2019 Audi S3 Sedan vs. 2019 BMW 3 Series Sedan

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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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 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

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 3 Series Sedan 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.

To provide maximum traction and stability on all roads, All-Wheel Drive is standard on the S3 Sedan. But it costs extra on the 3 Series Sedan.

Both the S3 Sedan and the 3 Series Sedan have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights and available lane departure warning systems.

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 3 Series Sedan has not been tested, yet.


The Audi S3 Sedan’s engine uses a cast iron block for durability, while the 3 Series Sedan’s engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Audi vehicles are more reliable than BMW vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Audi 1 place higher in reliability than BMW.


The S3 Sedan’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 33 more horsepower (288 vs. 255) than the 330i’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the Audi S3 Sedan is faster than the 330i:


3 Series

Zero to 60 MPH

4.4 sec

5.2 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

10.8 sec

13.9 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

5.6 sec

6.4 sec

Quarter Mile

12.9 sec

13.9 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

108 MPH

100 MPH

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 3 Series Sedan requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.


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 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer an SMG or a conventional manual transmission.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the S3 Sedan’s standard front brake rotors are larger than those on the 3 Series Sedan:


3 Series

Front Rotors

13.4 inches

13 inches

The S3 Sedan stops shorter than the 3 Series Sedan:


3 Series

70 to 0 MPH

160 feet

165 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the S3 Sedan’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the 3 Series Sedan (235/35R19 vs. 225/35R20).

The S3 Sedan’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the 330i’s standard 45 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

For better maneuverability, the S3 Sedan’s turning circle is 1.3 feet tighter than the 3 Series Sedan’s (36.1 feet vs. 37.4 feet). The S3 Sedan’s turning circle is 3.1 feet tighter than the 3 Series Sedan xDrive’s (36.1 feet vs. 39.2 feet).


The S3 Sedan is 9.9 inches shorter than the 3 Series Sedan, making the S3 Sedan easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Audi service is better than BMW. J.D. Power ranks Audi third in service department satisfaction. With a 14% lower rating, BMW is ranked 8th.


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 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

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

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