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

Audi S3: Buying guide and review (2006-2012) Classic and Performance Car
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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
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  • Audi S3 Sportback

    £29,500 £29,500

    Variant name:Sportback S3 ,Derivative:S3 ,Variant: 2.0 T FSI quattro 300 PS S Tronic Audi A3 S3 TFSI Quattro 5dr S Tronic [Nav]

    • Year: 2016
    • Mileage: 11500 mi
    • Engine size: 2
    For sale
    Lookers Group -Edinburgh Audi
    0844 947 3636 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • 2014 Audi S3 Sportback Quattro 5dr

    POA POA

    FULL AUDI SERVICE HISTORY, SEPANG BLUE EXCLUSIVE + SUPER SPORT QUILTED LEATHER INTERIOR + SAT NAV + REVERSE CAMERA + Bluetooth + PANORAMIC Glass Sunroof + Upgrade BANG & OULFSEN Sound System + INTERIOR LIGHT PACK, USB and I-Pod Connection, Digital DAB Radio, OPTIC PACK, 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

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  • Audi S3

    £14,995 £14,995

    4x4 Ibis White with Black & White Two Tone Silk Nappa Leather Interior. Specification includes Technology Pack with Satellite Navigation Plus, SD Card Reader, Bluetooth Phone Preparation, Audi Music Interface, Factory Privacy Glass, Parking Sensors, Xenon Plus Headlamps with LED Daytime Running Lights, Heated Front Seats, Flat Bottom Multi Function Steering Wheel, Climate Control, 6 Speed Gearbox, 18'' Alloy Wheels in Black. 2 Keys. Cambelt Changed at 51,862 miles. Last Serviced at 60k inc Rear Brake pads, Brake Fluid Change and both Rear Coil Springs replaced. Car is in excellent condition, runs and drives beautifully. Call us to discuss delivery anywhere in the UK on this car. Have a look at our testimonials on our website to read more about us and the services we can offer our clients. Video walk around of this car available. 'Like' our page on Facebook for stock updates. This vehicle is HPI Checked and supplied with 12 Months AA Roadside Assistance. WarrantyWise Warranties Available for 6,12,24 or 36 Months. UK Nationwide Delivery Available. Finance Available - We have a range of lenders for all circumstances - CHALLENGE US TO BEAT YOUR FINANCE QUOTES. Part Exchange Considered. View our website - WWW.GEORGEKINGSLEY.CO.UK - Prestige & Performance Specialist

    • Mileage: 64049 mi
    • Engine size: 1984
    For sale
  • Audi S3

    £9,995 £9,995

    4x4 Brilliant Black S3 Quattro with Black Leather Interior. Matt Black 18'' Alloy Wheels with matching tyres all round. Pioneer Apple Car Play radio with Bluetooth & Audio Streaming (Original Audi Stereo available instead). Heated Front Seats. Flat Bottom Multi Function Steering Wheel. Quattro Four Wheel Drive. Isofix Child Seat Anchor Points. Factory Audi Bluetooth Phone Preparation. Dual Zone Climate Control. Front Centre Armrest. Ram Air Induction Air Filter. Xenon Headlights. Red Calipers. Window Deflectors. Privacy Glass. Trip Computer. Full Service History with services recorded at 17k, 27k, 31k (cambelt), 41k, 55k, 69k (inc Haldex service), (all Audi Services) & 81k in February. (independent). Bookpack with all manuals, but just one key. Call us to discuss delivery anywhere in the UK on this car. Have a look at our testimonials on our website to read more about us and the services we can offer our clients. Video walk around of this car available. 'Like' our page on Facebook for stock updates. This vehicle is HPI Checked and supplied with 12 Months AA Roadside Assistance. WarrantyWise Warranties Available for 6,12,24 or 36 Months. UK Nationwide Delivery Available. Finance Available - We have a range of lenders for all circumstances - CHALLENGE US TO BEAT YOUR FINANCE QUOTES. Part Exchange Considered. View our website - WWW.GEORGEKINGSLEY.CO.UK - Prestige & Performance Specialist

    • Mileage: 87514 mi
    • Engine size: 1984
    For sale
  • AUDI S3 S3 TFSI QUATTRO 2011

    £14,995 £14,995

    Beautiful example throughout, Supplied with a full history, Timing belt and water pump done recently at 44k, New discs and pads just fitted and alloy wheel refurbishment, Pirelli P Zero tyres, Sat NAv, Audi MMI, Bluetooth etc, Media Connect, Privacy Glass, Cruise control, MOT March 18, RAC warranty, Perfect example, drives superb

    • Mileage: 47000 mi
    • Engine size: 1.984
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  • 2016 Audi S3 Sportback Quattro 5dr

    POA POA

    PAN ROOF + SUPERSPORT SEATS + VIRTUAL COCKPIT + TECHNOLOGY PACK HIGH + BANG & OLUFSEN SOUND SYSTEM + SAT NAV HIGH + DAB + RED CALLIPERS + COMFORT AND SOUND PACKAGE + HEATED SEATS + INTERIOR LIGHT PACK + FRONT AND REAR PDC + AUDI PHONE BOX WITH WIRELESS CHARGING + CRUISE CONTROL + PRIVACY GLASS + AUDI DRIVE SELECT + JUST BEEN SERVICED BY AUDI + ALL USUAL AUDI S3 REFINEMENTS

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  • Audi S3

    £22,500 £22,500

    128 Point AA Inspection Report Available, AA Breakdown Cover Included, Finance Available, AA Inspected, Climate Control, Colour SatNav, Full Leather, iPod Connectivity, Powered Folding Mirrors, Xenon Headlamps, Anti-Theft System, Locking Wheel Nuts, Remote Central Locking, Front Centre Armrest, Head Restraints, Heated Seats, Height Adjustable Seat, Rear Headrests, Adjustable Steering Column, Power Steering, Stability Control, Traction Control, Trip Computer, ABS, Isofix, Multiple Airbags, Auto Lighting, Metallic Paintwork, Rear Wash/wipe, Electric Front Windows, Electric Mirrors, Steering Wheel Audio Controls, Stereo, DAB Radio, Low Mileage, Bluetooth, 4x4

    • Mileage: 18000 mi
    • Engine size: 1984
    For sale
  • AUDI S3 1.8t 225 2003

    £4,295 £4,295

    2003 AUDI S3 1.8T 225 QUATTRO;;12 MONTHS MOT FOR NEW OWNER;;ONLY 83K MILES;;FULL SERVICE HISTORY;;COMPLETELY STANDARD UN MOLESTED MODEL;;MUST BE SEEN;;FUTURE CLASSIC;;12 months MOT, Full service history, Good bodywork, Black Full leather interior - Good Condition, Tyre condition Good, Four wheel-drive, Climate Control, In Car Entertainment (Radio/CD), Upholstery Leather, Computer (Driver Information System), Seats Electric (Driver/Passenger), Alloy Wheels (17in), Alarm, Electric Windows (Front). 5 seats, Grey, GBP 4,295;;Autoland​ look to offer great customer service to go along with great cars at great prices. All our cars are competitively priced and we are constantly price matching competitors. ;;Vehicles priced from GBP 1000 to GBP 30,000 ;;All vehicles hpi checked ;;32 point inspection carried out on vehicles ;;All vehicles come with 30 day warranty for complete peace of mind** ;;Part exchange welcome ;;Autoland car sales is based on the outskirts of Edinburgh In the heart of the Luxury Motor Village. We are based 5 mins from Edinburgh Airport and 20 mins from Haymarket Train station. ​ ;;Viewings can be arranged out with these times by arranging an appointment...... ;;Extended warranties are available at additional cost 3,6,12 and 24 months starting from only GBP 49..... ;;CALL US TODAY FOR COMPETITIVE FINANCE RATES....... ;;ALL MAJOR DEBIT AND CREDIT CARDS ACCEPTED FOR A SMALL FEE ;;CHECK OUR WEBSITE FOR OTHER CARS ;;;OPENING HOURS : ;;TUE TO FRI 10.30am til 5.00pm ;SAT 10am til 5pm ;SUN 12pm til 5pm ;;AUTOLAND ;Quality used cars ;;64a and 64b Bridge Street ;Newbridge ;EH28 8SH ;;07756584624

    • Mileage: 83000 mi
    • Engine size: 1.798
    For sale
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