Audi's A3 is a popular compact sedan thanks to its good looks, modern interior and peppy performance. Its size makes it easy to drive, and it has lots of bells and whistles, too. But what if you find the stock performance lacking? The S3 aims to fill the void with more power (186 or 220 hp versus 292 hp), larger brakes, stickier tires and more aggressive suspension calibration.
The S3 is available in two trims, Premium Plus and Prestige. They both share the same 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, six-speed, dual-clutch transmission, and Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system. But you'll probably most appreciate the modern and sophisticated interior, as well as standard technology features.
The Premium Plus S3 comes with 12-way power leather front seats with heating, panoramic sunroof, aluminum interior package with matte-brushed aluminum inlays, and a folding rear seat. From a technology perspective, the S3 features a 10-speaker stereo system that receives AM/FM, HD and satellite radio. It also interfaces with Bluetooth, with an auxiliary input jack and two USB ports. This system also features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay so your smartphone can integrate directly with the car. Keyless entry and ignition are standard, of course.
The Prestige adds a Bang & Olufsen stereo system with 14 speakers, Audi's Virtual Cockpit dashboard system, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic assist, and built-in navigation.
From a market perspective, the S3 is in an interesting spot. It offers more dynamic performance than some larger Japanese and European sport sedans, but it's priced higher. It has more doors and more cargo volume than some of its German coupe competitors. Nevertheless, the S3 has the just-right size while being a fun companion whether you're in the city or the mountains. And unlike other Audi models, the S3 has just about all the good stuff standard. The only other packages available are an S Sport Seat package that includes awesome quilted leather bucket seats, a Dynamic package that features larger 19-inch wheels and adjustable dampers, a Black Optic package that includes titanium matte 19-inch wheels, adjustable dampers, blacked-out exterior body kit, and mirror caps in body color, and a new S Sport package that includes red brake calipers and adjustable dampers.
From our perspective, the hot setup would be the Premium Plus trim with the S Sport seats, or go for maximum technology and opt for the Prestige. Either way, let Edmunds be your guide to finding your perfect 2018 Audi S3.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.