2019 Audi S3 Sedan vs. 2018 Ford Focus RS

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The S3 Sedan’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Focus RS doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Audi S3 Sedan are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Ford Focus RS has only front height-adjustable seat belts.

The S3 Sedan has standard Audi Pre Sense Front, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Focus RS doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

The S3 Sedan has a standard Secondary Collision Brake Assist, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Focus RS doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

The S3 Sedan Prestige’s lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The Focus RS doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

To help make backing safer, the S3 Sedan’s cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The Focus RS doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the S3 Sedan and the Focus RS have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, height-adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, all-wheel drive, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights and rearview cameras.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the S3 Sedan the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 85 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Focus RS has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

The S3 Sedan comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Focus RS’ 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The S3 Sedan’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the Focus RS’ (12 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

The Audi S3 Sedan’s engine uses a cast iron block for durability, while the Focus RS’ engine uses an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 13th in reliability, above the industry average. With 11 more problems per 100 vehicles, Ford is ranked 16th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Audi 11 places higher in reliability than Ford.

Fuel Economy and Range

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Audi S3 Sedan uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended for maximum performance). The Focus RS requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Transmission

The S3 Sedan has a standard automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. The Focus RS doesn’t offer an automatic transmission.

The S3 Sedan offers a standard sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The Focus RS doesn’t offer an SMG.

Brakes and Stopping

The S3 Sedan’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Focus RS are solid, not vented.

The S3 Sedan stops shorter than the Focus RS:

 

S3 Sedan

Focus RS

 

80 to 0 MPH

206 feet

208 feet

Road and Track

60 to 0 MPH

117 feet

120 feet

Road and Track

Tires and Wheels

The S3 Sedan has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the Focus RS; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

For better maneuverability, the S3 Sedan’s turning circle is 2.6 feet tighter than the Focus RS’ (36.1 feet vs. 38.7 feet).

Passenger Space

The S3 Sedan has 1.9 inches more rear legroom and .4 inches more rear shoulder room than the Focus RS.

Cargo Capacity

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the S3 Sedan easier. The S3 Sedan’s trunk lift-over height is 26.3 inches, while the Focus RS’ liftover is 28.2 inches.

A standard locking glovebox keeps your small valuables safer in the S3 Sedan. The Focus RS doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

Servicing Ease

The S3 Sedan uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Focus RS uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

A maintenance reminder system is standard on the S3 Sedan to save the owner time and money by calculating maintenance intervals for oil changes, spark plug replacement, air filter replacement and tire rotation based on odometer mileage. This takes the guesswork out of keeping your vehicle in top condition and helps it last longer. Ford doesn’t offer a maintenance reminder on the Focus RS.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Audi service is better than Ford. J.D. Power ranks Audi third in service department satisfaction. With a 60% lower rating, Ford is ranked 24th.

Ergonomics

If the windows are left open on the S3 Sedan the driver can close them all at the outside door handle or from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Focus RS can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The S3 Sedan has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The Focus RS doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

The S3 Sedan’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Focus RS’ intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the S3 Sedan to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Focus RS doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the S3 Sedan Prestige detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Focus RS doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the S3 Sedan has standard extendable sun visors. The Focus RS doesn’t offer extendable visors.

The S3 Sedan Prestige has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Focus RS offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The S3 Sedan has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The Focus RS doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

Both the S3 Sedan and the Focus RS offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the S3 Sedan has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Focus RS doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the S3 Sedan Prestige has a standard Adaptive Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Focus RS doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

The S3 Sedan Prestige’s Park Steering Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Focus RS doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the S3 Sedan owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the S3 Sedan will cost $1145 to $2680 less than the Focus RS over a five-year period.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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