The 2020 Audi S3 – A General Overview

The Audi S3 is a small performance vehicle which was first released by Audi in 1999 as a 3-door hatchback. Now, in 2020, three different models of the S3 are available for sale in Australia. Let’s take a look at it’s features, including safety features, fuel efficiency, drive select modes, and oil type.

How Does the 2020 S3 Differ From Its Predecessors?

Compared to previous S3 models, the 2020 S3 has been updated in a number of ways. The engine is a revised version of the previous 2.0 L turbocharged model, but the car itself is slightly lighter; making it sprightlier to drive. It also has a modified electric power steering for more responsive handling.

The S3 now comes with 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, with the shift paddles mounted on the steering wheel.

Looking at the exterior, it now has a longer, pointier bonnet as well as a stretched grille and LED headlights. At the rear there are four exhaust pipes, adding to the sporty look.

On the inside, the traditional controls have been replaced by Audi’s MMI (Multi Media Interface) infotainment system now found in other Audi models, including a touchscreen with a smartphone interface, and Audi’s Virtual Cockpit. The Virtual Cockpit has three different display configurations that can be customised according to the driver’s preference. An option specific to Audi’s sports models such as the S3 is the Sport mode which displays the rev counter in the centre.

What Models of the S3 Are Available?

The Audi S3 comes in three different models: the Sportback, the Sedan and the Cabriolet. The Sportback is a 5-door hatchback whereas the Cabriolet is a 3-door soft-top convertible.

As you would expect, they are all quite similar, sharing a 2.0 L TFSI turbocharged engine, accelerating from 0-100 km/h in only 4.8 seconds (5.3 for the Cabriolet). They all have Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system; which makes the car more enjoyable to drive as well as increasing safety.

The 2020 S3 is slightly lighter than its predecessor, making it sprightlier to drive

All models seat 5 people, although the Cabriolet has less room in the rear.

Standard Features of the 2020 Audi S3

Below is a table listing a number of the features available as standard on the three different models of the 2020 Audi S3 in Australia.

2.0 L TFSI turbocharged engineYesYesYes
7-speed dual clutch S tronic transmissionYesYesYes
19″ Audi Sport alloy wheelsYesYesYes
LED headlights and LED rear lightsYesYesYes
Space saver spare wheelYesYesNo (has tyre repair kit)
S sports seats in Nappa leather (front)YesYesYes
Sport leather steering wheel with shift paddlesYesYesYes
LED interior lighting packageYesYesYes
MMI navigation (Audi virtual cockpit)YesYesYes
Touchscreen smartphone interfaceYesYesYes
Folding, heated exterior mirrorsYesYesYes
Auto-dimming rear-view mirrorYesYesYes
Bang and Olufsen sound systemYesYesYes
DAB+ digital radioYesYesYes
Adaptive cruise controlYesYesYes
Park assistYesYesYes
Rear-view cameraYesYesYes
S design red brake calipersYesYesYes
Electronic stability control (ESC)YesYesYes
Magnetic rideYesYesYes
Progressive steeringYesYesYes
Sport suspensionYesYesYes

How is the S3 Different From the A3?

You might well wonder whether the S3 just a different version of the A3? Well, sort of. Audi Australia themselves list the S3 as a sub-category of the A3 on their website. And ANCAP (which crash tests vehicles to give a safety rating) states that the results for the A3 apply to all models including S3s.

The A3 is available with a 2.0 L engine like the S3, and many technological and design features are similar in both such as the MMI display. They are very similar in terms of interior seating and space; both seat five passengers and have the same amount of legroom for rear passengers (although the boot of the S3 is slightly smaller).

The main differences are a reflection of that the S3 is designed as a performance vehicle, whereas the A3 is more of an everyday (albeit a very nice) car. The S3 features the quattro all-wheel-drive system compared to the A3’s front wheel drive (quattro-AWD is an optional extra for the A3). As mentioned above the S3 gets from 0-100 km/h in only 4.8 seconds. The S3’s torque, power and top speed are also all higher than the A3.

How Safe is the Audi S3?

ANCAP has published test results on the Audi A3, (supplied by EuroNCAP), to give it a safety rating which also applies to the S3. The most recent test results are from 2018 and give it a rating of 5 out of a possible 5 stars with a staggering overall score of 36.41 out of 37, meaning the S3 is a very safe car to drive.

The S3 has a number of features as standard which contribute to increased safety, and some available as optional extras. Standard features include:

  • 7 Airbags – frontal, side chest and side head airbags on each side and a driver knee airbag
  • quattro-AWD system – gives improved traction and stability, making for safer driving particularly in wet weather or other poor driving conditions
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) – automatically brakes to help avoid collisions when it senses pedestrians or vehicles in front
  • Electronic stability control (ESC) – helps avoid collisions by reducing skidding or if losing control by oversteering
  • Adaptive cruise control – maintains a safe distance from the vehicle in front to help prevent collisions
  • Rear-view camera – helps prevent collisions when reversing, as well as assisting in parking.

Optional driver assistance systems that can contribute to safety and reduce the incidence of collisions are also available; these include lane assist (assistance with lane changes and staying in lane when in traffic), and hold assist (preventing the car from rolling when stationary on a hill).

It is worth noting that although the S3 is a small car, its maximum 5 star rating means it is classified as equally safe to drive as larger Audis such as the Q5 (which also has a 5 star rating).

How Fuel Efficient Is the Audi S3?

Although most people don’t buy performance cars for their great fuel economy, fuel consumption is a factor to consider both in terms of the running cost of the car and its environmental impact. The 2020 S3 uses premium unleaded petrol, and is advertised as having a fuel consumption ranging from 6.5 L/100km for the sedan to 6.8 L/100km for the convertible. This is lower than other similar performance vehicles such as the Mercedes AMG A-35 at 7.6 L/100km.

Like its bulkier Q5 cousin, the Audi S3 has the maximum safety rating of 5 out of a possible 5 stars, making it a very safe vehicle to drive

When comparing it to other Audis, the S3 is somewhat thirstier than the Q5 (Audi’s mid-size SUV), which uses 5.8 L/100km, and the A3 2.0 L which uses 6.1 L/100 km.

The carbon dioxide emissions of the S3 are officially 151 grams per kilometre.

Audi S3 Drive Select Modes

The Audi S3 offers a range of Audi Drive Select modes. With Drive Select, you can unlock the full potential of the S3 and fine-tune its performance characteristics.

  • Efficiency Mode: This mode focuses on optimising fuel efficiency without compromising on performance. It adjusts throttle response and transmission shifts for smoother and more economical driving. It can help you save fuel during everyday commuting or long drives.

  • Comfort Mode: Comfort Mode prioritises a smooth and relaxed driving experience. Throttle response and transmission shifts are tuned for comfort, providing a more effortless acceleration. The suspension settings are typically set to absorb road imperfections, ensuring a comfortable ride.

  • Auto Mode: Auto Mode is designed to adapt to various driving conditions in real-time. It automatically adjusts throttle response, transmission shifts, and suspension settings based on factors like road conditions, vehicle speed, and driver behavior. It offers a well-balanced driving experience, providing versatility and adaptability.

  • Dynamic Mode: Dynamic Mode unleashes the sporty side of the Audi S3. It enhances throttle response, making acceleration more immediate and responsive. Transmission shifts become more aggressive, holding onto gears longer for a thrilling driving experience. Steering becomes sharper and more precise, delivering increased feedback and control. Suspension settings are typically stiffer, ensuring improved handling and enhanced cornering capabilities.

  • Individual Mode: In Individual Mode, you have the freedom to customise various parameters according to your preferences. You can adjust settings for throttle response, transmission shifts, steering, and suspension.

Audi S3 Oil

When it comes to choosing the best oil for your 2020 Audi S3, you’ll want to go for a high-quality fully synthetic oil that meets Audi’s specifications. To be sure you’re using the right oil, have a look at your owner’s manual or reach out to an authorised Audi dealer or service centre. They’ll guide you to the perfect oil that will keep your S3 performing at its best. Following the manufacturer’s recommendations ensures your engine stays happy and healthy, giving you a smooth and reliable driving experience every time you hit the road.

Is the Audi S3 Better Than a Golf R?

The Audi S3 and the Volkswagen Golf R are quite similar vehicles in many ways, and you might find yourself torn trying to choose between the two. This is amply reflected in online reviews – some comparisons favour the S3 and others the Golf R. As the S3 is the more expensive one of the two, you would be justified in wondering if it is the better car and if the extra cost is worth it.

The S3 gets from 0-100 km/h in only 4.8 seconds

It’s no secret that Audi is owned by Volkswagen and in fact the S3 and the Golf R (as well as a number of other models) are built on the same MQB platform. They have the identical 2.0 L turbocharged engine so things like torque and horsepower are the same too. The all-wheel-drive system is practically the same in both, the biggest difference being that Audi’s is called “quattro” and VW’s is named “4motion”. They also have the same adaptive chassis control and adaptive cruise control.

However, there are some differences too; obviously the body shape is different. The S3 is larger and has more boot space. The sound systems are not identical either – the S3 has 14 speakers compared to 8 for the Golf R. The instrument panels, although both digital, work differently as well (Audi’s Virtual Cockpit compared to the Golf’s Digital Cockpit).

Ultimately, these two cars are very similar and there are good points to both. So deciding which is better and whether the extra cost of the Audi S3 is justified will very much depend on personal preference. If you are deciding which one to purchase, as well as researching their features, you should take both of them for a test drive to help you decide which suits you best.

A Personal Audi S3 Anecdote

Although I don’t own an Audi S3, writing this article makes me recall an amusing and poignant incident I observed of an Audi S3 and its owner.. (or at least, I assume she was the owner).

I had just arrived at the beach for a day out with my family, when a sparkling, seemingly brand-new black S3 pulled up nearby. The windows were exceptionally tinted so I couldn’t even get a glance of the driver, and I watched curiously to see who the lucky owner might be.

A young lady dressed entirely in black casual wear stepped out. She walked around and opened the rear passenger door, and my jaw dropped to see two huge, pitch-black German shepherds bound out of the car. The massive dogs stood still obediently while the lady closed the door, and she then walked them briskly down in the direction of the beach.

I was still in the car park when the lady returned not too long afterwards; the dogs were now dripping wet and covered in sand, and had obviously been having a great time playing in the water and on the beach. At their owner’s command they lined up, single file, outside the car, and both shook themselves vigorously to get as much sand and water off as possible. I stared at sparkling S3, at the shaggy wet dogs, then back at the Audi. ‘Surely not…’, I mused… ‘You can’t let them back in there…?!’

The young lady opened the rear door, and the almost wolf-like beasts sprang eagerly up and into the rear of the car. Moments later the black sports sedan was on its way, leaving me musing about the relationship between people, their fur-babies and expensive cars. Maybe I’m just extra careful?

Disclaimer: Information in this article is general in nature and current at the time of publication, and no warranty is offered as to its accuracy or completeness.

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