The Most Affordable AWD German Sports Sedan in 2024 - SUV VEHICLE

The Most Affordable AWD German Sports Sedan in 2024

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Summary

  • AWD German sports sedans from BMW, Audi, and Mercedes deliver top-class driving pleasure, combining sportiness and comfort orientations.
  • The 2024 Audi S3 offers 306 horsepower, AWD as standard, a smooth dual-clutch transmission, and a more affordable price at $47,400.
  • The Audi S3 provides an understated yet sporty look, with optional extras for exterior customization and a black-themed interior with advanced tech features.



You want the assurance of all-wheel drive (AWD) in your vehicle, but it has got to be a German sports sedan. Well, you indeed have good taste, since you have stumbled upon this article. The Germans do knock it out of the park when it comes to making a family four-door sedan deliver an evocative driving experience. Whether it’s from BMW, Audi, or Mercedes, these three brands have varying degrees of sportiness or comfort orientations, but all three brands deliver top-class driving pleasure when it comes to the sports sedan segment.

If you want the most affordable AWD German sports sedan out there, well, I’m here to tell you that combining the phrases “German sports sedan” and “affordable” is an oxymoron. So, if you’re expecting Corolla or Civic prices from a German sports sedan with AWD, then you’re out of luck. However, as you’ll find out in a while, the most affordable German sports sedan isn’t as expensive as you probably expected.


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Say Hello To The Audi S3

The most affordable German sports sedan with AWD comes from a brand that specializes in AWD. I’m talking about the four-ringed brand from Ingolstadt, and it’s the 2024 Audi S3. The A3 range has just received a facelift for the upcoming 2025 model year, which also includes the S3 and its engine that received quite a healthy power upgrade. For this article, however, we’ll be focusing on the 2024 model, since the 2025 S3 has yet to reach dealers.


306 Horsepower And AWD As Standard

Do you want power? Well, Audi’s got you 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque out of their S3’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. It’s also the same engine that’s being used in the Golf R but produces a bit more oomph at 315 horses. But of course, being a performance S model from Audi, the S3 also comes with the brand’s Quattro AWD system, while the engine is hooked up to an S-Tronic seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT).

Now, I know you may shudder at hearing that it’s fitted with a DCT, but Audi’s S-Tronic transmission is one of the better ones out there. Unfortunately, if you want to shift your own gears along with a third pedal, that’s not possible in the S3 for the North American market. Still, the S3’s DCT has a reputation for being smooth and obedient when you want it for the most part, which makes for a great commuter car as well as an enthusiast’s machine when you want it.


About Its AWD

Now, when I say AWD, it’s more of an on-demand system as opposed to truly all of its wheels being driven 100 percent of the time. That’s because the Audi S3 uses a Haldex-based system, which means it’s predominantly front-wheel drive (FWD). When the sensors of the AWD system detect slip at the front wheels, that’s when it can send power to the rear wheels, but only up to 50 percent. If you want permanent all-wheel traction, the bigger S4 with its longitudinally-mounted engine allows for the use of the Torsen-based Quattro system that’s also rear-biased. Nevertheless, the Audi S3 is still technically the most affordable German sports sedan with AWD today.

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Everything Else That The S3 Offers

A 2024 Audi S3 Sedan going through a mountain pass
Audi


At a starting price of $47,400, the 2024 Audi S3 comes with a decent amount of standard equipment, but as with every luxury car, a lot of the stuff that you see in brochures are optional extras. Interestingly, the base price of the S3 is also right smack at the average new car transaction price for April, which is $47,244. That means the S3 should theoretically be popular, but then again, SUVs and crossovers are all the rage these days.

A Sporty Yet Refreshingly Understated Look

Side profile shot of a 2024 Audi S3 Sedan
Audi


In a sea of cars that look ostentatious and trying to creep the heck out of you, the 2024 Audi S3 is refreshingly understated yet sporty. Compared to the A3, the S3 comes with a more aggressive front and rear bumper, Audi’s signature single-frame grille that extends to the bottom of the bumper, sportier side skirts, and S3-specific 18-inch alloy wheel designs. Audi’s signature LED exterior lighting will come as standard on all trims, but if you want the more sophisticated adaptive matrix LED ones, you’ll have to splurge for the range-topping Prestige trim of the S3 for $54,300.

Speaking of optional extras, there isn’t a lot about the S3’s exterior. The design of the 18-inch wheels will depend on whether you opt for the Black optic package or not, while other extras include a black roof and the S sport package that adds red brake calipers and sports suspension with damper control.

An Interior In Any Color As Long As It’s Black

Front seats of a 2024 Audi S3 Sedan
Audi


Like the exterior, the interior is also very understated. Perhaps too understated because you had better like black, as this is the only interior color theme you can select for the S3. Sure, you can change the stitching details, but that’s about it when it comes to adding a splash of color to the interior. Still, the overall design is classy, and it comes with carbon atlas structure inlays as standard, along with fully digital gauges and the Audi MMI infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Power-adjustable front seats also come as standard on all variants.


Depending on the trim, you have one major option package you can select. For the base Premium trim, which has the $47,400 starting price, you can opt for the $1,700 Convenience package that adds smart entry, auto-dimming mirrors, and a driver’s seat memory, among other features. For the Premium Plus, which retails for $50,300, the $2,000 technology package adds built-in navigation in the MMI, along with Audi Connect telematics services, a bigger 12.3-inch version of the Audi Virtual Cockpit digital gauges, and a Bang & Olufsen 3D surround sound system, just to name a few. The range-topping Prestige for $54,300 only has Nappa Leather upholstery as a major optional extra, because this variant already comes loaded with every single optional feature from the two lower variants and their optional packages.

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Why The Audi S3 Is Worth Considering

A 2024 Audi S3 Sedan going through a mountain pass
Audi


If you’re dead set on getting the most affordable German AWD sports sedan today, then we highly recommend the S3 in the mid-spec Premium Plus without splurging for the Convenience package. But, if you absolutely need the most affordable way to own an S3, then the standard Premium trim should suffice if all you want is its performance. Thankfully, our friends from CarBuzz have been able to review the Audi S3 for themselves, which means that you can trust us when it comes to our impressions of Audi’s highly competent S3.

Neutral But Entertaining Drive

Front grille of a 2024 Audi S3 Sedan
Audi

The Audi S3 is surprisingly more thrilling to drive than the BMW M235i and is easier to live with compared to the Mercedes-AMG CLA 35. The quick-shifting DCT is catered to enthusiastic driving whilst still being obedient at low speeds. The S3, therefore, is more balanced, delivering the right amount of fun without being too harsh when it comes to ride quality, like the CLA 35.


In fact, the ride is one of the S3’s highlights, especially when fitted with the aforementioned S sports package with the damper control for the sports suspension. Not only does it improve the S3’s ride, but it also improves the handling of this compact sports sedan. The 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine can sometimes be laggy, but perhaps the bigger concern with the S3 would be its tight rear seat. The S3, in this case, is more of an occasional five-seater as opposed to being a true five-seater sedan.

How It Fares Compared To The Competition

Rear 3/4 view of the 2023 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe
BMW


The 2024 Audi S3 competes with the likes of the BMW M235i xDrive and the Mercedes-AMG CLA 35. The two are also AWD German sports sedans but cost slightly more than the S3. On paper, the three German AWD sports sedans are nearly evenly matched. This is reflected in their 0-60 mph times, which are separated by mere milliseconds. Even if the advantage is minute, you’ll probably be smug to find out that the Audi S3 has the fastest 0-60 mph time, whilst it also has the most horsepower compared to the other two.

Audi S3

BMW M235i xDrive

Mercedes-AMG CLA 35

Engines

2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder

2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder

2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder

Layout

AWD

AWD

AWD

Horsepower

306 hp

301 hp

302 hp

Torque

295 lb-ft

332 lb-ft

295 lb-ft

0-60 mph

4.5 sec.

4.6 sec.

4.8 sec.

Top Speed

155 mph

130 mph

155 mph

Base Price

$47,400

$48,300

$54,950


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