2018 Audi S3 Sedan

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2018 Audi S3 Sedan Review

by Gabe Beita Kiser

The S3 Sedan has been around since 2013 and is built upon Volkswagen's multi-purpose MQB platform, which it shares with the likes of Volkswagen's Golf R. The S3 is the middle child of Audi's subcompact executive car range, with the standard A3 sitting below, and the RS on top. The S3 is suitably styled to mirror its place in the A3 lineup; it has an assertively sporty look that distinguishes it from the mom and pop A3 but doesn't tread on the hardcore RS's status. Powering the S3 is a turbocharged 2.0-liter making close to 292 hp (which it shares with the Golf R). As a junior exec, the S3 comes with an extensive list of tech features, but competition in this segment is tough, especially from German rivals such as BMW's M240i and the Mercedes AMG CLA 45, and for a car that's been around since 2013, can the S3 remain competitive?

Read in this review:

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2018 Audi S3 Sedan Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2017 S3 Sedan?

There haven't been any major changes for 2018. Two much-welcomed USB ports and heated seats for front passengers now come standard on the base model, while Premium Plus models now get blind-spot monitoring and lane-keep assistance. The optional technology package includes an impressive Bang & Olufsen sound system, and for those who're looking for a bit more individuality, the optional Audi S-line sports package includes a set of magnetic ride dampers and a coat of red paint for the brake calipers.

Pros and Cons

  • Luxury interior look and feel
  • Storming turbocharged engine
  • Quattro all-wheel-drive traction
  • Easy go-fast ability
  • Punches above its weight
  • Rear cargo and passenger space is tight
  • Only available in auto
  • Not the most involving sports saloon
  • It's been around since 2013...

What's the Price of the 2018 Audi S3 Sedan?

The Premium Plus starts at an MSRP of $43,650 and the Prestige starts out at $48,950. All prices exclude a destination charge of $995. The Golf R, which is comparable in almost every category costs almost four grand less for a top of the range version ($40,885). At the other end of the spectrum, the more powerful Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 will cost you $50,400.

Best Deals on 2018 Audi S3 Sedan

2018 Audi S3 Sedan Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
2.0T Premium Plus quattro
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
7-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
2.0T Prestige quattro
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
7-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
2.0T Tech Premium Plus quattro
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
7-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
2.0T Tech Prestige quattro
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
7-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
See All 2018 Audi S3 Sedan Trims and Specs

2018 S3 Sedan Exterior

2018 Audi S3 Sedan Front View Audi
2018 Audi S3 Sedan Rear View Audi
2018 Audi S3 Sedan Front Angle View Audi
See All 2018 Audi S3 Sedan Exterior Photos


  • Length 175.8 in
  • Wheelbase 103.6 in
  • Height 54.8 in
  • Max Width 70.7 in
  • Front Width 61.1 in
  • Rear Width 60.1 in
  • Curb Weight 3,462.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

  • Florett Silver Metallic +$575
  • Glacier White Metallic +$575
  • Daytona Gray Pearl Effect +$575
  • Mythos Black Metallic +$575
  • Nano Gray Metallic +$575
  • Navarra Blue Metallic +$575
  • Tango Red Metallic +$575
  • Ara Blue Crystal Effect +$1,075
  • Vegas Yellow
  • Brilliant Black

2018 S3 Sedan Performance

2018 Audi S3 Sedan Front View Driving Audi
2018 Audi S3 Sedan Rear View Driving Audi
2018 Audi S3 Sedan 2.0L I4 Turbo Engine Audi

Engine and Transmission

  • Engine
    2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmission
    7-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrain

Handling and Driving Impressions

The 2018 Audi S3 Sedan gets a lot of things right, but what it does best is deliver an exhilarating driving experience. S3 rolls on a set of 18-inch wheels, connected to a tried and trusted MacPherson strut front and a four-link rear suspension setup that provides excellent damping for fast and smooth road surfaces. Body roll is kept to a minimum, and with all four wheels gripping the road on 225/40 summer tires, the S3 has a very secure impression of mechanical grip. The electrically assisted steering system is one of the best in class and weighs up perfectly in almost every situation. Feedback through the steering wheel is good, and with all of these elements aligned, the Audi S3 will go where you point it and manages to feel fast without being intimidating. The 13.4-inch ventilated front disks and 12.2-inch rear disks provide excellent stopping power and should prove more than capable for most driving situations.

Yet despite the outright capability proffered by the S3, it feels somewhat cold. Easy speed at the expense of involvement, and always the sensation that you're being constantly micro-managed by the computer systems, giving the impression of play, but all within predetermined confines.

2018 S3 Sedan Interior

2018 Audi S3 Sedan Steering Wheel Audi
2018 Audi S3 Sedan Dashboard Audi
2018 Audi S3 Sedan Steering Wheel 1 Audi
See All 2018 Audi S3 Sedan Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

  • Seating capacity
  • Front Leg Room 41.2 in
  • Front Head Room 39.6 in
  • Rear Leg Room 35.1 in
  • Rear Head Room 36.4 in

2018 S3 Sedan Trunk and Cargo Space

2018 Audi S3 Sedan Rear Passenger Seats Audi
2018 Audi S3 Sedan Rear Angle View Audi
2018 Audi S3 Sedan Side View Audi
  • Trunk Volume
    10 ft³

2018 S3 Sedan Safety and Reliability


  • Basic:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    12 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    4 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Maintenance:
    1 Years \ 10,000 Miles

US NHTSA Crash Test Result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Verdict: Is the 2018 Audi S3 Sedan A Good car?

The standard A3 range of cars has been lauded for its everyday practicality, premium design, comfort, and safety levels, not to mention the fact that the performance and road-holding balance is class-leading. This basic concept is carried through to the S3. All the features and comforts of the humble A3 are transferred over to the S3, making it as easy to live with as any other subcompact sedan, but beneath the skin hides a true Audi performance car. The subtle exterior styling cues give the S3 a sense of anonymity that's rare to find in the sports car market these days. The S3 deserves the title of executive subcompact thanks to premium quality interior materials and a long list of standard features, but the main attraction is most certainly the way it drives. Audi's Quattro system helps the S3 hug the road like little else can, and the suspension setup finds a fair compromise between body-roll killing stiffness and low-speed comfort. Steering feedback is great and driver inputs are greeted with eagerness. The 2.0-liter engine delivers its best performance in the mid-range but pulls cleanly right up to the limit, and delivers acceptable gas mileage for such a performance-oriented car. The 2018 Audi S3 sedan isn't the most powerful or spacious car in its class, but as an overall package, it ranks close to the top.

What Audi S3 Sedan Model Should I Buy?

The Premium Plus S3 is already loaded with features, including full LED headlights, a leather interior, and Audi's MMI infotainment system, but lacks the top safety features included on the Prestige. It also misses out on the 12.3-inch virtual cockpit display and 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system. The Prestige bundles all of the top features of the A3 family into one, and with a price difference of less than $4,000, it only makes sense to stretch for the higher-spec car, which offers superior levels of safety and will age less than the Premium Plus thanks to better infotainment tech. We'd also opt for the incredible S sports seats and the S Sport package for the adaptive suspension dampers. It pushes the price up but enables the S3 to outgun more costly rivals with ease.

2018 Audi S3 Sedan Comparisons

Volkswagen Golf R Volkswagen
Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 Mercedes-Benz
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Audi S3 Sedan306 hp23/32 mpg$46,800
Volkswagen Golf R 315 hp20/28 mpg$44,740
Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 382 hp20/29 mpg$55,900

2018 Audi S3 Sedan vs Volkswagen Golf R

The Audi S3 was bound to be compared against Volkswagen's super hatch, the Golf R. What some might not know is that these cars share the same platform and engine, and both send power to all four wheels, but that's where the similarities end. The first major difference is the fact that Audi's S3 has a trunk, whereas the Golf is a liftgate hatch. In terms of practicality, the Golf is good. It has a touch less cargo space but will be easier to live with thanks to a large rear opening liftgate. Both cars offer excellent driving dynamics, similar straight-line speed and are reasonably light on fuel. The Golf offers great value for money at $40,885 for a full house version and starts well under the S3's base asking price, but the Audi offers a better image and status.

See Volkswagen Golf R Review

2018 Audi S3 Sedan vs Mercedes-AMG CLA 45

The Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA 45 shares similar dimensions with the S3, but manages to offer slightly more interior and cargo space, even if ingress and egress are hampered by the coupe-like roofline. The CLA 45 is considerably more powerful than the S3, and despite an AWD system, heavier curb weight and loads more power, the Merc uses less fuel. But it is quicker, at least as far as claims on paper go, with the AMG managing the 0-60 mph sprint nearly half a second quicker than the S3. However, numbers don't tell the whole tale, and on the move, the AMG is disappointing, with a crashy ride, substandard dynamics, and an over-reliance on computer systems compared to the S3's foundation of solid engineering. The S3 is more fun to drive, and the interior feels far more premium than that of the AMG. With the Audi priced at $1,000 less in its most expensive guise than the CLA 45 in its cheapest, the S3 presents itself as better value for money, making it our pick, even if it lacks the theater of the AMG.

See Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 Review
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