2021 Volvo S60 vs. 2020 Audi A3 Sedan

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/10/27

Both the S60 and A3 Sedan have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The S60 has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The A3 Sedan’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

The S60 has a standard Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS), which use a specially designed seat to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the WHIPS allows the backrest to travel backwards to cushion the occupants and the headrests move forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. At the same time the pretensioning seatbelts fire, removing slack from the belts. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The S60 offers optional CTA Auto Brake that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The S60 offers an optional 360° Camera to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The A3 Sedan only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

The S60’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

The S60 has standard Volvo On Call, 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 A3 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 S60 and the A3 Sedan have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights and rearview cameras.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, its standard vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention system, with its optional vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the S60 the rating of “Top Pick” for 2020, a rating granted to only 32 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The A3 Sedan has not been fully tested, yet.

Warranty

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Volvo pays for scheduled maintenance on the S60 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. Volvo will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Audi only pays for the first scheduled maintenance visit on the A3 Sedan.

Reliability

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The battery on the S60 is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the S60’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The A3 Sedan’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2020 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Volvo vehicles are better in initial quality than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Volvo 31st in initial quality. With 15 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 32nd.

Engine

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The S60 has more powerful engines than the A3 Sedan:

Horsepower

Torque

S60 T5 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder

250 HP

258 lbs.-ft.

S60 T6 2.0 turbo/supercharged 4-cylinder

316 HP

295 lbs.-ft.

S60 Recharge 2.0 turbo/supercharged 4-cylinder hybrid

400 HP

472 lbs.-ft.

A3 Sedan 40 TFSI 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder

184 HP

221 lbs.-ft.

A3 Sedan 45 TFSI 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder

228 HP

258 lbs.-ft.

As tested in Car and Driver the S60 T6 is faster than the A3 Sedan 45 TFSI:

S60

A3 Sedan

Zero to 60 MPH

5.2 sec

5.4 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

12.8 sec

14 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6.1 sec

6.3 sec

Quarter Mile

13.8 sec

14 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

103 MPH

100 MPH

Top Speed

131 MPH

129 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/10/27

On the EPA test cycle the S60 Recharge running on electricity gets better fuel mileage than the A3 Sedan AWD (70 city/68 hwy MPGe vs. 22 city/30 hwy).

On the EPA test cycle the S60 running its gasoline engine gets better fuel mileage than the A3 Sedan:

MPG

S60

AWD

T8 2.0 turbo/SC 4-cyl. Hybrid

28 city/33 hwy

T6 2.0 turbo/SC 4-cyl.

21 city/32 hwy

A3 Sedan

AWD

2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

22 city/30 hwy

The S60 Recharge can drive on battery power alone for up to 22 miles. The A3 Sedan must run its internal combustion engine to move.

Regenerative brakes improve the S60 T8’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

The S60 FWD’s standard fuel tank has 1.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the A3 Sedan 40 TFSI’s standard fuel tank (14.5 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The S60 AWD’s standard fuel tank has 1.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the A3 Sedan 45 TFSI Quattro’s standard fuel tank (15.9 vs. 14.5 gallons).

The S60 has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Transmission

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An eight-speed automatic is standard on the Volvo S60, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a seven-speed automatic is available for the A3 Sedan.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the S60’s brake rotors are larger than those on the A3 Sedan:

S60 T5

S60 Polestar

A3 Sedan 40 TFSI

A3 Sedan Quattro

Front Rotors

12.7 inches

14.6 inches

12.3 inches

13.4 inches

Rear Rotors

11.9 inches

12.6 inches

10.7 inches

12.2 inches

The S60’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the A3 Sedan are solid, not vented.

The S60 stops much shorter than the A3 Sedan:

S60

A3 Sedan

60 to 0 MPH

110 feet

121 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the S60 has larger tires than the A3 Sedan (235/45R18 vs. 225/40R18).

Suspension and Handling

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For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the S60’s wheelbase is 9.3 inches longer than on the A3 Sedan (113.1 inches vs. 103.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the S60 is 1.8 inches wider in the front and 2.9 inches wider in the rear than on the A3 Sedan.

The S60’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (55% to 45%) than the A3 Sedan’s (58.1% to 41.9%). This gives the S60 more stable handling and braking.

The S60 R-Design AWD handles at .91 G’s, while the A3 Sedan Premium Quattro pulls only .87 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The S60 Polestar executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the A3 Sedan Premium Quattro (25.4 seconds @ .75 average G’s vs. 25.9 seconds @ .76 average G’s).

Chassis

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The design of the Volvo S60 amounts to more than styling. The S60 has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .27 Cd. That is significantly lower than the A3 Sedan (.33) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the S60 get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

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Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the S60 a Compact car, while the A3 Sedan is rated a Subcompact.

The S60 has 10 cubic feet more passenger volume than the A3 Sedan (96 vs. 86).

The S60 has .9 inches more front headroom, 1.1 inches more front legroom, 1.3 inches more front shoulder room, 1.1 inches more rear headroom, .1 inches more rear legroom and 1.5 inches more rear shoulder room than the A3 Sedan.

Cargo Capacity

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Pressing a switch automatically lowers the S60’s optional rear seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

With its sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the S60 offers cargo security. The A3 Sedan’s non-lockable folding seat and non-lockable remote release defeat cargo security.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the S60’s power trunk can be opened or closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a power or hands-free opening trunk.

Towing

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The S60 has a 2000 lbs. towing capacity. The A3 Sedan has no towing capacity.

Ergonomics

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The S60 has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

When three different drivers share the S60, the memory seats and mirrors make it convenient for all three. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver and front passenger’s seat positions and outside mirror angle. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a memory system.

The S60 offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and navigation instruction readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

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 S60’s available headlights were rated “Good” by the IIHS, while the A3 Sedan’s headlights are rated “Acceptable” to “Poor.”

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the S60 has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer cornering lights. The S60 also has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

When the S60 is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The A3 Sedan’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The S60’s standard rear and side view mirrors have an automatic dimming feature. These mirrors can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The A3 Sedan offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

Both the S60 and the A3 Sedan offer available heated front seats. The S60 T6/Recharge also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the A3 Sedan.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the S60 Inscription keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in Summer. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the S60’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The S60 Inscription offers optional massaging front seats in order to maximize comfort and eliminate fatigue on long trips. Massaging seats aren’t available in the A3 Sedan.

Economic Advantages

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According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the S60 is less expensive to operate than the A3 Sedan because it costs $473 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the S60 than the A3 Sedan, including $71 less for a water pump, $51 less for a starter, $242 less for front struts, $11 less for a timing belt/chain and $507 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/10/27

J.D. Power and Associates rated the S60 second among compact premium cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The A3 Sedan isn’t in the top three in its category.

The Volvo 60 Series outsold the Audi A3/S3/RS 3 by almost two to one during 2019.

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