Would you buy this Gray-Market First-Gen Audi S3 in America?

By now, the Audi S3 is a commonplace in America. While it hasn’t been around long in the ‘States, it’s proven to be very popular here. However, that wasn’t always the case. The first couple of A3 generations never made it to the ‘States, which means the sportier Audi S3 is a bit new to us Yankees. Our European friends have been enjoying them for some time now and have the distinct advantage of being able to buy inexpensive, old used ones. If you want the chance to buy an old one here, though, it’s not going to be cheap.

While you can get a current S3 brand-new, the first-gen car was never sold in the ‘States. So if you want one, you’ll have to import it. Or, you can just buy one that’s already been imported.

An imported gray-market first-gen Audi S3 has just gone up for sale in the ‘States and the seller is asking a pretty penny for it. Sure, it’s a very rare car here and it’s a very clean example, with under 60,000 miles on the clock, but $23,900 is too much to ask for an 18-year old hatchback with a 1.8T.

The first-gen Audi S3 came with a tuned version of the VW Group’s famous 1.8T turbocharged four-cylinder. It make 210 hp and 173 lb-ft of torque, which wasn’t bad for the day but is puny by modern standards. That little engine is paired with a six-speed manual gearbox and Haldex all-wheel drive, as it was based on the MKIV Volkswagen Golf.

It’s a cool little car and this example is very clean, making it a very rare bird in America, where the car was never originally sold. However, for that much money, you can get a clean B8 Audi S5 with a 4.2 liter V8, a six-speed manual and proper Quattro. So this is a cool little S3 for sale but not for $24k.

Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.