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When it comes to aspects that driving enthusiasts look for in small sport sedans/hatchbacks, the 8V Audi S3 checks almost all the boxes. However, all that box-checking comes with a high price tag.
There are other equally compelling small sport sedan options on the Australian market, and one of those is the S3’s pricier, more potent sibling — the RS3. This begs the question, is the Audi S3 worth it? Let’s find out.
The Audi S3 is pricier than most competing sport sedans/hatchbacks, but cheaper than the Audi RS3. According to Carsguide.com.au, the current average price for a 2018 Audi S3 is approximately $67,825.
The more powerful Audi RS3 has a much higher average price of $95,350. While it’s clear that the Audi S3 is significantly more expensive than comparable cars in the market, we should consider what else it offers.
Without a doubt, the Audi S3 is a sweet-looking car. Its sleek, detailed styling, athletic stance and aerodynamic silhouette make it one of the most appealing small sport sedans on the market. This is why it has become an iconic car to mod, although its factory-issued sporty-styling leans toward the subtle.
There is ‘S3’ badging on its front grille and its rear deck lid. It also features a large, sporty hexagonal front grille that hints at its performance potential. The car has performance-inspired front and rear bumpers, side rockers, and an aggressive wheel and tyre setup. The usual setup is 18-inch alloy wheels with 225/40 R18 tyres. In the rear, you’ll find quad exhaust outlets and a rear diffuser.
There are many aftermarket Audi S3 body kits and body kit components on the market. You can easily make your Audi S3 look more aggressive without having to spend too much. This Maxton Design front splitter and Maxton Design spoiler cap (hatchback model) are excellent examples of mods that can make the appearance of your Audi S3 more captivating.
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One of the most compelling aspects of the Audi S3 is its 2.0-litre TFSI turbo 4-cylinder engine that generates an impressive output of 213 kW at 5,400 - 6,500 rpm, and 380 Nm of torque at 1,850 - 5,300 rpm.
Unfortunately, Australian driving enthusiasts won’t get to enjoy the more powerful 228 kW European version of this engine. This is because Audi’s engineers believe that the Australian S3 needs to be slightly detuned to cope with the hot Australian climate. Despite that, the Australian Audi S3 is still quite fast.
Every Audi S3 comes equipped with Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system, which is said to be one of the best AWD systems in the industry. It does an excellent job delivering the engine’s power and torque to all four wheels, resulting in super-quick launches. Thanks to this setup, the 8V Audi S3 is capable of sprinting from zero to 100 km/h in just 4.8 seconds. The S3 achieves an impressive combined fuel economy of 6.6 litres per 100 km.
The Golf R comes equipped with virtually the same engine. This gives it a similar zero-to-100 km/h time of 4.8 seconds. The more powerful 221 kW, 2.5-litre 4-cylinder boxer engine of the WRX STI posts a surprisingly slower zero-to-100 km/h time of 5.2 seconds.
The Audi S3’s engine is remarkably durable, and responds well to ECU tuning. With just a stage 1 ECU remap, you can achieve power gains of up to 50 horsepower (37 kW). With performance bolt-on mods like a downpipe, a cold-air intake and an intercooler, a stage 2 tune can escalate this engine’s output to over 400 horsepower.
Handling is one of the major strengths of the 8V Audi S3. It is built upon a well-honed MQB platform that has near-perfect weight distribution and a low centre of gravity. As a result, the Audi S3 enjoys excellent on-road balance, composure and impressive cornering stability.
The S3 also comes equipped with a refined MacPherson-strut front suspension and four-link rear suspension. Both have been sport-tuned to deliver firmer, sharper handling. The ride quality of the Audi S3 is quite forgiving, so you can travel in this car for hours on end without getting sore.
In addition, the Audi S3’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system has wheel-selective torque control. It gently brakes the inner wheels when the car is cornering, resulting in improved cornering stability and control. Thanks to this feature, the S3 can confidently accelerate through sharp corners, which is sure to put a smile on your face every time it happens.
An available option on the S3 is the Audi magnetic ride suspension system, which further firms-up the suspension for even sharper handling.
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Another thing that makes the Audi S3 a compelling choice is that it adds practicality to its high-performance package. With its impressive combined fuel economy of 6.6 litres per 100 km per Audi Australia, you can afford to use it for long daily work commutes.
You can also use the Audi S3 for family duty. Its cabin may be small, but it’s adequate for most needs. It offers over 36 inches of rear headroom and 35.1 inches of rear legroom, so even adults can fit in the rear seats. The Audi S3 has ample cargo space in its trunk/cargo area, and the rear seatbacks can be folded down to create even more space.
Even though you have to pay a bit more for it, the Audi S3 is hard to beat in terms of all-around value — especially when its performance specs are considered. Whether it is worth your investment is something that you can only determine for yourself, depending on what aspects are more important to you.
You can get more information about the Audi S3, and Audi S3 body kits, at AusBody Works. AusBody Works has been serving Australian car enthusiasts with affordable yet high-quality Polyurethane & ABS body kits for years.