2019 Audi S3 Sedan vs. 2019 Volkswagen GTI

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 GTI 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 Volkswagen GTI has only front height-adjustable seat belts.

The S3 Sedan has all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The GTI doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

Both the S3 Sedan and the GTI have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact 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, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights, rearview cameras and available lane departure warning systems.

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 Volkswagen GTI:

S3 Sedan




4 Stars

4 Stars






5 Stars

5 Stars

Neck Injury Risk



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

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

S3 Sedan


Into Pole


5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

13 inches

Hip Force

666 lbs.

834 lbs.

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 GTI was a “Top Pick” for 2017, but no longer qualifies under the tighter 2018 guidelines.


The S3 Sedan comes with free roadside assistance for 4 years unlimited miles. Audi will send help if you run out of gas, need a jump-start, lock your keys in or need any assistance on the road. Volkswagen doesn’t give free roadside assistance for the GTI.

The S3 Sedan’s corrosion warranty is 2 years longer than the GTI’s (12 vs. 10 years).


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 Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 7 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 12th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Audi 9 places higher in reliability than Volkswagen.


The S3 Sedan’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 60 more horsepower (288 vs. 228) and 22 lbs.-ft. more torque (280 vs. 258) than the GTI’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Road and Track the Audi S3 Sedan is faster than the Volkswagen GTI (automatics tested):

S3 Sedan


Zero to 30 MPH

1.5 sec

2.6 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

4.4 sec

5.9 sec

Zero to 80 MPH

7.4 sec

9.5 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

11.5 sec

14.6 sec

Quarter Mile

13 sec

14.5 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

105.7 MPH

99.7 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 GTI requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The S3 Sedan has 1.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the GTI (14.5 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.


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

Brakes and Stopping

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



Front Rotors

13.4 inches

12.3 inches

Rear Rotors

12.2 inches

10.7 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 GTI are solid, not vented.

The S3 Sedan stops much shorter than the GTI:



80 to 0 MPH

206 feet

214 feet

Road and Track

70 to 0 MPH

160 feet

163 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

113 feet

129 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the S3 Sedan’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the GTI (235/35R19 vs. 225/40R18).

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 GTI’s 40 series tires.

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

Suspension and Handling

The S3 Sedan handles at .92 G’s, while the GTI SE pulls only .87 G’s of cornering force in a Road and Track skidpad test.

The S3 Sedan executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the GTI Autobahn (25.2 seconds @ .81 average G’s vs. 26.1 seconds @ .69 average G’s).

Cargo Capacity

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

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Audi service is better than Volkswagen. J.D. Power ranks Audi third in service department satisfaction. With a 43% lower rating, Volkswagen is ranked 16th.


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 GTI can’t use the remote to operate the windows.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The S3 Sedan’s headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the GTI’s headlights are rated “Poor.”

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 GTI 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 GTI 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 GTI Autobahn.

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

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