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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

    £32,995 £32,995

    Variant: 2.0 T FSI quattro S Tronic 310 PS Audi S3 2.0 T FSI quattro S Tronic 310 PS finished in Panther Black, crystal effect. Specification includes park assist, advanced key, Audi beam and anti-theft alarm.

    • Year: 2016
    • Mileage: 10099 mi
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    John Clark-Aberdeen Audi
    01224 947 106 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • 2014 Audi S3 Sportback Quattro 5dr

    POA POA

    1 PREVIOUS OWNER, PAN ROOF, BANG AND OULFSEN + EXCLUSIVE RED AND BLACK LEATHER + EXTENDED LEATHER + 2 KEYS + PARKING SENSORS + XENON HEADLIGHTS + LED LIGHTS + HEATED SEATS + START STOP + NAVIGATION NEEDS ENABLING + High Beam Assist, Tyre Pressure Monitoring, DAB Digital Radio, Voice Control system - for Key Telephone and Radio Functions, 18in x 7.5J 5 - Twin - Spoke Star Design Anthracite, Partly Polished Alloy Wheels with 225/40 R18 Tyres and Anti, Bluetooth Interface, Electric Front and Rear Windows, MMI Radio - Single CD Player and Two SDXC Memory Card Readers witch are Both MP3, WMA and AAC Compatible - FM and AM (MW) Reception, Thatcham Category 1 Alarm, panoramic sunroof. 5 seats

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  • 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

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  • AUDI S3 SPORTBACK QUATTRO NAV WITH TECH PACK AND BANG AND OLUFSEN 2016

    £28,995 £28,995

    2016/16 Reg Audi S3 Sportback Finished In Daytona Grey with Luna Silver Sports Seats. Great Specification to Include- Technology Package Consisting of MMI Navigation Plus and USB/Ipod Connection, Bang and Olufsen Surround Sound, Front and Rear Parking Sensors, Privacy Glass, Black Styling Package, 19” Alloys, Black Headlining, Heated Seats, Multifunction Flat Bottom Steering Wheel, Xenon Plus Headlights. HPI CLEAR;;THIS ONE OWNER AUDI S3 HAS FULL AUDI SERVICE HISTORY AND BALANCE OF MANUFACTURES WARRANTY REMAINING. ;;INDOOR SHOWROOM- LOW RATE FINANCE WITH ZERO DEPOSIT OPTIONS- PART EXCHANGE- FREE DRIVE AWAY INSURANCE- NATIONWIDE DELIVERY. ALL MAJOR CREDIT AND DEBIT CARDS ACCEPTED- VIEWINGS BY APPOINTMENTS ONLY

    • Mileage: 21000 mi
    • Engine size: 1.984
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  • AUDI S3 SALOON QUATTRO NAV WITH PANROOF 2015

    £28,995 £28,995

    2015/65 Reg Audi S3 Saloon Finished In Florest Silver with Black Leather Interior. Great Spec to Include- Panoramic Glass Sunroof, 19” Wing Design Alloys, Advanced Key, Electric Front Seats with Lumber Support, Electric Folding and Heated Door Mirrors, SD Card Satellite Navigation System, Cruise Control, Rear Parking Sensors, Interior Lights Package, Adaptive Headlights, Privacy Glass, Auto Dimming Rear View Mirrors, Light and Rain Sensors, Windscreen Sunband. HPI CLEAR;;THIS AUDI S3 COMES WITH FULL AUDI SERVICE HISTORY AND BALANCE OF MANUFACTURES WARRANTY. ;;INDOOR SHOWROOM- LOW RATE FINANCE WITH ZERO DEPOSIT OPTIONS- PART EXCHANGE- FREE DRIVE AWAY INSURANCE- NATIONWIDE DELIVERY. ALL MAJOR CREDIT AND DEBIT CARDS ACCEPTED- VIEWINGS BY APPOINTMENTS ONLY

    • Mileage: 18000 mi
    • Engine size: 1.984
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  • Audi S3

    £32,995 £32,995

    Variant: 2.0 T FSI quattro S Tronic 310 PS Audi S3 2.0 T FSI quattro S Tronic 310 PS finished in Tango Red, metallic. Specification includes MMI navigation (sd card based), electronic stabilisation control (esc), dual-zone electronic climate control, DAB digital radio reception, privacy glass, S3 roof spoiler, door mirrors, light and rain sensor, LED rear lights, Audi beam, isofix child seat mounting, cloth headlining, LED daytime-running light strip, rear fog lights and rear parking sensors.

    • Year: 2016
    • Mileage: 3687 mi
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  • Audi S3

    £23,995 £23,995

    Variant: 2.0 T FSI quattro 300 PS Audi S3 2.0 T FSI quattro 300 PS finished in Brilliant Black. Specification includes DAB digital radio reception, super sports seats (front), start-stop system with energy recuperation, colour driver's information system (dis), progressive steering, preparation for sd card based navigation system, 8 passive speakers, bluetooth phone connection, electrically adjustable lumbar support, flat-bottomed 3-spoke leather multifunction steering wheel, heated front seats, LED rear lights and tyre pressure loss indicator.

    • Year: 2015
    • Mileage: 17873 mi
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  • Audi S3 Sportback

    £24,995 £24,995

    Variant: 2.0 T FSI quattro 300 PS Audi S3 Sportback 2.0 T FSI quattro 300 PS finished in Brilliant Red. Specification includes Audi sound system, privacy glass, Aluminium roof rails, interior lighting package and parking system Plus - front and rear.

    • Year: 2014
    • Mileage: 12260 mi
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  • Audi S3

    £30,995 £30,995

    4x4 2016 / 66 REG + 9,900 MILES + FACELIFT MODEL + SAT NAV + HEATED SEATS + CRUISE CONTROL + STAGE 2 REMAP + MILLTEK DOWNPIPE + K&N PANEL FILTER + APPROX 380 BHP + INTERIOR LIGHT PACK + AUDI DRIVE SELECT + XENON HEADLIGHTS + Dual-zone electronic climate control, MMI Navigation , DAB digital radio reception, Privacy glass, Colour Driver's Information System (DIS), Disc brakes - front, Bluetooth phone connection, Flat-bottomed 3-spoke leather-trimmed multi-function Sport, Heated front seats, Rear parking sensors

    • Mileage: 9900 mi
    • Engine size: 1984
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  • 2016 Audi S3 Sportback Quattro 5dr

    POA POA

    2016 / 66 REG + 9,900 MILES + FACELIFT MODEL + SAT NAV + HEATED SEATS + CRUISE CONTROL + STAGE 2 REMAP + MILLTEK DOWNPIPE + K&N PANEL FILTER + APPROX 380 BHP + INTERIOR LIGHT PACK + AUDI DRIVE SELECT + XENON HEADLIGHTS + Dual-zone electronic climate control, MMI Navigation , DAB digital radio reception, Privacy glass, Colour Driver's Information System (DIS), Disc brakes - front, Bluetooth phone connection, Flat-bottomed 3-spoke leather-trimmed multi-function Sport, Heated front seats, Rear parking sensors,

    • Year: 2016
    For sale
  • Audi S3

    £23,990 £23,990

    4x4, Full main dealer service history Audi S3 3 Door Hatchback 2.0 TFSI Quattro 300PS S Tronic Automatic registered April 2014 (14 reg) finished in Brilliant Black with Full Dark Silver Leather interior, 18 Inch Diamond Cut Alloys, Heated Front Sports Comfort Seats, Satellite Navigation, DAB Radio, Bluetooth, Audi Drive Select, Cruise Control, Start/Stop, Electric Heated Door Mirrors, Automatic Lights and Wipers, Dynamic Automatic Headlight Range Adjustment, LED Tail Lights, Brake Pad Wear Indicator, Chrome Package, Full Audi Service History on 18/04/16 at 14,523. Finance available on request - subject to status and terms. Ask about our Company Directors packages. Fully Valeted; UK Wide Delivery Available; Part Exchange Welcome.

    • Mileage: 21800 mi
    • Engine size: 1984
    For sale
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