Most critics of the Audi S3 will say that’s just a gussied up Volkswagen Golf R and there’s a lot of merit to those complaints. Both cars are built on the same chassis, both essentially the same engine, and have similar performance. The main difference is that the Audi costs more and is supposed to be more premium. But is it actually worth the extra money? This new video from The Smoking Tire finds out.
Let’s start with the specs. The Audi S3 is based on the same MQB architecture as the new Volkswagen Golf R and GTI, which is where all of the comparisons come from. Its 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine makes 306 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. That’s actually not as much as the Golf R’s 315 horsepower (but the same torque), which can be frustrating because of the Audi’s price tag. But the performance is about the same — 0-60 mph in about 4.5 seconds. The Audi S3 uses a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, which is Audi’s own and not the same as the Golf R’s six-speed dual-clutch, but it uses a similar Haldex all-wheel drive system.
So is the Audi S3 worth the extra money over the Volkswagen Golf R? The Volkswagen starts at almost $44,000, while the Audi S3 starts at just under $45,000. So the Audi isn’t even $2,000 more than the Volkswagen. However, its interior is entirely different, its tech is different, and it looks massively different.
Typically, cars like the Audi S3 get criticized for their lack of proper handling and dynamics but the little S3 seems to be fun in this video. TST’s Matt Farah drove it on a lovely mountain road in San Francisco and he seemed to enjoy the S3 as a whole. Its power is more than enough, its steering is good, its grip is impressive, and it’s the right size on the road.
When you combine its superior interior, fun-to-drive handling, better technology, and more premium looks, it certainly seems that the Audi S3 is the better buy than the Volkswagen Golf R, especially when you figure the Audi is only a couple thousand dollars more expensive.