As frequent readers of this blog probably already know, I’ve listed my car for sale and am starting to entertain the thought of what’s next. At the top of my list is either a Porsche 997 Carrera (S) or an Audi S3 – while I’ve driven plenty of 997s, surprisingly I hadn’t actually driven an A3 or S3…so this weekend I went to my dealership to finally check one out. The newly facelifted 2017 A3/S3 models just hit the lots in late October, so it was perfect timing to check out the latest and greatest version of this sporty sedan.
After speaking to a sales consultant, they found one on the lot that was actually a really good fit for me – pretty much exactly how I’d order from the factory minus a $400 charge for red brake calipers, and I’d probably skip the pricey B&O stereo too (while very nice, I listen primarily to talk radio & podcasts)…but I adored the Tango Red metallic paint, and the black optics package is actually a pretty decent value at $2k considering it includes 19″ wheels, black trim, magnetic suspension, and color matched mirrors. Aesthetically the car looks great between the new facelifted front end, the red on black color combo, and the general proportions and lines of the car – Audi did a great job here. Part of me wants to believe I wouldn’t modify the exterior, suspension, or wheels if I bought the car…but who am I kidding, I probably would.
On the inside, this car had the $3k technology package which includes the new virtual cockpit layout (pictured above). It is really neat, the navigation is super easy to use and features real-time traffic, and also has a lot of safety features like blind spot warnings, front & rear parking alerts, assisted braking, etc. It comes with 6 months of in-car wifi that you can connect up to 8 devices to, which is more than excessive for my needs but pretty darn cool. This car also had $1,500 S Sport seat package which adds diamond stitched seats and a few other interior touches, which is a bit of an indulgence but looks very sharp. The ergonomics were great inside other than being a little tight on headroom in the back seat for me (I’m 6’1″ for reference).
On the road, the car handled great and was super fast. I loved dynamic mode which still rode pretty comfortable (a lot smoother than my S4, anyway) but made the exhaust louder, the shifts at higher revs, and really woke the car up. Audi estimates a 4.8 second 0-60 time, but Motor Trend got a 4.4 seconds on their test car – and let’s be honest if I bought or leased one, I’d probably chip it and mod it, getting it closer to a 4 sec 0-60 time which is damn fast…which would put it on par if not faster than a base 997 for sure which typically clocks in right at the 4.0 second mark. The DSG is super crisp (I still miss the option of having a manual, but I understand) and the new Haldex quattro system delivers the power quick with minimal turbo lag – I was surprised how quick it got up and went, no matter what part of the power band I started at.
So it’s fast, it handles great, looks great, and is loaded with technology and creature comforts…what’s not to love? The main downsides I could find is the price – while pretty affordable compared to the competitive set, it’s still topping well over $50 grand compared once you add the options on, and Option B would be a used 997 coming in at the mid to low $30k range. The good news is I’d be buying new, with a warranty, and have a lot less to worry about for the extra money. Audi also has some pretty good incentives and deals right now between the “Season of Audi” event and an extra $2,500 rebate if your current Audi is impacted by the Takata recall (mine is), and another $500 off for owner loyalty – so net-net I’d have close to $6k off the price regardless of whether I lease or buy, which gets this car comfortably into the mid $40s again. The other downside is the rear seats don’t have a ton of headroom – I’m 6’1″ and my head scratches the headliner, so I wouldn’t want to be a back seat passenger for a super long road trip, but I suppose it has more rear headroom than a Porsche lol.
I left being more impressed than I thought I would, and I had high hopes. It’s the perfect size, it looks great in & out, the technology package is super cool, and if you negotiate well you can get it in the mid-40s. I’m sure this will do great for the brand sales wise, and is now making my decision of what to buy next that much harder…