In-depth reviews

Audi S3 (2013 - 2020) review - Interior, design and technology

This is no stripped-out hot hatch; the S3 delivers a real premium feel and has the toys to match

The Audi S3 is a great hot hatch option if you’re not looking to attract attention. The styling tweaks over lesser A3s are subtle, but are easily identified by Audi fans. They include silver wing mirrors, quad exhausts, slightly more aggressive bodywork than the A3 S line and some S3 badges dotted around the interior and exterior. Xenon headlamps and LED daytime running lights also set the S3 apart, and we think the car looks purposeful and poised on its standard 18-inch alloy wheels. You can always help the S3 to stand out by choosing a vivid colour, but on the other hand you can go for a Black Edition model which replaces all the satin silver trim with a gloss black finish instead.

As with the standard A3, the S3 is built on the VW Group’s latest modular MQB platform, so the car shares key engineering elements with models including the SEAT Leon, Volkswagen Golf and Passat, and Audi’s own TT – with more to come. Yet this group cost-saving strategy is certainly not apparent in the product.

The interior has always been one of the biggest selling points of the regular A3. It combines liberal use of top-quality plastics with a very cohesive and premium design, backed up by impeccable build quality and highly tactile switchgear.

The S3 only adds to this, creating an extra sense of occasion with its quilted Nappa leather wingback sports seats, a flat-bottomed S3 steering wheel with multifunction controls, and a turbo boost gauge in the rev counter. The instrument dials all have grey faces and white pointers, exclusive to the S3, and you also get a set of racing car-style lightweight alloy pedals to remind you of the car’s potential.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

The S3 is available with Audi’s MMI Navigation, including MMI touch. This allows you to ‘write’ characters on the top surface of the control wheel with your finger – useful for entering postcodes and phone numbers.

You can also enable Audi connect to hook the car up to the Internet, and the seven-inch flat screen will display user-tailored services from social media to mapping and contacts. Voice recognition allows you to send text messages on the move without having to touch your smartphone, too.

The high-quality DAB sound system can be further upgraded to Bang and Olufsen spec, which includes subwoofers mounted in the doors.

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