air in the somewhat niche segment, but now Mercedes-AMG has launched its A35 sedan and BMW's 2 Series Gran Coupe-based M235i is set for a 2020 introduction to try and steal some of the S3's thunder.

With a new-generation version expected around the corner, Audi has updated its S3 with more kit to keep things fresh against its new rivals.

Now priced at $65,800 in sedan form, and $64,200 for the five-door Sportback hatch, does the S3 still have what it takes to stave off the competition?

Audi S3 2020: 2.0 TFSI Quattro
Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency6.5L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$65,800

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

Measuring 4466mm long, the sedan is 144mm lengthier than its hatchback sibling, but this also means there is about 50 litres more boot space.

While you might struggle to fit something like a full-sized bike into the boot of the sedan, the extra cargo capacity would easily accommodate extra grocery bags or a stroller.

We actually think the sedan looks better than the hatch, as the styling is a little more mature and grown up. It actually looks like a shrunk down A4!

  • Powered by a 213kW/380Nm 2.0-litre engine, the Audi S3 sedan still offers plenty of punch in 2020. (image: Tung Nguyen) Powered by a 213kW/380Nm 2.0-litre engine, the Audi S3 sedan still offers plenty of punch in 2020. (image: Tung Nguyen)
  • The sedan is 144mm lengthier than its hatchback sibling, but this also means there is about 50 litres more boot space. (image: Tung Nguyen) The sedan is 144mm lengthier than its hatchback sibling, but this also means there is about 50 litres more boot space. (image: Tung Nguyen)
  • We actually think the sedan looks better than the hatch, as the styling is a little more mature and grown up. (image: Tung Nguyen) We actually think the sedan looks better than the hatch, as the styling is a little more mature and grown up. (image: Tung Nguyen)
  • Audi has updated its S3 with more kit to keep things fresh against its new rivals. (image: Tung Nguyen) Audi has updated its S3 with more kit to keep things fresh against its new rivals. (image: Tung Nguyen)

The 19-inch wheels fitted to the S3 also help fill its slightly blistered wheelarches, while subtle nods to its sportiness can be seen in the red brake callipers and quad exhaust tips.

The rest of the S3 sedan is unmistakably Audi thanks to its singleframe front grille, strong shoulder line and contrasting side mirrors.

Inside, sports seats with Audi's unique diamond-quilting are fitted for the front occupants, while the rear bench seats also feature the bespoke finish – at least on the outboard pews.

The 19-inch wheels fitted to the S3 also help fill its slightly blistered wheelarches. (image: Tung Nguyen) The 19-inch wheels fitted to the S3 also help fill its slightly blistered wheelarches. (image: Tung Nguyen)

Between the driver and front passenger sits a small storage cubby, the gear shifter, multimedia controls and two cupholders.

In the centre stack, you will see climate controls, the drive mode selector and a small screen above circular air vents.

Everything in the cabin is laid out in a clever, ergonomic fashion, though we will note the central cupholders won't be much use for anything bigger than a small coffee cup.

The best part of the interior is easily the virtual cockpit, which lays out all the information you need right in front of you. It's even customisable, so you can adjust the sizing of the satellite navigation maps or media system.

Everything in the cabin is laid out in a clever, ergonomic fashion. (image: Tung Nguyen) Everything in the cabin is laid out in a clever, ergonomic fashion. (image: Tung Nguyen)

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

Being a small sedan, the S3 doesn't exactly boast heaps of interior space, but there is enough for a young family or a group of four adults over short distances.

Roughly the same size as a Mazda3 or Toyota Corolla sedan, the S3 will comfortably seat two adults in the front, but we found the rear headroom to be severely lacking.

Our head can just about fit in the rear outboard pews, but our necks were a bit sore after trying the middle seat. For reference, this writer measures about 186cm.

Amenities in the rear are sparse, with just a 12-volt socket to charge devices and rear air vents to keep passengers entertained. (image: Tung Nguyen) Amenities in the rear are sparse, with just a 12-volt socket to charge devices and rear air vents to keep passengers entertained. (image: Tung Nguyen)

Leg room was pretty good though, even with the front seats set-up for someone our size, though again, we'd only recommend small children for the middle seat.

Amenities in the rear are sparse, with just a 12-volt socket to charge devices and rear air vents to keep passengers entertained.

The door cards will swallow small bottles, but not much else, while there is no fold down centre armrest or cupholders.

The boot is generous enough to swallow 390 litres of volume with the seats in place. (image: Tung Nguyen) The boot is generous enough to swallow 390 litres of volume with the seats in place. (image: Tung Nguyen)

The front fares a little bitter, with larger door pockets, a glove box and central storage cubby, but don't expect to be moving houses in the S3 sedan.

As for the boot, its deep and wide with a cargo net to keep things tumbling round, and is generous enough to swallow 390 litres of volume with the seats in place – that's about 50L more than the Sportback.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

Priced at $65,800 before on-road costs, the S3 sedan is about $6500 cheaper than its $72,500 Mercedes-AMG A35 sedan rival, but still comes loaded with what you'd expect in a premium small car.

Close to the end of its life, Audi bundled nearly $9000 worth of extras in the S3 sedan at no extra cost late last year, which includes the aforementioned 19-inch wheels, metallic paint, Nappa leather sports seats, wireless smartphone charger, magnetic suspension, and Bang & Olufsen 13-speaker sound system.

A sports bodykit is also fitted as standard, while LED headlights, keyless entry, push-button start, electronically folding side-view mirrors and heated front seats also feature.

Close to the end of its life, Audi bundled nearly $9000 worth of extras in the S3 sedan at no extra cost late last year. (image: Tung Nguyen) Close to the end of its life, Audi bundled nearly $9000 worth of extras in the S3 sedan at no extra cost late last year. (image: Tung Nguyen)

Inside, passengers will find dual-zone climate control, LED interior lighting, flat-bottom steering wheel, and 7.0-inch multimedia system with digital radio, satellite navigation and Bluetooth connectivity.

Our favourite feature though, is the 12.3-inch all-digital virtual cockpit instrument panel, which is easily customisable and clear to read.

Audi set the benchmark for digital displays when it first introduced virtual cockpit in its third-generation TT sports car, and it still remains the benchmark to this day.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

Power in the S3 sedan comes from a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine, which outputs 213kW at 6500rpm and 380Nm from 1850-5300rpm.

Drive is sent to the road via Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive system and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmissions, translating to a 4.8 second zero to 100km/h acceleration time.

Audi has probably perfected the easy-to-drive-fast formula with its S3 sedan. (image: Tung Nguyen) Audi has probably perfected the easy-to-drive-fast formula with its S3 sedan. (image: Tung Nguyen)

Engine outputs are impressive for a small car, though the powerplant does run out of go when the needle approaches redline.

The engine is also down on power and torque when compared to its newer rivals, such as the 225kW/400Nm Mercedes-AMG A35 sedan and 225kW/450Nm BMW M135i xDrive – though the latter is a hatchback.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Official fuel consumption figures are pegged at 6.5 litres per 100km, while carbon dioxide emissions are 151 grams per kilometre.

The S3 sedan sips premium unleaded fuel and the engine is Euro 6 compliant.

With a 55-litre fuel tank, the S3 should average about 846km of driving range per fill-up, but this is obviously dependent on driving conditions and the urgency of the driver's right foot.

What's it like to drive?   9/10

Audi has probably perfected the easy-to-drive-fast formula with its S3 sedan, deftly balancing approachable limits with an engaging drive.

The exhaust just pops, rather than crackles, but again, that characteristic lends itself more to the mature and grown-up status of the S3 rather than the ‘boy racer' image of other cars in the same class.

The quattro all-wheel-drive system means the S3 sedan just grips, but leans towards understeer if you really come into a corner red hot.

The S3 then, is suitable for pulling double duty as a weekday commuter and weekend canyon carver. (image: Tung Nguyen) The S3 then, is suitable for pulling double duty as a weekday commuter and weekend canyon carver. (image: Tung Nguyen)

It's no bad thing though, as steering is communicative and the chassis feels neutral for the most part.

If you want a small luxury sedan that will make you feel like a hero, the S3 is it.

With peak torque available so early in the rev range, the S3 is also a gem when just cruising around at inner-city speeds and when getting off the line briskly.

The quattro all-wheel-drive system means the S3 sedan just grips, but leans towards understeer if you really come into a corner red hot. (image: Tung Nguyen) The quattro all-wheel-drive system means the S3 sedan just grips, but leans towards understeer if you really come into a corner red hot. (image: Tung Nguyen)

The transmission shifts quickly and smoothly, but if you'd prefer, you can always put it in manual mode and shift with the gear stick or steering wheel mounted paddles.

The S3 then, is suitable for pulling double duty as a weekday commuter and weekend canyon carver, and while there are other options that will do each respective thing better, there isn't much out there that can balance both aspects.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

Audi's S3 comes fitted with adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, reversing camera, front parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and autonomous emergency braking.

ANCAP awarded the entire A3 line-up a full five-star safety rating when it was originally tested in 2013.

We'd love to see something like a surround view-camera added to the next-generation S3, but with its diminutive size, it's not a deal breaker.

Some sort of autonomous self-parking technology would also be appreciated to get the car into those tight spaces.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   8/10

Audi's S3 sedan, like all new Audis, come with a three year/unlimited kilometre warranty alongside three years of roadside assist and 12 months of anti-corrosion cover.

Service intervals are ever 15,000km or 12 months, whichever comes first.

Both three- and five-year service plans are available for $1850 and $2390 respectively.

Verdict

Despite being close to the end of its lifecycle, the Audi S3 sedan remains a solid choice for those looking for punchy performance wrapped in a premium package.

There is a bit of a trade-off in comfort for the extra performance, but it never strays towards being too unbearable or unliveable.

If you can survive with just using the rear seats occasionally, the S3 sedan also serves up one of the best front-seat interiors on the market, even after all this time.

Pricing Guides

$68,800
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$64,200
Highest Price
$73,400

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
2.0 TFSI Quattro 2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $73,400 2020 Audi s3 2020 2.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs
Sportback 2.0 TFSI Quattro 2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $64,200 2020 Audi s3 2020 Sportback 2.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs
2.0 TFSI Quattro 2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $65,800 2020 Audi s3 2020 2.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.9
Design8
Practicality7
Price and features8
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption7
Driving9
Safety8
Ownership8
Tung Nguyen
News Editor

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Pricing Guide

$65,800

Lowest price, based on new car retail price

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