2019 Volkswagen GTI vs. 2019 Audi S3 Sedan

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The GTI SE/Autobahn 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 GTI 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, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors 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 GTI is safer than the Audi S3 Sedan:

GTI

S3 Sedan

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

33%

45%

Neck Stress

352 lbs.

427 lbs.

Neck Compression

53 lbs.

143 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

108/102 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 post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Volkswagen GTI is safer than the Audi S3 Sedan:

GTI

S3 Sedan

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

247

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 GTI 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 GTI’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.

Fuel Economy and Range

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

MPG

GTI

Manual

2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

24 city/32 hwy

Auto

2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

25 city/31 hwy

S3 Sedan

Auto

2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

22 city/29 hwy

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the GTI Automatic’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.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Volkswagen GTI higher (7 out of 10) than the Audi S3 Sedan (3). This means the GTI produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the S3 Sedan every 15,000 miles.

Brakes and Stopping

The GTI stops much shorter than the S3 Sedan:

GTI

S3 Sedan

70 to 0 MPH

159 feet

160 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

100 feet

113 feet

Motor Trend

Suspension and Handling

The GTI SE handles at .96 G’s, while the S3 Sedan pulls only .92 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

Chassis

The Volkswagen GTI may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 250 to 450 pounds less than the Audi S3 Sedan.

The GTI is 7.8 inches shorter than the S3 Sedan, making the GTI easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

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

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

The GTI 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.

Cargo Capacity

The GTI has a larger trunk with its rear seat up than the S3 Sedan (22.8 vs. 10 cubic feet).

Servicing Ease

The GTI 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 GTI Rabbit/SE/Autobahn 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 GTI has a standard rear wiper. The S3 Sedan doesn’t offer a rear wiper.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the GTI Rabbit/SE/Autobahn 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 GTI 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 GTI as their 2015 Car of the Year. The S3 Sedan has never been chosen.

The GTI was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” for 5 of the last 12 years. The S3 Sedan has never been an “All Star.”

The GTI was selected by Automobile Magazine as their 2010 Car of the Year. The S3 Sedan has never been chosen.

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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