2019 Volkswagen Golf R vs. 2019 Audi S3 Sedan

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Golf R has standard whiplash protection, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the whiplash protection system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The S3 Sedan doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Golf R has standard Maneuver Braking that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The S3 Sedan doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The Golf R has standard Car-Net, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The S3 Sedan doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the Golf R and the S3 Sedan 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, all wheel drive, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras and rear cross-path warning.

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

Golf R

S3 Sedan

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

34%

45%

Neck Stress

336 lbs.

427 lbs.

Neck Compression

61 lbs.

143 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

80/169 lbs.

461/426 lbs.

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 flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Volkswagen Golf R is safer than the Audi S3 Sedan:

Golf R

S3 Sedan

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Abdominal Force

217 G’s

219 G’s

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

588 lbs.

777 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

274

333

Spine Acceleration

45 G’s

47 G’s

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

Warranty

The Golf R comes with a full 6-year/72000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car. The S3 Sedan’s 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 22000 miles sooner.

There are over 2 times as many Volkswagen dealers as there are Audi dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Golf R’s warranty.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Volkswagen vehicles are better in initial quality than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Volkswagen 24th in initial quality. With 2 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 25th.

Engine

As tested in Motor Trend the Volkswagen Golf R is faster than the Audi S3 Sedan (automatics tested):

Golf R

S3

Zero to 60 MPH

4.5 sec

4.7 sec

Quarter Mile

13.1 sec

13.4 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

104.9 MPH

102.4 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Golf R Auto gets better fuel mileage than the S3 Sedan (23 city/30 hwy vs. 22 city/29 hwy).

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Golf R Auto’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The S3 Sedan doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Brakes and Stopping

The Golf R stops shorter than the S3 Sedan:

Golf R

S3

70 to 0 MPH

156 feet

160 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

107 feet

113 feet

Motor Trend

Suspension and Handling

The Golf R handles at .97 G’s, while the S3 Sedan pulls only .92 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Golf R executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the S3 Sedan (24.8 seconds @ .77 average G’s vs. 25.2 seconds @ .81 average G’s).

Chassis

The Golf R is 7.4 inches shorter than the S3 Sedan, making the Golf R easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Golf R a Compact car, while the S3 Sedan is rated a Subcompact.

The Golf R has 7.5 cubic feet more passenger volume than the S3 Sedan (93.5 vs. 86).

The Golf R has 1.9 inches more front headroom, 1.1 inches more front shoulder room, 2 inches more rear headroom, .5 inches more rear legroom and .9 inches more rear shoulder room than the S3 Sedan.

Servicing Ease

The Golf R has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The S3 Sedan doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.

Ergonomics

Keyless Access standard on the Golf R allows you to unlock the driver’s door, trunk and start the engine all without removing a key from pocket or purse. This eliminates searching for keys before loading groceries, getting in the vehicle in bad weather or making a hurried start to your trip. The Audi S3 Sedan’s Audi Advanced Key doesn’t unlock the trunk.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Golf R has a standard rear wiper. The S3 Sedan doesn’t offer a rear wiper.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the Golf R has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The S3 Sedan doesn’t offer cornering lights.

Recommendations

The Golf was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 13 of the last 13 years. The S3 Sedan has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

Motor Trend selected the Golf as their 2015 Car of the Year. The S3 Sedan has never been chosen.

The Golf R was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2016. The S3 Sedan has never been an “All Star.”

The Volkswagen Golf/GTI outsold the Audi A3/S3 by over two to one during 2018.

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

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