We’ve done many comparison articles for different Audi vehicles, such as the Audi A3 vs A4 and the Audi S3 vs S4, but we haven’t gone into the Audi A3 vs S3, until now. To be upfront, there aren’t very many differences between the two, but we will go more into that below. We will specifically be going over price, size, performance, reliability, safety, and more for both vehicles. The Audi A3 is one of Audi’s most popular subcompact sedans and it has a very popular sport variant as well, the S3.
Audi A3 vs S3 – The Basics
The Audi A3 was first introduced in 1996 and is still being produced today. Since its inception, there have been 4 generations. The first generation was built on the PQ34 platform, the second generation was built on the PQ35 platform, the third generation was built on the MQB platform, and lastly, the fourth generation was built on the MQB Evo platform. The A3 is a subcompact executive family car. The A3 has had many different body styles since it was introduced: a 3-door hatchback, 5-door Sportback, 2-door cabriolet (convertible), and a 4-door sedan.
The Audi S3 was introduced shortly after the A3 in 1999 and is still being produced today. The S3 platforms are the exact same as the A3s platforms. The S3 is a subcompact executive car that is the sport, or high-performance, variant of the Audi A3. It also featured many different body styles: a 3-door hot hatch, 5-door Sportback, and a 4-door sedan.
Audi A3 Generations
Audi S3 Generations
- 8L S3 (1999-2003)
- 8P S3 (2006-2013)
- 8V S3 (2013-2020)
- 8Y S3 (2020-Present)
Audi A3 vs S3 Price
In this portion, we will be going over the new 2022, as of this writing, model prices and used prices for the A3 and S3.
New Audi A3 & S3 Price
In this portion, we will be going over the new 2022 model year prices. A FWD Premium Audi A3 with a 2.0T TFSI engine starts at $34,800, a FWD Premium Plus with the same engine starts at $38,100, and lastly, a FWD Prestige Audi A3 with the same engine starts at $42,100. There is a quattro® version of these with the same engine that costs $2,000 more. Therefore, a quattro Premium Audi A3 with a 2.0T TFSI engine starts at $36,800, a quattro Premium Plus with the same engine starts at $40,100, and lastly, a quattro Prestige Audi A3 with the same engine starts at $44,100. A Premium Audi S3 with a tuned 2.0T TFSI engine starts at $45,800, a Premium Plus with the same engine starts at $48,600, and lastly, a Prestige Audi S3 with the same engine starts at $52,400.
If you are curious about the trim differences with Audi’s, here is an article we wrote about the different Audi trims.
Used Audi A3 & S3 Price’s
When it comes to used Audi A3s vs S3s, pricing is pretty much consistent with new prices. With that, we mean that since the S3 is the high-performance variant of the A3, it tends to be a bit more expensive. We will be basing prices on the most popular generations for both models: 8V A3 & 8V S3. A used 8V A3s price ranges from $17,998 – $38,998* with an average price overall of $27,000, depending on model year and mileage. A used 8V S3 price ranges from $14,995 – $51,995* with an average price overall of $33,495, depending on model year and mileage. The S3 is more expensive on the new and used side. So, is the Audi S3 worth the extra money?
*At the time of writing this article, we believe we are in a market where used vehicles are inflated, so consider that when seeing the used prices above.
General A3 & S3 Topics
A3 vs S3 Size
Below are some basic details about the size and weight differences seen between the 2022 Audi A3 and the 2022 Audi S3.
Audi A3 vs S3
To no surprise, since the S3 is derived from the A3, there are very few differences between the two. The only differences are .4″ in length, .5″ differences in height, .1″ in wheelbase, curb weight, and a couple of feet more in cargo space. We think size should not be a deciding factor when choosing between the two models. Therefore, we will go into probably the biggest difference and why many consumers choose the S3 over the A3, performance.
Audi A3 vs S3 Performance
For consistencies sake, we will be using the 2022 A3 and 2022 S3 performance specs.
Engines, Drivetrain, & Fuel Economy
A 2022 Audi A3 features a 2.0T TFSI engine that puts out 201hp and 221 lb-ft of torque in three different trims: Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige. Putting down a 0-60 time of 6.6 seconds and a top speed of 130mph. This engine offers a FWD drivetrain and an upgraded option of Audi’s AWD system, quattro®. It also offers a 7-speed S Tronic automatic transmission. The 2.0T engine gets 29mpg in the city and 38mpg on the highway for a combined mpg of 32 with a 13.2gal fuel tank.
A 2022 Audi S3 has the exact same engine as the A3, but it is tuned for more performance. It features a tuned 2.0T TFSI engine that puts out 306hp and 295 lb-ft of torque in three different trims: Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige. Putting down a 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 155mph. This engine comes standard with a 7-speed S Tronic automatic transmission with Audi’s quattro® AWD system. The tuned 2.0T engine gets 23mpg in the city and 32mpg on the highway for a combined mpg of 27 with a 14.5gal fuel tank. On top of the engine, the S3s ride is firmer and the brakes are better.
A3 & S3 Reliability and Common Problems
Is the Audi A3 reliable? The Audi A3s reliability rating is average. RepairPal gave it a 3.5 out of 5 reliability rating, while other sites have it rated 51.7 out of 100, which is below the average of 57. The average annual maintenance costs, or annual ownership costs, of an Audi A3, are $741. This comes below the average annual ownership cost for luxury compact cars of $801.
Common problems seen in A3s are engine misfires due to premature ignition coil or spark plug failure, HPFP (high-pressure fuel pump) failure, start-stop system malfunction, transmission issues, fuel system issues, and more. If maintained properly, we’ve seen MANY A3s surpass the 250,000 mile mark or more.
Is the Audi S3 reliable? The S3s overall reliability is below average. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of information dedicated to the S3’s reliability aside from forums. After scrolling through multiple sources, we have seen mixed reviews when it comes to reliability. However, the average annual maintenance costs, or annual ownership costs, of an Audi S3, are $974. This comes above the average annual ownership cost for luxury midsize cars of $739.
Common problems that are seen in S3 are as followed: fuel system issues, water pump or thermostat failure, electrical issues, A/C issues, power window regulator failure, and ignition coil or speak plug failure. If properly maintained, an S3 can last up to 150,000 miles or more. Once it hits 100,000 miles, preventative maintenance is crucial for longevity.
A3 vs S3 – Which is Better?
When it comes to choosing which model is better, we think it’s rather subjective. We can’t say which model is better for every consumer, but we can give our opinion based on our lifestyle. Although more expensive, the S3 better suits us because we love high-performance lightweight vehicles. Both have 5-start safety ratings. Both have similar tech and safety specs. The A3 is slightly more reliable according to multiple sources. The S3 does have a sportier aesthetic.
To assist in answering this question, we highly advise going to a local Audi dealership or used lot to test drive both. There is nothing better than getting a first-hand experience in both models.
Audi A3 vs S3 Conclusion
In conclusion, we know that purchasing a luxury vehicle is not a small decision, so we hope the information above has assisted in your purchasing decision. In short, the Audi A3 gets better gas mileage, while the S3 is a higher-performance model with a more powerful engine and better handling. Both models have different pros and cons, it all depends on consumers’ lifestyles and vehicle needs. If you happen to have experience with either vehicle, please let us know in the comments. This will further assist future readers in choosing which model suits them best.