If you can look past the Madonna meets Jean Paul Gaultier interior air vent styling, the 2017 Audi S3 ends up being one of the better compact sports sedans on the market today. But, I wouldn’t pay $51,325 for it — the price tag of the model dropped off at my home for a weeklong test drive. The S3 has a base price of $42,900.
With the S3, Audi has stepped up their sister sedan, the A3, giving it sport-focused tuning but stopping one notch shy of making it truly track-ready like the RS 3, which will be coming stateside this year for the first time.
On the outside the S3 has all the looks of the A3 you’d expect but steps it up a sporty notch to include all-LED lighting and quad exhaust. The Mythos Black Metallic paint job (additional $575) on the S3 tester helped the notion of sportiness. To the eyes of anyone who isn’t an enthusiast, the S3 is nearly identical to the A3.
The Audi S3 pushes it real good
Under the hood Audi has placed a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that achieves 292 horsepower and 180 pounds-feet of torque. Like most of what is offered in Audi’s lineup, the engine is strong and capable. When combined with the six-speed automatic transmission, it yields a downright zippy drive with a peppy accelerator welcoming you to the open road.
The S3’s handling is expectedly dynamic and it proves to be agile, especially when cornering at comfortably high-speeds. It’s easy to park and scoot in and out of traffic on city streets or highways. The S3 relishes going well above the speed limit and even when it’s not the midnight hour, it cries “more, more, more.”
Thankfully, the engine stop-start technology can be turned off if the driver so chooses. By pushing a reasonably size button on the center stack, the engine is relieved of its energy saving responsibilities and drivers are left to not worry that the air conditioning will die down at each intersection, among other annoyances the technology exasperates.
If you’re not looking to take the S3 to the track, you may want to skip the dynamic package ($1,500). It comes with attractive 19-inch double-spoke-Star design wheels, summer tires, and Audi magnetic ride. Those low profile summer tires may look great but they don’t do much to make your ride any better. Go over anything larger than a pebble in the road and you’ll feel it. Don’t attempt to take a speed bump at anything other than a crawl or you’ll likely be doing repairs to the car and getting your own personal adjustment.
Is the inside as good as the outside?
To put it plainly, the interior of the Audi S3 is not as beautiful as the exterior, nor is it as high end. There are numerous plastic-like surfaces throughout the cabin that are reasonably soft to the touch but not at all attractive. The dashboard is huge. The central air vents more than slightly resemble the bust of a woman, and they easily spread air throughout the cabin with the adjustment of a central knob.
The S3 suffers from other aesthetic failures designed to look plush that miss the mark like quilted and embossed front sport seats that hold the driver and passenger in place though they are far from comfortable and only manually adjustable. To me, they weren’t worth the money (a $1,450 add on).
What cannot be denied is that Audi has one of the best cockpits in the industry. The 12.3-inch Audi virtual cockpit brings the navigation system to the driver information screen and fills the area with all the necessary information you might need while at the wheel. Audi’s technology package is a $3,000 upgrade that includes virtual cockpit, MMI navigation plus with MMI touch, cross traffic alerts and assistance, and Audi Connect.[taq-review]
Is the Audi S3 worth the price tag?
Despite the questionable interior styling, I recommend the 2017 Audi S3. It’s easy to overlook a bad interior when you’re spending so much of your time actively driving, looking at the road ahead of you, in a car that practically begs you to put miles on it.