2019 Audi S3 Sedan vs. 2019 Subaru WRX

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 WRX 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 Subaru WRX has only front height-adjustable seat belts.

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 WRX 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.

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

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 WRX’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 WRX’s (12 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

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

A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the S3 Sedan’s engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the WRX’s camshafts. If the WRX’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the S3 Sedan has a standard 320-amp alternator. The WRX’s standard 130-amp alternator and largest (STI) 110-amp alternator aren’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Audi vehicles are better in initial quality than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 25th in initial quality. With 10 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 28th.

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 Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 12 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 14th.

Engine

The S3 Sedan’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 20 more horsepower (288 vs. 268) and 22 lbs.-ft. more torque (280 vs. 258) than the WRX’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the Audi S3 Sedan is faster than the Subaru WRX 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. (automatics tested):

S3 Sedan

WRX

Zero to 60 MPH

4.4 sec

5.5 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

10.8 sec

14.4 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

5.6 sec

6.4 sec

Quarter Mile

12.9 sec

14.3 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

108 MPH

99 MPH

Top Speed

155 MPH

150 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the S3 Sedan gets better fuel mileage than the WRX:

MPG

S3 Sedan

Auto

2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

22 city/29 hwy

WRX

Manual

2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

21 city/27 hwy

STI 2.5 turbo 4 cyl.

17 city/22 hwy

Auto

2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

18 city/24 hwy

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

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Audi S3 Sedan higher (3 out of 10) than the Subaru WRX (1). This means the S3 Sedan produces up to 22.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the WRX every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

The Audi S3 Sedan comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the WRX.

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 WRX 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 WRX doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

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

S3 Sedan

WRX

Front Rotors

13.4 inches

12.4 inches

Rear Rotors

12.2 inches

11.3 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 standard on the WRX are solid, not vented.

Tires and Wheels

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 WRX’s standard 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the S3 Sedan has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the WRX.

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 WRX’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The S3 Sedan handles at .92 G’s, while the WRX pulls only .89 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The S3 Sedan executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the WRX (25.2 seconds @ .81 average G’s vs. 25.7 seconds @ .72 average G’s).

Chassis

The S3 Sedan is 5.1 inches shorter than the WRX, 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 Subaru. J.D. Power ranks Audi third in service department satisfaction. With a 45% lower rating, Subaru is ranked 18th.

Ergonomics

The power windows standard on both the S3 Sedan and the WRX have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the S3 Sedan is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The WRX prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The S3 Sedan’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The WRX’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

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 WRX can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

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 WRX’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

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 WRX doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

The S3 Sedan has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. When the ignition turns off, the headlights turn off after a delay timed to allow you to securely get to your front door. The WRX has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the STI/Limited.

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 WRX 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 is only available on the WRX STI.

Both the S3 Sedan and the WRX 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 WRX doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

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 WRX doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Recommendations

Motor Trend performed a comparison test in its January 2015 issue and they ranked the Audi S3 Sedan higher than the Subaru WRX.

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

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