New for 2015The Audi S3 is all-new for the 2015 model year.
Vehicle OverviewThe Audi S3 is a higher-performance variant of the newest small Audi, with a powerful turbocharged engine paired with all-wheel drive and an interior that shows little evidence of cost cutting. The Audi S3 should appeal to buyers who became interested in the late-90s A4/S4, before that model got bigger and more refined.
SummaryThe 2015 Audi S3 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4 that produces 292 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque, which is paired with a six-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. EPA-estimated fuel efficiency is 23/31 mpg city/highway. Despite being based on the “entry-level” Audi, the S3 is the genuine article, with LED headlights, heated leather seats, LED taillights and turn signals, the MMI infotainment system (supports touch and handwriting character entry), Bluetooth with streaming audio, heated power-folding exterior mirrors, and hands-free keyless entry with push button start.
The 2015 Audi S3 received a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA (out of a possible five stars), and is considered a 2015 Top Safety Pick+ by the IIHS (in A3 form).
What We ThinkThe 2015 Audi S3 surprised us with its looks and demeanor, which are a significant improvement over the base A3. In that same Driven review of a 2015 Audi S3 we said, “It reminds you of a petite Audi S4. Details such as the optional 19-inch wheels, an inch lower ride height, purposeful, four-outlet exhaust, and aggressive rocker panels transform the entry-level Audi into a welcome addition to Audi’s S model lineup.”
We also noted, “The standard A3 has a refreshingly simple, almost Scandinavian design aesthetic throughout … The S3 builds on the A3 by adding brushed aluminum trim, sport seats, and a D-shape steering wheel (both with contrast stitching), aluminum pedals, and a new instrument cluster with a turbo boost gauge … It’s clear the S3 is a 100 percent true Audi inside and out. You’ll struggle to find any cost-cutting measures.”
In another Driven review of a 2015 Audi S3 we commented on the exhaust note saying, “The sound is just OK. We goose the throttle in tunnels hoping to get an earful, but the reply is only a grunting, buzzy note.” We speculated that it was perhaps the non-U.S.-spec six-speed manual we sampled was partly to blame. Regarding the six-speed automatic we commented that “S tronic holds the gears longer, and the engine sounds better, thanks to the flaps in the quad exhaust system that open at a higher load.” We wished the steering was more communicative, as the electric assist is rather “dead,” but couldn’t fault “the S3’s pace or its ability to laugh off changing weather conditions.”
- Baby S4 styling
- Confidence-inspiring suspension remains planted in all weather
- High-quality interior despite being based on the entry-level model
You Won’t Like
- Volkswagen Golf offers same powertrain with a manual for about $5,000 less
- Uncommunicative power steering
Exhaust note not particularly soul-stirring
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