Audi not only has a huge suite of sedans to choose from, but they also have multiple variants to choose from for each one. If you have been in the market for one of their high-performance variants, you’ve likely run across the S3 or S4. The S3 is a subcompact executive car, while the S4 is a compact executive car. If you find yourself on the fence on which one to choose between the Audi S3 vs S4, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’ll be going over price, size, performance, reliability, safety, and more to assist in the purchasing decision.
Audi S3 vs S4 – The Basics
The Audi S3 was first introduced in 1999 and is still being produced today. The S3 is a high-performance variant of the already popular Audi A3. There have been four different generations since the S3’s inception. 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 the fourth generation was built on the MQB Evo platform.
The Audi S4 was first introduced in 1991 and is still being produced today. The S4 is a high-performance variant of the already popular Audi A4. There have been six different generations since the S4’s inception. The first generation was built on the C4 platform, the second generation was built on the B5 platform, the third generation was built on the B6 (PL46) platform, the fourth generation was built on the B7 (PL46) platform, and the fifth and sixth generation was built on the MLB platform.
Audi S3 Generations
- 8L S3 (1999-2003)
- 8P S3 (2006-2013)
- 8V S3 (2013-2020)
- 8Y S3 (2020-Present)
Audi S4 Generations
- C4 S4 (1991-1994)
- B5 S4 (1997-2002)
- B6 S4 (2003-2005)
- B7 S4 (2005-2009)
- B8 S4 (2009-2016)
- B9 S4 (2017-Present)
As you can see, both of these models have been around for over 2 decades. These have been staples in Audi’s rich history. Now that you see the different generations, we’ll go into the most important consideration, in our opinion, when it comes to purchasing a vehicle.
Audi S3 vs S4 Price
In this portion, we will not only be going over brand new 2022 model prices, but also used prices. A Premium Audi S3 with a 2.0 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. A Premium Audi S4 with a 3.0 V6 TFSI starts at $51,900, a Premium Plus with the same engine starts at $55,500, and lastly, a Prestige Audi S4 with the same engine starts at $60,200.
When it comes to used Audi S3s vs S4s, pricing is pretty much consistent with new prices. With that, we mean since the S4 is a compact vehicle, rather than a subcompact, it tends to be a bit more expensive. Since there are so many generations, we will be basing it off of the most popular generations for both models: 8V S3 & B9 S4. A used 8V S3 price ranges from $30,998 – $47,998* with an average price overall of $39,500, depending on model year and mileage. A used B9 S4 price ranges from $33,995 – $65,998* with an average price overall of $49,995, depending on model year and mileage. The S4 is more expensive on the new and used side. So, is the Audi S4 worth the extra money? We’ll jump into more considerations below, including size, performance, and more.
*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 S3 & S4 Topics
S3 vs S4 Size
Below are some basic details about the size and weight differences seen between the 2022 Audi S3 and the 2022 Audi S4.
Audi S3 vs S4
To no surprise, since the S4 is a compact sedan while the S3 is a subcompact sedan, all the measurements are larger for the S4. Therefore, if you plan on having backseat passengers more often, the S4 would be better suited. This is not saying that you can’t have passengers in the back seat of an S3, but it would be less comfortable. The only thing that is bigger on the S3 is the cargo space and it is only an inch. So according to size, it’s pretty straightforward. If you need more space, go with the S4.
Audi S3 vs S4 Performance
For consistencies sake, we will be using the 2022 S3 and 2022 S4 performance specs.
Engines, Drivetrain, & Fuel Economy
A 2022 Audi S3 features a 2.0T TFSI quattro® 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 offers a 7-speed S Tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission with Audi’s quattro® AWD system. The dual-clutch transmission is regarded as providing a smoother ride than the Tiptronic transmission that the S4 offers. The 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.
A 2022 Audi S4 features a 3.0 V6 TFSI quattro® engine that puts out 349hp and 369 lb-ft of torque in three different trims: Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige. Putting down a 0-60 time of 4.4 seconds and a top speed of 155mph. This engine offers an 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission with Audi’s quattro® AWD system. The 3.0T engine gets 21mpg in the city and 30mpg on the highway for a combined mpg of 24 with a 15.3gal fuel tank.
S3 & S4 Reliability and Common Problems
Is the Audi S3 reliable? The S3’s overall reliability is below average. There isn’t a lot of information dedicated to the S3’s reliability aside from forums, so based on this, we have seen mixed reviews when it comes to reliability. The A3’s reliability is below average. The average annual maintenance of an Audi S3 is $974, which is above the average luxury midsize cars of $739.
Common problems that are seen in S3 are as followed: ignition coil or speak plug failure, fuel system issues, A/C issues, electrical issues, power window regulator failure, and water pump or thermostat failure. If an S3 is properly maintained, we’ve seen them last up to 150,000, but are issues that arise at 100,000 miles.
Is the Audi S4 reliable? The S4’s overall reliability is below average. RepairPal has rated the S4’s reliability 2 out of 5 which is below the average luxury midsize car reliability rating of 3.5 out of 5. Model years that should be avoided are 2015-2017 because of carbon buildup and intake manifold issues. The average annual maintenance of an Audi S4 is $1,171, which is above the average luxury midsize cars of $739.
Common problems that are seen in S4 are as followed: premature fuel injector failure, ignition coil or speak plug failure, water pump or thermostat failure, PCV valve failure, carbon build-up, and deteriorating bushings. If an S4 is properly maintained, we’ve seen them last up to 150,000, but are issues that arise at 100,000 miles.
S3 vs S4 – Which is Better?
The question you’ve all been waiting for, is which high-performance Audi is better: the Audi S3 vs S4? We feel this is rather subjective because we know that consumers’ vehicle needs and lifestyles are different. Our personal opinion is the S3 because it provides the biggest bang-for-your-buck if your sole reason for a car is not power or space. Both models have similar high safety ratings and similar interiors. The only difference between the S4 and S3 interior is that the S4 has a larger center screen. The S3 beats the S4s fuel economy, handling, ride, and cargo space. The S4 beats the S3s reliability, power, and size. So it really all depends on what matters most to the end consumer.
Are you willing to pay a few extra thousand dollars to get the S4s bigger, more powerful engine and more space? If you need the space, then it should be an easy decision. But the S3 definitely is a contender because of price. Now with all of this said, we highly advise going to your local Audi dealer or used lot to take them both out for a spin. The best thing you can do is get first-hand experience in both vehicles, see them in person, and then make your decision based on that. We can’t tell you how many times we have made a decision before driving a car later to change our mind because the other car felt better.
Audi S3 vs S4 Conclusion
To wrap up this article, we hope the information that has been provided above assists you in your purchasing decision. The S3 and S4 have many similarities and a few differences and, depending on a consumer’s lifestyle, pros and cons. If you happen to have experience with either or both vehicles, comment below to share your preference. Do you prefer the larger and more powerful S4? Or the smaller, sportier S3?