2017 Audi S3

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$42,900–$42,900 MSRP range
(4.4) 5 reviews
Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
Warranty & CPO
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Key Specs

of the 2017 Audi S3. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    24 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    292-hp, 2.0-liter I-4 (premium)
  • Drivetrain:
    All-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    6-speed auto-shift manual w/OD and auto-manual
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Smooth-revving, strong engine
  • Quick-shifting dual-clutch transmission
  • Cabin roominess for class
  • Digital instrumentation's graphics quality
  • Massive standard power moonroof
  • Standard leather upholstery, aluminum trim

The Bad

  • Overly firm adaptive suspension
  • Unremarkable handling
  • Limited steering feedback
  • Mostly manual adjustments for optional S sport seats
  • Gas-pedal lag
  • Minimal in-cabin storage
2017 Audi S3 exterior side view

Notable Features of the 2017 Audi S3

  • Performance version of A3 sedan
  • 292-hp, turbo four-cylinder
  • All-wheel drive standard
  • Automatic emergency braking standard
  • Color LCD instrument panel available
  • Adaptive suspension available

2017 Audi S3 Road Test

Mike Hanley
The Verdict:

Audi's flyweight sports sedan is powered by a turbo four-cylinder that punches hard, but the optional magnetic ride suspension's ultra-firm tuning needlessly beats you up.

Versus The Competition:

The S3 is one of the less expensive models in its class. Its cabin offers more room, but a rough ride and uninspired handling dampen its appeal.

Audi has spread its S performance sub-brand across its car lineup, including everything from the full-size S8 luxury sedan down to the subcompact S3 hatchback. It's a strategy also followed by fellow German luxury brands BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Those brands offer, respectively, the M240i coupe and AMG CLA45 sedan as S3 competitors (see all their specs compared here).

The Audi S3 has standard quattro all-wheel drive and starts at $43,850, including a $950 destination charge, but our test car came to $51,325 with optional features including navigation, blind spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, a configurable LCD instrument panel, 19-inch wheels with summer tires, a magnetic ride adaptive suspension, manually adjustable S sport seats, and a Bang & Olufsen premium stereo.

How It Drives

The S3's personality is much different from that of the A3 sedan on which it's based, and its hard-edged character comes through in the magnetic ride suspension's tuning. The ride is quite firm, choppy and, on rougher surfaces, sometimes brittle — even in the Drive Select system's Comfort mode, it doesn't deliver anywhere near a comfortable ride. Choosing the Dynamic setting firms up the suspension even more and makes the ride even busier.

A firmly tuned suspension doesn't automatically mean a car will be entertaining to drive, and the Audi S3 proves that. Body roll is well controlled in corners, and quick steering turn-in swings the nose nicely i...

Audi has spread its S performance sub-brand across its car lineup, including everything from the full-size S8 luxury sedan down to the subcompact S3 hatchback. It's a strategy also followed by fellow German luxury brands BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Those brands offer, respectively, the M240i coupe and AMG CLA45 sedan as S3 competitors (see all their specs compared here).

The Audi S3 has standard quattro all-wheel drive and starts at $43,850, including a $950 destination charge, but our test car came to $51,325 with optional features including navigation, blind spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, a configurable LCD instrument panel, 19-inch wheels with summer tires, a magnetic ride adaptive suspension, manually adjustable S sport seats, and a Bang & Olufsen premium stereo.

How It Drives

The S3's personality is much different from that of the A3 sedan on which it's based, and its hard-edged character comes through in the magnetic ride suspension's tuning. The ride is quite firm, choppy and, on rougher surfaces, sometimes brittle — even in the Drive Select system's Comfort mode, it doesn't deliver anywhere near a comfortable ride. Choosing the Dynamic setting firms up the suspension even more and makes the ride even busier.

A firmly tuned suspension doesn't automatically mean a car will be entertaining to drive, and the Audi S3 proves that. Body roll is well controlled in corners, and quick steering turn-in swings the nose nicely into corners, but the S3 doesn't urge you on when tossed into a turn like the BMW 2 Series does. The S3 is more isolating, and its steering is a big reason why. The steering wheel is highly power-assisted in Comfort mode, which lets you turn the wheel easily but doesn't deliver much feedback. It feels a little heavier in Dynamic, but feedback is still limited.

While the S3 comes up short on the handling front, its performance-oriented 292-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder is quite good. Smooth-revving with strong low-end power, the engine serves up swift acceleration and has ample reserves for high-speed passing.

The only transmission offered is a six-speed, dual-clutch unit. Audi has done a good job tuning it and has mostly eliminated this type of transmission's tendency to lunge forward when letting off the brake from a stop. It did happen to me once or twice, but the transmission otherwise had the same kind of idle-creep as a regular automatic, with the added ability to make impressively quick shifts. A Sport mode is included; it keeps the transmission in lower gears and makes more aggressive downshifts when slowing down. There's some gas-pedal lag when accelerating from a standing start in Comfort, but selecting Dynamic mode minimizes it.

EPA-estimated gas mileage is 21/28/24 mpg city/highway/combined. The all-wheel-drive M240i and AMG CLA45 both make more power than the Audi S3 but are also more efficient: the M240i gets an estimated 25 mpg combined and the AMG CLA45 is rated at 26 mpg.

The Inside

The S3's cabin has much of the premium feel that's become a signature of Audi interiors, but the car's roots as an entry-luxury sedan are more evident here than they are in the driving experience. There are upscale cues, like leather upholstery and brushed aluminum trim on the dashboard and doors, but the soft-touch dash and door surfaces have a rubberized finish that doesn't feel particularly luxurious. Plus, the lower part of the door panels is hard plastic.

Other features, however, seem like they're from a more expensive luxury car. The optional Virtual Cockpit digital instrument screen has crisp, bright graphics. It's also configurable, so you can put different types of information front and center, including a Google Earth map view (if you maintain an active Audi Connect subscription). Audi's infotainment Multi Media Interface has a rotary knob surrounded by buttons and switches that operate the radio, optional navigation system and other features. MMI isn't as intuitive as BMW's iDrive system, which also uses a console controller to navigate on-screen menus, but I got the hang of it in a few days. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity is standard.

There's decent room overall in front, but not much extra headroom; a large power moonroof is standard. The optional S sport seats have substantial side bolsters that keep you in place during fast corners, as well as fixed head restraints. The seats have power-adjustable lumbar support, but the rest of the adjustments are manual — unlike the standard sport seats, which are power-adjustable. Manual seats aren't common at this price, and the lack of power adjustments could become quite annoying if you share a car with someone who sits differently from you.

The backseat is passable for taller adults, but there's not much extra space and the seat cushion is a little low. Still, it's more accommodating than a CLA-Class. The S3's standard split, folding backrest includes a trunk pass-through. The seat folds flat with the cargo floor, extending the 10-cubic-foot trunk. 

Safety

The Audi S3 received a five-star overall rating — the highest possible score — from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for its front- and side-impact crash performance and rollover resistance.

Forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking is standard. Front and rear parking sensors and a backup camera are also standard. Options include blind spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist.

Value in Its Class

The S3's $43,850 base price may seem steep for a subcompact sedan, but it includes a lot of standard features at that price while still being one of the more affordable models in its class. Still, unless you really crave the extra power of the S3's high-output turbo four-cylinder and the cachet that comes with the small car S model, Audi's own A4 is a compelling alternative. It's roomier, still feels quick, has a more comfortable ride and is less expensive. That said, if only a new Audi S3 will do, you should think long and hard (and test drive) before getting one with the Dynamic Package and the magnetic ride suspension.


Latest 2017 S3 Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(5.0)
Performance
(4.8)
Interior Design
(5.0)
Comfort
(4.2)
Reliability
(4.5)
Value For The Money
(4.0)

Latest Reviews

(4.0)

I've had a lot of fun with this car

by willoc1 from Austin TX on April 27, 2018

This car looks great, has been pretty reliable and I have 45k miles on it now. Love the acceleration with very little turbo lag (mostly drive in sport mode - you will feel lag in comfort mode) B&O ... Read full review

(4.0)

A serious upgrade all over

by Mo Griff from Brandon, FL on March 17, 2018

Awesome car! This car is like eye candy. Great handling, love all the bells and whistles. Pretty nice gas mileage, filling the tank up once a is way cheaper. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2017 Audi S3 currently has 1 recall

Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2017 Audi S3 has not been tested.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    48 months / unlimited distance

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Audi

Program Benefits

Comprehensive 300+ point dealer inspection, 24/7 roadside assistance including towing and trip interruption reimbursement, 1 Year/Unlimited Miles Audi Certified pre-owned Limited Warranty coverage, transferability of the Audi Certified pre-owned Limited Warranty to a subsequent private owner, and CARFAX® Vehicle History Report.

  • Limited Warranty

    1 Year / Unlimited Miles

    1 Year/ Unlimited Miles Audi Certified pre-owned Limited Warranty features 1 Year / Unlimited Miles of warranty coverage after the expiration of the new vehicle limited warranty or from the date of sale if the new vehicle limited warranty has expired and coverage honored at over 300 Audi dealerships service centers throughout the U.S., total confidence is yours as you take the road less traveled.
  • Eligibility

    Under 5 years / 60,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 300+ point inspection.

    See inspection details.

Change Year or Vehicle

All Model Years for the Audi S3

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The S3 received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker