Home » The 2025 Audi S3 Seems To No Longer Be Nerfed

The 2025 Audi S3 Seems To No Longer Be Nerfed

Audi S3 Sedan
ADVERTISEMENT

When the fourth-generation S3 launched in 2021, the vibes were off. Not only had the Volkswagen Golf R stolen its thunder with an astonishing new differential, it was also thousands of dollars cheaper, made slightly more horsepower, and rode on the same platform. As a performance proposition, the old Audi S3 lost its shine in the face of its little brother, ending up in an awkward spot. Now though, Audi’s dropped in the good stuff, and the new 2025 Audi S3 seems to be reaching performance parity with Volkswagen’s ultra-hatch.

It starts with an absolute party piece, the electronically-controlled differential from the RS3 and Golf R that Audi calls a “torque splitter.” Not only can this differential send 100 percent of rear axle torque to a single rear wheel thanks to a pair of clutch packs, but it also makes it possible to powerslide a Volkswagen Golf R on dry tarmac, so expect similar behavior on the S3. While Audi was underneath the new S3, it also stiffened up some suspension bushings, increased front-end negative camber, tweaked the calibration of the available adaptive dampers, widened the front brake discs by 4 mm, and added a few new tire options including one from Falken.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

It’s wild to see a tire manufacturer known for solid value, Formula Drift team sponsorship, and sticky 200-treadwear aftermarket gumballs supplying original equipment on an Audi, but it’s just the latest frontier in Falken’s OEM push. As tire technology continues to advance and newer players continue to improve output and performance, expect to see more of this in the industry.

Audi S3

Adding some extra thrust to go with the chassis enhancements, the two-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the S3 now spits out 328 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque, gains of 22 horsepower and 15 lb.-ft. of torque. While that doesn’t sound huge, when combined with beefier clutch packs in and faster shifts from the seven-speed DCT, and clever engine calibration to keep the turbocharger producing consistent boost under partial load, it should make a real world difference.

ADVERTISEMENT

Audi S3 Sedan

A facelift usually comes with tweaked styling, Audi’s done some work cleaning up details. The front grille is more rounded than before, while the front fascia sees the vertical black accents between the main single-frame grille and the outer bumper grilles disappear, simplifying the down-the-road graphic. Around back, the faux corner vents in the rear bumper have shrunk, although a new textured rear valence has appeared to fill the void. Overall, the end result is a slightly more mature-looking S3, in keeping with the junior executive vibes of this segment.

Audi S3 Sedan

On the inside, a simplified low-profile electronic shifter, enhanced mood lighting, extra air vent brightwork, and more textiles add a touch of extra pizazz to an entry-level premium cabin. It’s still not as beautifully sculptural of a dashboard as the one in the Mazda 3, but this is definitely a quicker car. While I wish Audi would replace the capacitive touch volume wheel that works a bit like an early iPod’s scroll wheel with a physical knob, one look inside the Volkswagen Golf R suggests that things could indeed be worse.

Audi S3 Sedan

ADVERTISEMENT

Audi S3For the 2025 model year, the Audi S3 no longer seems content in living in the performance shadow of the Volkswagen Golf R. A new rear differential (pictured above), extra power, and tweaked suspension should all go a ways into persuading old S3 owners back into the house of four rings, all while attracting new owners who don’t want to feel shortchanged in equipment versus a Volkswagen built on the same platform. On paper, it’s the car it was always meant to be, and it should make a few Audi enthusiasts very happy indeed.

2025 Audi S3 Front Three Quarters 661463c015e08 Copy

 

(Photo credits: Audi)

Support our mission of championing car culture by becoming an Official Autopian Member.

ADVERTISEMENT

Relatedbar

Got a hot tip? Send it to us here. Or check out the stories on our homepage.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
36 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
2 months ago

I like this version better than the previous one. The only things I am not sure about is the rear valence/diffuser thing and the shifter. That’s one good looking differential too.

SooperDooperPooperScooter
SooperDooperPooperScooter
2 months ago

Just give us the got dang hatch already. No need for competing with the R with an S3, only sell the RS3 hatch.

Myk El
Myk El
2 months ago

So now German brands are taking influence from Hyundai? I guess congratulations, Hyundai. Maybe.

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
2 months ago

If I de-focus my eyes, it looks like a Hyundai from the front. That mouth and gills! Yuck!

Tom T
Tom T
2 months ago

Really looks like a Jetta. Is it because the Jetta is not sold in Europe that they don’t care that they look so much alike?

Needles Balloon
Needles Balloon
2 months ago

I really like these wheels, I think they could be adapted as an aerodynamic design for EVs quite well.

Seaway
Seaway
2 months ago

All I can think is how long it would take to clean them.

Smoke&Mears
Smoke&Mears
2 months ago
Reply to  Seaway

Or how quickly a pothole will wreck one of them.

Dave mid-engine
Dave mid-engine
2 months ago

Bangle ALL the front hoods!

Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
2 months ago

What is with the German brands putting black trim on their rear bumpers? This example, BMWs, it looks terrible.

And no hatch, no sale for me. If I want a tiny trunk, I’ll get a real sports car.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
2 months ago

Believe it or not, I’ve actually thought long and hard about the current gen S3. There are aspects of it that are very appealing.

1). Price

In the grand scheme of things these aren’t all that expensive, especially if you go light on the options. They’re also not selling, so all the ones around me have money on the hood, some as much as 6 or 7 grand.

2). They come in actual colors! Python yellow and turbo blue are excellent, and the Daytona gray pearl effect is the rare grayscale color you actually want. It’s quite striking.

3). Built on MQB, so you know it’ll be refined and make for a great daily.

4). Unless this generation is changing it, these have buttons, knobs, and switches…which is a massive upgrade over the Golf R.

5). AWD, and good all wheel drive at that.

6). Pretty damn good fuel economy for 300+ ICE horsepower

With that being said….

It’s powered by the godforsaken EA888. Damn that engine to hell. It’s unreliable and fussy in GTI/entry level Audi states of tune. Crank it up to over 150 horsepower per liter and good fucking luck. It’s not IF these will have mechanical problems…it’s when.

As a lease option these are mighty appealing, but I wouldn’t touch one once the warranty is up. And once you’re paying 50k ish for a German performance sedan, why not just get God’s own engine, the B58? It gets comparably good fuel economy with two extra cylinders and you don’t have to constantly worry about whether or not it’s going to un alive itself at any time.

This is also CTR/Integra Type S money too. You can’t get either with any form of automatic but they’re going to last a lot longer, require less/cheaper upkeep, and offer way more engagement. In conclusion…I really want to love the S3 but I just can’t bring myself to.

Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
2 months ago

It’s unreliable and fussy in GTI/entry level Audi states of tune. 

This is just not true.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
2 months ago

Then explain why the EA888 in my mom’s Allroad grenaded itself at 60,000 miles and mechanically totaled the car despite the fact that she kept up with maintenance obsessively. Or why my brand new MK7.5 GTI spent so much time in the service bay for misfires they “couldn’t diagnose” and ignition issues that got so obnoxious I bailed on it for my Kona N at 14,000 miles.

Or any of the countless horror stories on GTI forums. What sucks is reliability aside I actually like the EA888. It’s super tunable, it sounds good for what it is, and even when you’re driving like a monkey it’s a smooth operator. But you couldn’t pay me to deal with one again.

That being said that turbo V6 that’s in your S5 is a peach. Probably because it’s got Stuttgart’s secret sauce.

Last edited 2 months ago by Nsane In The MembraNe
NoiseVibrationHastiness
NoiseVibrationHastiness
2 months ago

I respect you and appreciate the insights you share, I believe we even have similar car shopping wish lists. I’ve read your musings as you debate a new family hauler; I find myself on a similar track. I say this to reiterate I share many points of view with you and that I do think you provide useful comments.

BUT

I write this to caution other readers the tired cliche ‘the plural of anecdote is not data’.

You are very vocal about your particular misgivings with the EA888, so as a happy GTI owner I want to speak up and give it praise (wait, more anecdotal data? crap). I’ve got 60k miles (at 110k total) on my GTI with ZERO issues. The thermostat housing recall was handled before I purchased; I’ve put a battery in it, couple sets of tires, and oil and trans fluid changes. Zero repairs or issues in my 5 year ownership. Its even been Stage 1 for ~20k, and aside from the expected occasional clutch slippage its been a great car.

I just can’t let you continue talking smack on the poor Golf’s of the world! They’re wonderful little cars and the unreliability is overstated.

Just because I’m feeling frisky => plaid seats > anything Hyundai could ever come up with. Also the Kona is ugly.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
2 months ago

Ugly or not, at least it looks like something. The same can’t be said of any Golf 😉

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
2 months ago

You do of course make a great point about anecdotal evidence-but I do wonder if this uneveness of experience points to VW having an issue with quality control? A supporting anecdote (lol) a car journo’s post I was reading said one of the things he noticed and or was told on a tour of the factory where they build the Macan/Q3/Tiguan was that the Macan had much tighter quality controls including a higher level of review of parts that were sourced from suppliers to ensure they were top notch. Having had bad personal experiences with an audi and knowing several close friends and family who had bad experience with Audi it’s always easy for me to believe that VW is similar-glad yours has been better. I’ve been considering a low mileage MK7 among some other options as a possible daily for myself.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
2 months ago

There’s also the fact that pretty much every reliability metric you can find paints a bleak picture of VW. Really the only one they look good in is maintenance costs and that’s solely because they offer two years of free maintenance on their new cars.

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
2 months ago

Which is such a stupid gimmick honestly-Mazda is offering the same thing. And it’s like on one hand sure I’ll take it but it’s what like 2 or 3 free oil changes on a $30K + car is kind of a drop in the bucket and I agree it’s set up to give oily salespeople a talking point when folks bring up reliability. IMO BMW was first to offer this back in the late 00s so it’s easy to be suspect of their motives.

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
2 months ago

I’ve really thought about shopping for a Golf R but like you I’m afraid that this engine has big long term time bomb potential. Too bad too as I’ve driven my brother’s previous gen RS3 (bespoke Audi turbo i5 but otherwise same platform) and it’s fantastic, comfortable, and imo the right size for a daily driver-the S3 especially with this power bump could be so great…but I will second your anecdote below a friend of a friend I talked to recently is on his 3rd new VW with repeat warranty issues on all of them-with the most recent a new Golf R. Though to be fair it’s the R has issues with the infotainment not the engine.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
2 months ago

I mean I get the appeal of the spicy Golfs, I bought one. But I personally don’t want to deal with German sports car reliability in a daily…especially a hot hatch, which at its core is supposed to be a regular car for regular activities that you can also have fun with.

It’s a normal car first and a fun car second. For me personally my Kona N fulfills that mission better than my GTI did. Also that turbo 5 is fantastic. That’s a VAG leap of faith I’d take without hesitation. I lust after the TTRS like nobodies business.

Box Rocket
Box Rocket
2 months ago

…why does it have jowls?

Arch Duke Maxyenko
Arch Duke Maxyenko
2 months ago
Reply to  Box Rocket

Because Nixon’s back, baby! Awooooooooooo

Box Rocket
Box Rocket
2 months ago

Does that include the headless body of Spiro Agnew?

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
2 months ago
Reply to  Box Rocket

They’re speed jowls. 😉

Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
2 months ago

The pre-facelift S3’s can be proper quick and an absolute hoot. Bolt-ons and a tune will get you pretty far into the 11’s. Can’t wait to see what this one can do. The corporate single frame grille has lost its mojo in recent years (nothing can top the 8V RS3 or B9 RS5), but aside from that it looks pretty nice.

DaFaRo
DaFaRo
2 months ago

WTF is going on with that grill?

It gained in power but lost its appeal.

Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
2 months ago
Reply to  DaFaRo

I’m just glad it didn’t gain the RS3’s weird ass black surround. It’s god awful.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
2 months ago

The current RS3 is criminally ugly. It’s a damn shame because that 5 cylinder and all wheel drive system are *chef’s kiss* but the car looks like a tooner Audi that fell victim to Autozone aesthetic mods…but it isn’t! It’s a $70,000 luxury car!

I’d consider looking at one in a few years but they need to fix the front end. I’ve also heard critiques that that engine is only truly special when it’s at 10/10ths but I’d track the shit out of an RS3 or TTRS so I’m sure that won’t be an issue.

Last edited 2 months ago by Nsane In The MembraNe
Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
2 months ago

Yeah they peaked with the 8Y and it’s all downhill from there. It’s just the mug that gets me, the rest looks fine.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
2 months ago

It’s so bad. I’ve seen one in person too and it’s somehow even worse. It’s almost as bad as the beaver teeth Bimmers. Almost…

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
2 months ago
Reply to  DaFaRo

The supply chain shortages of black plastic honeycomb material seems to have passed.

Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
2 months ago

Before I read the article, i seriously though this was a Hyundai Sonata at first.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
2 months ago

That makes 2 of us…

John Beef
John Beef
2 months ago

That makes 3 of us…

Box Rocket
Box Rocket
2 months ago

*swings golf club* Fore!

I mean four.

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
2 months ago

Beat me to it..

36
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x