Intro to the Audi S3 buying guide:
Fontain has been Specialising in Audi since 1995, sharing the information we learn along the way. We have put this series of written and video buyers guides together, as we believe Buying carefully helps you get the best value car when buying.
Being an informed buyer helps avoid unexpected costs and plan future maintenance!
For the full video form of this buyers guide, check out our YouTube channel or Facebook page. @fontainmotors.
Intro to the Audi S3:
This is going to be another one of our buying guide blogs. Today we are going to be talking about the third generation, 8V S3. If you have not already read our B8 RS4 blog, there will be a link in the description below.
But today we are going to be talking about our best selling car and Audi’s best selling ‘S’ model, the 2013 to 2020 Audi S3. If you are thinking about buying one of these cars, or in the market, this should be some really useful information for you.
Audi launched the 3rd generation of S3, known as 8V car, in 2013. It was an all-new design on the MQB chassis and didn’t carry over any components from the previous-generation S3. It was available in a 3 door hatchback, a 5 door hatchback, like the car behind me, known as a sport back, as well as the saloon, slightly later on, and also a 2 door convertible.
All of the cars use a 2-litre turbo EA Triple 8 engine, with at least 300 horsepower, all of the cars have Haldex Quattro four-wheel drive. They were available up until the end of 2017 with a 6-speed manual gearbox and until the end of 2016 with a 6-speed S-Tronic, or DSG automatic, that was replaced at the facelift with a 7-speed item.
Early cars all have 300 horsepower, from the facelift they went up to 310 and then at the end of 2018, with some changes to emissions laws and WLTP, they gained a GPF in the exhaust and power went down slightly to 300 horsepower.
Equipment on the Audi S3:
What was standard and what was a cost extra?
Being an Audi there is, of course, quite a lot on the options list and not all that much in terms of standard equipment, When the cars launched in 2013, you did get a few bits and pieces thrown in as part of the basic price. All cars got a leather interior, all cars got heated seats and xenon headlamps. But that was about the lot in terms of interesting features, everything else was an optional extra.
It improved very very slightly at the facelift, which in the UK was at the end of 2016, on a 66 plate, Audi added to the standard equipment LED headlamps, satellite navigation, a better MMI screen and smartphone interface, that let you use either Apple Car Play or Android Auto. In terms of adding cost extras to the car, there was quite a lot on the list and a few features that are considered really really desirable on the used car market. The one everybody wants? Satellite navigation. Cars before the facelift, no sat-nav as standard. You could add MMI Satellite navigation, some people call this SD card sat nav. It’s a pretty simple system uses the standard screen, works absolutely fine and Audi releases updates every year. It wasn’t too expensive new, can be added later on to a car that doesn’t have it, that works just fine.
The second option, satellite navigation plus. That’s the hard-drive-based system. A little bit faster in operation and gives you a bigger screen in the dashboard as well. Little bit higher resolution, a little bit sharper.
Probably then, the most desirable option, and one people really really hunt out, does make a tangible difference to used values, is the panoramic glass sunroof, that’s fitted to the car behind me, pretty easy to see. Covers about the first 50% of the roof, it is a tilt and slide sunroof and lets lots of extra light into the cabin. Totally worth having.
Bang and Olufsen speaker upgrade, also a lot of people out there are looking for that. Much much better than the standard set-up and talking of speakers, the standard set-up, if all you want to do is listen to the radio, it’s fine, it does the job. There was a middle upgrade, known as Audi Sound System, it added a couple more speakers and a subwoofer and then Bang and Olufsen were on top of that.
Interior / Exterior Colours:
Whilst you were buying options for your interior, you could replace the standard A3 sports seats, with Audi’s supersport seats, fitted to a lot of the other S and RS cars and they included quilted leather as well. All S3s as standard, with the exception of saloons and convertibles, got 18inch wheels. There were a couple to pick from, there was no cost difference or you could even have one of the 18s from the normal A3 range. All of the wheels were diamond cut, you simply chose the one you wanted new. 19s were available as an option on the hatchback cars. That always came with magnetic ride control, so if you see a car that has 19 in wheels as standard, that came with mag ride on an S3 and as I say if you were buying the saloon or the convertible, you did get 19-inch wheels as standard that included mag ride.
There were quite a few colours available on an S3, and without going into mega detail and custom ordering through Audi exclusive, people generally look out for your blacks, greys and blues, as suits your own personal taste. Really really popular colours on S3s, Ara blue, is a real stand out one that people look for. Nardo grey is also extremely popular right now, but you can’t go far wrong, with any of the traditional Audi S colours, dark greys, dark blues and blacks.
Interior colours were a little bit more limited. Before the facelift, almost all of the colours had a black interior. It’s anthracite, it is a dark grey really. You could also have silver leather, sort of a creamy ivory kind of colour. Can look really really good, needs a little bit more taking care of, to keep it looking fantastic, but black made up probably more than 90% of sales.
From the facelift at the end of 2016, Audi introduced a new colour interior, Rota grey, which is like a sort of stone colour. Again can look really really nice as a contrast.
Driving an S3:
In short, S3s make a lot of sense in the UK. It’s not a huge country, it’s not a huge car. It is big enough to be practical, but it is small enough so that on A and B roads, it never feels too big, it never feels too wide and never feels out of place.
The amount of power they offer as well, I think, really really works for this country. They are 300 odd horsepower, ample power to be lots of fun and feel like a fast car, but not so fast that you are being antisocial if you really want to open it up.
Handling as well, really on your side in terms of wet craggy, crumbly roads, leaves, a bit of mud, sand. Quattro four-wheel drive gives you absolutely loads of traction, really whatever the weather decides what it wants to do. The car feels like it is very much on your side, not like it is going to spit you out backwards into a hedge.
They handle really quite nicely, really nice precise-feeling through the steering wheel, very very sure-footed, very very stable. They won’t go sideways unless you really do something very silly, but they are quite good fun cars to push down a B road.
From a more sensible perspective, they are really very easy painless things to live with. Fuel economy is actually pretty good for a performance car. They do ideally like super unleaded fuel, but you won’t do any damage if you just use normal 95 RON. 35 miles per gallon is very very easy, we even had plenty of customers report regularly seeing 40 or a little more on the motorway.
They have a decent size boot, they have back seats that grown-ups actually fit in. Absolutely loads of seat height adjustment, whether you are 5 foot nothing or 6 foot lots. It’s a sensible practical hatchback.
One really nice feature that has proved very popular on the facelift cars is the virtual cockpit. Virtual cockpit replaces the two standard analogue instruments, with a large digital display. It doesn’t give you any particular features you don’t get without having a virtual cockpit, but it is a really nice way of displaying data in front of you.
It is quite widely customisable, you can have any combination you want of instruments. Navigation display, entertainment, telephone, fuel economy, trip computer. Option available on all facelift cars.
So What is good about S3s?
They are popular, and that sounds a strange thing to say, but the nice thing about the cars being so desirable and so popular is that it has meant their residual values are really really strong. If you buy a nice S3 today, run it and enjoy it for a few years and sell it at the end, you get a really decent amount of your money back at sale or part exchange time. Even the earliest 2013 cars, unless they have been damaged or done astronomical mileage, they are still hovering around the mid-teens today.
The running costs for a performance car are pretty sensible, the tyres are a very common size, the brakes are not exotic, service prices are pretty much exactly the same as any other 4 wheel drive A3. Correctly maintained, reliability is actually really good with these cars. There are very few horror stories around, expensive repairs are quite unusual. Even cars with higher mileage, we see them in for service and maintenance work and generally they give the owners very little trouble.
Bad Stuff about the S3?
Let’s be honest, why you are reading this, if you have skipped through to this point, shame on you, go back and read the good bits first.
The list of bad things on S3s is reassuringly short and none of it is particularly painful. The two common mechanical things that an S3 may see at some point in its life, and if you do a little bit of googling on this as well, that they can crop up.
The thermostat housing, if you see that an S3 is a little bit low on coolant or it looks like somebody has been topping it up quite often, or if you see when driving that your low little coolant light is flashing on, the likelihood is that the thermostat housing, which is on the front of the engine block, has started to leak.
It is very very rare for the thermostat to fail or the water pump to fail completely. It does start as a pretty small leak and if it is kept in check and is replaced when you notice the coolant is getting low, there is no reason it will do any damage, it will just need replacing.
The other common item that can go on an S3, or in fact on a lot of Haldex 4 wheel drive cars, is the Haldex pump. The amount of torque the car sends to the rear axle is controlled by a clutch that runs on hydraulic pressure, that hydraulic pressure is generated by a pump and the original pumps weren’t of amazing quality, they can fail prematurely. Fairly easy to tell if one isn’t working. If you accelerate hard, from a standing start and you notice that your traction control light is going mad and trying to hold the car back, the very very likely candidate is the Haldex pump. If you do the same test with the traction control disabled, it will just spin the front wheels.
One other item and this doesn’t apply to all S3s, it’s just really to cars with 19inch wheels and magnetic ride dampers, this most commonly crops up as an item of conversation with saloons, where those were both standard. Knocks from the rear suspension. There have been some complaints particularly when going over speedbumps, the rear suspension gives you a little bit of a bump. Audi quite on, redesigned the top mounts, there are also now redesigned bump stops that make it significantly quieter, although cars with 19inch wheels over sharp bumps and speed humps, it is quite a heavy combination of wheel and tyre, you do get a little bit of noise, but it should not be excessive.
Pretty painless on S3s. It is a chain-driven engine, there is no timing belt to worry about. So no expensive replacement at 80,000 odd miles or whatever some cars can be. The main servicing of the engine, a lot came out of the factory on what Audi call long life or variable servicing, where they go up to 30,000 kilometres, so about 19,000, 20,000 miles between services.
We recommend that most owners with a mix of driving, or even if you want to push it a little bit now and then, do it on a fixed interval. That effectively just means an interim oil change, so car after a year or car after 10,000 miles change the oil, after 2 years, do a full service.
Major service on the S3, and that just ads spark plugs and an air filter, 40,000 miles.
Haldex oil changes, so that’s the oil in the car’s rear differential that has a 3-year interval, regardless of mileage.
Manual gearboxes don’t require oil changes but all of the S-Tronic automatics do. Pre-facelift cars with the six-speed automatic, their interval is 40,000 miles, but there is no time on that; it’s just mileage. And face-lift cars with the 7-speed s-Tronic gearbox have a 75,000-mile interval for oil changes.
If you are wondering what any of these cost? If you visit Fontain.co.uk, press the service button and put in the registration number of your car or even the registration number of an S3 you are thinking about buying, it will give you menu pricing on all of the common service and maintenance items that an S3 needs.
We do all of our service work in house, manufacturer-trained technicians, live to the factory for the latest technical data and diagnostic, your digital service schedule is updated when Fontain service your car and we offer free courtesy vehicles.
If you own an S3, you are buying an S3 or the same if you have a different Volkswagen group car and it needs service, maintenance or repair work, visit Fontain.co.uk, enter the service section and enter your reg number and you can book most common diagnostic maintenance and service work online.
You can also give us a call, you can send us a message through the web email us or DM us.
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