Photography and video by: ©2016 Toni Avery
Two-seat, tiny sports cars aren’t for everyone. That’s where four-door, spacious sports sedans come into play. It seems like an endless battle between the four most significant German players in this market, while only three really produce ones the average person can afford. The 2016 Audi S3 is a great example of how you don’t need to restrict the space behind you to have fun while driving.
This S3 is equipped with a 2.0 L turbocharged 4 cylinder engine producing 292 HP and 280 lb-ft of torque mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission.
The Audi S3 provides ideal handling characteristics for a fun daily driver and weekend canyon carver. The ride is smooth on most road surfaces, yet it isn’t numb, allowing you to feel imperfections in the road without knocking your teeth out. Steering is quite responsive and so is throttle response, while these characteristics are heightened in Dynamic Mode. It’s my opinion that if you want to get the most out of your S3, stick to Dynamic Mode and manual shifting.
The transmission, with only six forward speeds, is pretty quick when in manual shifting. While in automatic shifting, it really depends on what drive mode you are in as to when the transmission shift points occur. If you’re the quiet type, keep it in Comfort for low range gear changes. Dynamic will hold gear changes much higher in the range and can get loud (not complaining).
The boost gauge adds to the sporty nature of the car. I caught myself seeing how much boost I could get in various driving scenarios. But the boost gauge isn’t just for show, the car is actually pretty quick. Whether you choose manual or automatic shifting, it does have more than enough pep to keep you happy.
There are four different drives modes to choose from in the S3. There’s Comfort Mode that is perfect for long trips that adds optimized steering and a closer shift pattern to help provide a more comfortable drive. I used this mode on my long two-hour drive and the ride was smooth with minimal exhaust noise.
Dynamic Mode provides tighter steering, even more precise throttle response and gear changes happen much higher in the rev range allowing for a more aggressive performance focused feel. It also sounds as though the exhaust valve opens up in this mode, making it my favorite by far.
Auto Mode provides the best of both worlds combining both comfort and performance into an ideal daily driving setting.
Individual Mode gives the driver the ability to select their steering, throttle and transmission upshift preference. For example you can combine Comfort, Dynamic and Auto by choosing your preferred setting from each into your very own custom drive mode.
Of all the cars I’ve tested to date, only two really make me melt in my seat in terms of exhaust noise. And for a car to come close isn’t easy, but when I got into the S3 and pressed hard on the accelerator (in Dynamic Mode) allowing it to shift at just the right point, I heard it, that awesome blurp of the exhaust that sounds very similar yet not nearly as loud as the Alfa Romeo 4C (example heard in the below video review). This sound is easily associated with the turbocharger. Like Alfa Romeo, it’s refreshing when other OEMs are willing to let that turbo sound flow freely, rather than muffling it.
The exterior of the S3 features standard five-spoke wheels, optional red brake calipers, S3 specific grille, trunk lip spoiler, aluminum-optic mirror housings, front and rear diffuser blades, and quad exhaust tips with finishers. The car is finished in Misano Red Pearl Effect.
I’ve always been a fan of the aggressive front and stylish rear of all S model Audi cars. The larger front grille lets you know automatically that it’s an S and the design of the rear tail lights and front headlights are really sharp. It’s an overall great looking car with modern, high-performance design cues.
Inside the S3 is an all black interior with the optional Technology Package and optional S Sport seats.
I spoke in-depth about the impressive tech features inside the S3 in my video review. The unit that houses the navigation and other features is a bit complex to learn for someone just entering the high-end tech car market, but it’s worth learning.
The MMI Touch feature is by far my favorite, making inputting addresses or searching names in your phonebook easy. It works just like a notepad, where you write each letter or number with your finger, rather than scrolling through long menus. While inputting an address (or other items) can still be done by scrolling through menus.
While the entire inside of the car is black, the optional S Sport seats elevate the look and feel of the interior to a car with a much higher price tag. Every surface is covered with either leather or a soft touch material. The seats are not only beautiful but also very comfortable even for a several hour-long drive. The inside is quiet and provides plenty of passenger and cargo space.
I always love to discover cars that exceed my expectations. The 2016 Audi S3 is no exception. With its stylish exterior, impressive tech and nicely appointed interior, the S3 is a great car for those demanding that sports car experience with all the comfort of a luxury sedan.
2016 Audi S3 Sedan 2.0T quattro S tronic
Base Price: $42,500
Misano Red pearl effect paint, S3 Technology Package (CD/DVD player w/ HD radio,
MMI Navigation w/ voice control, MMI touch, Audi connect w/ online services 6 months,
Audi side assist), S Sport seat package, Red brake calipers
Price with Options: $47,525
Destination Charge: $925
Total Price: $48,450
Fuel Economy: 23 City, 31 Highway, 26 Combined
GirlsDriveFastToo gives the 2016 Audi S3 Sedan 2.0T quattro S tronic an overall rating of (out of 5 total):