2019 Audi S3 Sedan vs. 2018 Ford Focus ST

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 ST 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 ST 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 ST 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 ST 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 has all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Focus ST doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

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 ST 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 ST doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the S3 Sedan and the Focus ST 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, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights and rearview cameras.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Audi S3 Sedan is safer than the Ford Focus ST:

S3 Sedan

Focus ST

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

284

289

Neck Injury Risk

34%

62%

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

A significantly tougher test than their original offset frontal crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH small overlap frontal offset crash tests. In this test, where only 25% of the total width of the vehicle is struck, results indicate that the Audi S3 Sedan is safer than the Focus ST:

S3 Sedan

Focus ST

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Restraints

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Head injury index

103

133

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Steering Column Movement Rearward

0 cm

7 cm

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Femur Force R/L

1.4/0 kN

3.63/2.27 kN

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/0%

1%/0%

Lower Leg Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Audi S3 Sedan is safer than the Ford Focus ST:

S3 Sedan

Focus ST

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Chest Movement

1.1 inches

1.4 inches

Abdominal Force

219 G’s

277 G’s

Hip Force

308 lbs.

384 lbs.

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

277

410

Spine Acceleration

56 G’s

64 G’s

Hip Force

777 lbs.

805 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

16 inches

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

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 113 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Focus ST was not even a standard “Top Pick” for 2018.

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 ST’s 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 ST’s (12 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

The Audi S3 Sedan’s engine uses a cast iron block for durability, while the Focus ST’s 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’ 2019 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 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 22 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.

Engine

The S3 Sedan’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 36 more horsepower (288 vs. 252) and 10 lbs.-ft. more torque (280 vs. 270) than the Focus ST’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

The S3 Sedan has 2.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the Focus ST (14.5 vs. 12.4 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

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

The S3 Sedan’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The Focus ST doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the S3 Sedan’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Focus ST:

S3 Sedan

Focus ST

Front Rotors

13.4 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

12.2 inches

10.6 inches

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 ST are solid, not vented.

The S3 Sedan stops shorter than the Focus ST:

S3 Sedan

Focus ST

60 to 0 MPH

117 feet

121 feet

Road and Track

Tires and Wheels

The S3 Sedan’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Focus ST’s 40 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the S3 Sedan offers optional 19-inch wheels. The Focus ST’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.

Suspension and Handling

The S3 Sedan offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The Focus ST’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For better maneuverability, the S3 Sedan’s turning circle is 3.3 feet tighter than the Focus ST’s (36.1 feet vs. 39.4 feet).

Passenger Space

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

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 ST’s liftover is 28.2 inches.

A standard locking glovebox keeps your small valuables safer in the S3 Sedan. The Focus ST 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 ST 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 ST.

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 ST 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 ST 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 ST’s 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 ST 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 ST 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 ST doesn’t offer extendable visors.

The S3 Sedan’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Ford charges extra for heated mirrors on the Focus ST.

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 ST offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The S3 Sedan has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning costs extra on the Focus ST.

Both the S3 Sedan and the Focus ST 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 ST 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 ST 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 ST doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

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

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