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Audi S3: Buying guide and review (2006-2012)

Audi S3: Buying guide and review (2006-2012) Classic and Performance Car
Audi S3 Audi S3 Audi S3 Audi S3 Audi S3 Audi S3
The Audi S3 has always been the default choice for drivers who need a relatively understated performance car, with a bit of extra style. Not just a warmed-over A3 with silver door mirrors, the original S3 featured bespoke transmission and wider wheelarches, as well as significantly more punch. The second generation S3 continued this trend, and with 261bhp on tap it was the most powerful A3-based model available, until the arrival of the much more expensive RS3 in 2011. 
 
With the usual well-specced and high quality interior and four wheel drive, the S3 was one of the quickest and most capable point-to-point cars you could buy at the time, especially when the conditions start to get slippery. Four-wheel drive competition was mostly limited to another Volkswagen group offering, the Golf Mk5 R32, which despite its characterful engine could not match the sophistication and speed of the S3. 
 
The evolutionary nature of Audi’s model range means that the S3 still looks fresh today, and well cared for examples can provide many more years of performance motoring at a fraction of the outlay of a new model.
 
Which one to buy?
 
Initially only available in three-door manual guise, the S3 had a number of running gear and trim options to set it apart from the run of the mill A3. At £ 27,000, the price was possibly the biggest differentiator, but for this you got sports suspension (with revised spring and damper settings), unique 18-inch alloys and of course quattro four-wheel drive. When combined with its 261bhp four-cylinder turbo engine, it was blessed with blistering acceleration off the line. 
 
2008 saw the introduction of a mild facelift, with the S3 now being made available in a more practical five-door Sportback body style. The automatic S-tronic gearbox became an option, and is a good choice if your commute includes a lot of stop start driving.
 
As a second hand purchase the combination of the Sportback body style and S-tronic gearbox makes for a great daily driver, providing practicality and unflustered performance in a great package. Fuel consumption and acceleration are also slightly better than the manual models.
 
Performance and specs

Engine 1984cc, 16-valve DOHC turbocharged in-line four-cylinder 
Power 261bhp @ 6000rpm 
Torque 258lb.ft torque @ 2500-5000rpm
Top speed 155mph (limited)
0-60mph 5.5 seconds 
Fuel consumption 31mpg 
Gearbox Six-speed manual/S-Tronic
 
Dimensions and weight
 
Wheelbase 2578mm
Length 4214mm
Width 1765mm
Height 1399mm
Weight 1455kg
 
Common problems
 
• Parts are still widely available, while many specialists can carry out the majority of servicing and maintenance, which helps to avoid paying main dealer prices.

• Radiators can sprout leaks over time, so check for any corrosion or low water levels around the core and pipes. Coolant expansion tanks can also be troublesome.

• Air conditioning compressors have been known to fail, and replacements can be sourced from specialists for a fraction of OEM prices.

• Hesitation in S-tronic gear changes could require an ECU reflash or in some cases a mechatronic replacement unit.

• Ignition coils on early cars can fail, however this issue should not be a concern on cars built after 2006.

• Clutch and flywheel failures are not uncommon and some cars would have had repairs carried out under the original warranty. Check the history of your potential purchase to find out whether it was one of the affected cars.

• The six-speed manual can develop a stiff action in between the first two gears. Fluid replacement can resolve the issue, but if not the synchromesh rings will need to be replaced. Early 2006-2007 S3 manual gearboxes can expire due to an issue caused by planetary gear failure. Although generally resolved by now, watch out for very low mileage cars which might still fail.

• Engine chipping is very common, and while it is a relatively inexpensive way to liberate more power from the engine, it can also cause reliability issues and reduce engine component lifespans. Ideally it is best to source unmodified cars.
 
Model history
 
2006: Second Generation S3 launched with 265bhp 2.0 litre engine. Initially available in three-door body style and six-speed manual transmission
2008: Facelift carried out on entire model range. Full length front grille and daytime running lights now standard. Five-door Sportback body shape introduced. S-Tronic gearbox becomes an option
2012: Last year of production for second generation S3
 
Owners clubs, forums and websites
 
• www.s3oc.com/forums
• www.audi-sport.net
• www.audiownersclub.com
• www.audis3.org
 
Summary and prices
 
If you’re not scared of high mileages, then the early 2006-2007 S3s start at £8000. They offer a lot of car for the money, provided they have a solid service history and no signs of abuse. The sweet spot in the range is found around the £12,000 mark. For this you can get a face-lifted 2008 car with far fewer miles. It’s worth stretching the budget to the Sportback and S-tronic if you have a family and intend to use it for the daily commute. 
 
If you would like to go for something even newer, then the last of the line 2012 models can be found for around £20,000. The second generation S3 remains a great, family sports car which continues to offer a great mix of performance and practicality.
 
Words: John Tallodi
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Last updated: 11th Dec 2015
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Audi S3 cars for sale

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Audi S3
5495 34950 GBP
  • Audi S3

    £19,841 £19,841

    Variant name:Hatchback S3 ,Derivative:S3 ,Variant: 2.0 T FSI quattro 300 PS Audi A3 S3 TFSI Quattro 3dr

    • Year: 2014
    • Mileage: 50222 mi
    • Engine size: 2
    For sale
    Lookers Group -Ayr Audi
    0844 947 3626 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • Audi S3

    £12,850 £12,850

    2009/59 Audi S3 2.0 S-Tronic TFSI Quattro 3 door + Bose + Sat Nav + F/S/H Regrettably selling my fantastic Audi S3 Quattro. I searched for ages when buying this car to find the best condition, best spec car I could without star ship mileage, so this has the quick changing S-Tronic DSG gearbox, black heated leather with Sat Nav and the upgraded Bose sound system. A fantastic colour combination with the Ice Silver metallic paint. The interior is in great condition, having never been smoked in or transported pets. The heated leather seats provide brilliant support and a spot on driving position with a height and reach adjustable steering wheel. In car entertainment is provided by the Audi Navigation Plus system, Multiplayer CD and Bose speaker system. Fantastic sound quality. This combines Bluetooth integration for your phone, an Aux-in connectivity and 2 SD card slots. I have 2 x 32gb sd cards which is more than enough music, but there is a 6 cd multichanger in the glovebox too. The sat-nav is running a 2015 disc with full postcode look up on. The car comes with:- 2 operational keys MOT until Sept 2017 Goodyear Eagle F1 Assymetric 2 tyres all round on genuine Audi 18 inch S3 alloys Space saver spare wheel Comprehensive service history, car serviced at:- 8249 15910 28339 38524 45114 48593 (cam belt and water pump replaced) 51585 (by dealer I purchased from) 58730 62676 Always premium oil, genuine Audi parts and Premium fuel used. I've loved owning this car and always look after it, making sure to avoid car park dents and dings, touching up the inevitable stone chips etc.

    • Year: 2009
    • Mileage: 68000 mi
    • Engine size: 2
    For sale
    Drew Buckley
  • 2008 Audi S3 Quattro 5DR Sportback

    POA POA

    FULL SERVICE HISTORY+ TIMING BELT AND WATER PUMP SERVICE DONE + MILLTEK EXHAUST SYSTEM + UPGRADED CROSS DRILLED AND GROOVED DISKS ALL AROUND + UPGRADED KONI SUSPENSION, + TWO TONE LEATHER INTERIOR + ROOF RAILS + HEATED LEATHER INTERIOR, BOSE SOUND SYSTEM, 18" ALLOYS, Air conditioning, Alloy wheels, Computer, Electric mirrors, Electric windows, Electric Seats, Driver airbag, Passenger airbag, Side airbags, MPG Indicator, Vanity Mirror Lights, Chrome Door Handles, Multi function steering wheel, Steering Mounted Audio Control, Front Leather Armrest With Storage, Rear Leather Armrest, Trip computer, Service indicator, Remote central locking, Foglights

    For sale
  • 2013 Audi S3 Sportback Quattro 5dr

    POA POA

    Estoril Blue With Parade design Red Nappa Sports Seats. Fantastic Spec Inc: 3D inlays, Technology Pack, MMI HDD Navigation With Bluetooth Interface, Parade Red Design Pack, Electric Lumbar For Front Seat, 3D Design Inlays, Upgrade Bang & Oulfsen Sound System With DAB Radio, I-Pod and USB Connection, Audi Active Lane and Side Assist, Audi Pre Sense, Driver Assistance Pack, Front and Rear Parking Sensors, High Beam Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure, Auto Dim Rear View Mirror With Light and Rain Sensor, Interior Light Pack, Bright Roof Rails, Privacy Glass. Remainder Of Manufacture Warranty and Service Pack

    For sale
  • 2014 Audi S3 Sportback Quattro 5dr

    POA POA

    Sepang Blue Pearl Effect with Black Leather, Technology Package including Navigation and Bluetooth Telephone Preparation, Panoramic Glass Sunroof, Bang and Olufsen Sound System, Comfort Package and Black Styling Package. All usual S3 Refinements including Bi-Xenon Headlamps, DAB Radio with Bluetooth Audio Streaming, 18" Alloys Wheels, Park Distance Control, Multi Function Steering Wheel. 1 Owner from NEW.

    For sale
  • Audi S3 ON SALE NOW

    £25,950 £25,950

    ONE owner Audi S3 presented in Brilliant Black comes with the following specification; Fine Black Nappa leather, multi-function flat bottom leather steering wheel, heated seats, dual zone climate control, satellite navigation, Bluetooth phone connectivity with streaming, drive select, centre armrest, black styling package, privacy glass, cruise control, automatic Xenon headlights, rain sensor, electric heated mirrors, rear park assist and 18" double spoke alloy wheels. Part exchange welcome, competitive finance available. Viewings welcome by appointment only. Body: Hatchback Transmission: Automatic Mileage: 13,000 Fuel Type: Petrol Registered: 2015 (65) Doors: 3 Engine Size: 2.0 Finished in: Brilliant Black

    • Year: 2015
    • Mileage: 13000 mi
    For sale
  • Audi S3

    £27,995 £27,995

    4x4 IBIS WHITE + SUPER SPORT QUILTED LEATHER INTERIOR + HEATED SEATS + BIG SAT NAV + BLUETOOTH + PANORAMIC Glass Sunroof + BLACK OPTIC PACK + USB and I-Pod Connection, Digital DAB Radio, Multifunction Sports Steering Wheel With Paddleshift Gear Change, Cruise Control, Rear Parking Sensors Interior Light Pack, Privacy Glass, Climate, A/C, Computer, Auto Xenon Headlights, satalite navigation, Auto Dim Rear View Mirror With Rain Sensor Wipers. Still Under Manufacture Warranty.

    • Mileage: 25800 mi
    • Engine size: 1984
    For sale
  • Audi S3

    £22,995 £22,995

    18'' S-Line Alloys, Satellite Navigation, Heated Seats, Technology Package , Climate Control, Dual Climate Zones, Sports Seats, Heated Mirrors, Xenon Headlamps, Drive Select, CD Player, Juke Box, SD Card Reader , Bluetooth, Bluetooth Audio, iPod Connectivity, Steering Wheel Audio Controls, Multi-function Steering Wheel, Start Stop, Electric Handbrake, Electric Mirrors, Electric Windows, Traction Control, Computer, Aluminium Roof Rails, Audi Sound System , ABS, Isofix, Multiple Airbags, Anti-Theft System, Remote Central Locking, Folding Rear Seats, 4x4, Full service history

    • Mileage: 25000 mi
    • Engine size: 1984
    For sale
  • Audi S3

    £15,395 £15,395

    Price Includes OAKWOODS TOTAL CARE See Main Advert, Cambelt Changed, Black Styling Package Two Tone Silk Nappa Leather, Privacy Glass (Laminated), Bi-Xenon Headlights with LED Daytime Running Light, Rain & Light Sensors, Audi 3 Spoked Leather Sport Multi Function Wheel, Heated Seats, Sports Seats, CD Player, iPod Connectivity, Full Set of Keys, Brushed Aluminium Interior Trim, Parking Sensors, Dual Climate Zones, Isofix, Multiple Airbags, Electric Mirrors, Electric Windows, Audi Concert Radio, Aux In, Rear Spoiler, Rear Wash/wipe, UK Specification, UK Supplied, 4x4, Service history SERVICE AND MOT RECORD..10th March 2011 - Audi Annual Service - Sheffield Audi - 11,237 Miles..11th February 2012 - Audi Annual Service - Sheffield Audi - 17,768 Miles..18th December 2012 - VOSA MOT Test - 25,224 Miles..1st March 2013 - Audi Annual Service - Sheffield Audi - 26,315 Miles..9th December 2013 - VOSA MOT Test - 29,018 Miles..18th April 2015 - Annual Service + VOSA MOT Test - Independent Garage, Huntingdon - 35,864 Miles..29th September 2015 - Annual Service + NEW Cam Belt + New Water Pump - Independent Garage, Crowborough - 36,038 Miles..24th Novemebr 2015 - New Audi MAF Sensor + Four New Coil Packs - Independent Garage, Maidstone - 37,212 Miles..30th June 2016 - Annual Service - Independent Garage, Maidstone - 44,815 Miles..18th November 2016 - New CLUTCH + NEW Multi Pack FLYWHEEL + New Brembo Brake Pads + 2 New Dunlop Tyres - Independent Garage, Maidstone..17th December 2016 - Rear Differential Service + New Rear Spring + New Rear Wheel Bearing - Independent Garage, Maidstone....****OAKWOODS TOTAL CARE PACKAGE****..Our WEBSITE Price INCLUDES our TOTAL CARE PACKAGE which comprises of the following items:..NEW VOSA MOT + Comprehensive Pre Sale Vehicle INSPECTION + Oil Service..24 Month NATIONAL, UNLIMITED MILEAGE, Premier PLUS Warranty, UNLIMITED CLAIMS with NO EXCESS, 2,000 pounds Per Claim Limit, Redeemable at ANY VAT registered Garage, 60 days EUROPEAN Cover..Official HPI Check + Quarter tank of FUEL + PROFESSIONAL Vehicle Valet (Interior and Exterior)....****

    • Mileage: 49500 mi
    • Engine size: 1984
    For sale
  • Audi S3 ON SALE NOW

    £26,450 £26,450

    ONE owner Audi S3 presented in Sepang Blue comes with the following specification; Fine Black Nappa leather interior, heated seats, three spoke multi-function flat bottom steering wheel, dual zone climate control, satellite navigation, Bluetooth phone connectivity, DAB digital radio with CD, Audi Drive Select, comfort pack, privacy glass, cruise control, rain sensor, electric heated mirrors, automatic Xenon headlights, park assist and 18" twin spoke star alloy wheels. Part exchange welcome, competitive finance available. Viewings welcome by appointment only. Body: Hatchback Transmission: Manual Mileage: 4,000 Fuel Type: Petrol Registered: 2016 (16) Doors: 3 Engine Size: 2.0 Finished in: Sepang Blue

    • Year: 2016
    • Mileage: 4000 mi
    For sale
  • AUDI S3

    £5,495 £5,495

    2000, Finished in rare santorin blue with full light leather interior, a totally original unmolested S3 with three former keepers from new, 78,000 miles with full service history, lots of service bills and every old M.O.T, just had a BRAND NEW TURBO, TYRES, CAMBELT, WATER PUMP AND AUXILIARY BELT SERVICE, ONE YEARS M.O.T recent wheel refurb, fully loaded car with a bluetooth parrot. This car is totally stock with no modifications in very good condition and comes with both its keys and its original full book pack. Please call for further details, part exchange welcome.

    • Year: 2000
    For sale
  • 2011 Audi S3 Tfsi Quattro S Line Black Edition 3dr

    POA POA

    FULL SERVICE HISTORY + SPRINT BLUE + SAT NAV + CRUISE CONTROL + FULL LEATHER INTERIOR + HEATED SEATS + BOSE SOUND SYSTEM + CAT D WAS DAMAGED NOW FULLY REPAIRED + RS3 FRONT GRILL + PIANO BLACK INLAYS, Rotor Design Alloy Wheels in Titanium Finish, CD Player with MP3 File Compatibility, AUX - IN Socket, Drivers Information System (DIS), Electric Front and Rear Windows, Privacy Glass, Thatcham Category 1 Alarm,

    For sale
  • 2015 Audi S3 Sportback Quattro 5dr

    POA POA

    DUE IN 16TH JULY.....2015 / 15 REG + FACTORY NARDO GREY + SAT NAV PRO + SUPER SPORT SEATS + PAN ROOF + BLACK OPTIC PACK + ROOF RAILS + PRIVACY GLASS + HEATED SEATS, Multifunction Sports Steering Wheel With Paddleshift Gear Change, Cruise Control, Rear Parking Sensors Interior Light Pack, Privacy Glass, Climate, A/C, Computer, Auto Xenon Headlights, TECH PACK, Auto Dim Rear View Mirror With Rain Sensor Wipers. Still Under Manufacture Warranty

    For sale
  • 2014 Audi S3 Quattro 3dr

    POA POA

    MODIFIED...REVO STAGE 1 + MILLTEK DOWNPIPE + SCORPION EXHAUST SYSTEM + SUPER SPORT SEATS + SAT NAV PRO + HEATED SEATS + UPGRADED LOWERED SUSPENSION, 19" REVO ALLOYS + QUATTRO GRILL + BLACK STYLING PACK + UPGRADED FRONT SPOILER + CRUISE CONTROL + STUNNING CAR

    For sale
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