Is an Audi S3 Just a More Expensive Volkswagen Golf R?

It’s fairly common knowledge now that Volkswagen is the parent company to Audi and that both model lines share common platforms, parts, and engines. However, it’s not an easy cross-comparison for most of the models. For example, a top-trim Volkswagen Atlas is not the same as an Audi Q7 and an Audi A4 is not just a Volkswagen Jetta with better leather. Apologies to the Volkswagen faithful. Let’s consider those cars distant cousins, at best.

But what about the Audi S3 and the Volkswagen Golf R? After all, they’re both all-wheel drive, they both have the same 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes about the same horsepower in both platforms, and for the car god’s sake, they’re both made by the same company, right? Let’s find out.

What are the similarities?

Let’s start with the engine in each car. As stated before, both the Audi S3 and the Golf R come with the same 2.0-liter turbocharged rated at 288 horsepower and 288 lb-ft of torque. Both cars run on the same Haldex-type all-wheel-drive system, although Audi’s version is called “quattro” and Volkswagen’s is called “4MOTION.”

They both get around the same fuel economy: 21 mpg in the city, 29 mpg on the highway. And they both have the same type of adaptive chassis control, which can be changed by the push of a button (Golf R) or the flick of a dial (Audi S3). On top of all of that, they’re both built on the same Volkswagen MQB platform.

What are the differences?

Now, you might be convinced that they’re basically the same car, just one is a hatchback the other is a sedan. Sure, however, let’s go over some of the differences. The Audi S3 is available with a Bang and Olufsen sound system with 14 speakers that put out 705 watts of pure aural power, while the Golf R is available with a Fender Audio system that has 8 speakers and puts out 400 watts of power. Both cars have similar driver-assist features, however, the Golf R does have adaptive cruise control, which the Audi S3 surprisingly does not.

Virtual Cockpit vs Digital Cockpit

Other interior differences include the instruments panels. To the untrained eye, it’s easy to write the Golf R’s Digital Cockpit display as being “the same thing” as Audi S3’s virtual cockpit. However, play around with both systems and you’ll find that the virtual cockpit is more intuitive and has better display graphics. The Digital Cockpit is easy to use, but there are more screens to get through and the map can only be shown on the instrument panel or the center console display, not simultaneously like on the Audi. Yes, we’re nitpicking, but they are different.


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Should you buy one over the other?

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then body style selection is in the eye of the consumer. Which basically means, it’s up to you. In case you’re wondering, though, the Audi S3 does weigh a little more at 3,494 pounds as compared to the Golf R’s 3,373-pound rating and both scoot to 60 mph in about 4.5 seconds. Price-wise, the Golf R carries a price tag of $40,395, while the S3 starts at $43,000. What does this all mean? It means that the Audi S3 is a more expensive Golf R. But if you’re a Volkswagen faithful, or just need the more practical layout of a hatchback, then the Golf R could be the better choice.