The Audi S3 begins life as an A3 sedan but amps that car's 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder up to 292 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission and standard Quattro all-wheel-drive help the S3 hit 60 miles per hour in 4.7 seconds and reach a top speed of 155 mph. But more than just a one-trick pony, Audi upgraded the brakes and added a firmer, lower suspension, to better harness the S3's straight-line speed.
Despite this impressive performance, the S3 still manages to return an EPA estimated 22 miles per gallon city, 28 mpg highway, and 25 combined. There are no powertrain options.
The subtle styling updates unique to the S3 include more aggressively shaped front ad rear fascias, side sills, bright aluminum trim, and quad exhaust outlets. Audi has always been on the forefront of lighting design and the S3 is exemplifies that with full LED headlights and taillights that feature dynamic turn signals.
The base S3 starts at $44,625 (including $975 destination charge) and features a standard, knob-controlled MMI infotainment system with a 10-speaker audio setup and SiriusXM, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto capability. The heated 12-way power leather sport seats offer more support, while the proximity key and push-button start minimize the fuss necessary to get underway. On the safety end, Audi includes pre-collision automatic braking, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, and automatic headlights and windshield wipers.
There are plenty of optional goodies for the most basic S3. S Sport seats, which feature more luxurious leather upholstery, will add $1,450. The Technology Package ($3,200) brings navigation with an upgraded MMI infotainment system that gains touch controls on the control knob, a 14-speaker Bang and Olufsen audio system, Audi’s Virtual Cockpit instrument clsuter, and Audi Connect remote vehicle services. This is a very worthwhile package.
A Black Optic Dynamic Package features black 19-inch wheels and black exterior accents – as opposed to bright aluminum – for $1,300. For $800, the 19-inch wheels are available separately. The S Sport Package ($1,100) adds magnetically adjustable dampers to enhance the ride in all conditions. Last but not least, rear side airbags can be added for $350.
At the top of the S3 line is the $5,300 Prestige Package, which automatically adds a number of lesser features, including the entire Technology Package, along with a wifi hotspot and a full array of active safety systems, including adaptive cruise control with stop/go capability. The S Sport Package, S Sport Seats, Black Optic Dynamic Package, and 19-inch wheels are remain available as options.
The Audi S3 is a fine standalone offering, so don't feel obligated to go crazy with the options sheet. At the very least, we'd suggest adding the Technology Package for its sheer quality of life upgrades. The Black Optic Package is a wonderful aesthetic option, too, but hardly necessary – the S3 is pretty much great from the start.
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