It's not every day that a Subaru and an Audi can be reasonably compared head-to-head; the two brands tend not to compete directly in their respective segments. However, the latest WRX STI and the S3 Sedan offer the perfect chance to find out if the working-class Scooby can beat its upper-crust competitor.

The UK's Auto Express gets behind the wheel of these two all-wheel drive performance sedans, or saloons as the Brits call them. Across the pond, both of them are rated at an identical 296 horsepower, but the Subaru edges out the Four Rings on torque. Like in the US, British buyers have to pay a little more to get the Audi, but it comes with a nicer interior and more brand cachet, if that means anything to you.

The video starts out with a fairly standard road test comparing the two of them back-to-back – all fairly subjective. But then Auto Express takes the trip to the drag strip, and the results there are much more conclusive. There's a definite winner when they cross the line, but you have to scroll down to see which of these turbocharged models with rallying heritage wins out.


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  • 65 Comments
      car-a-holic
      • 5 Months Ago
      I just had an a3 for two days as a dealer loaner. Definitely better day to day than subbie. I was satisfied, easy to toss, pass in and out, get in and out, decent mpg. Much easier and balanced than my old wrx, but that wasn't the point of that wrx. They are oil to water different. But my fun car might be this!
      johnnyhedwardsjr
      • 5 Months Ago
      The A3 seems like loads of fun. Horrible comments revision by the way. Is this thing even in order?
        ferps
        • 4 Months Ago
        @johnnyhedwardsjr
        The default order is "best" rather than "new," which is a terrible decision.
      Michael
      • 5 Months Ago
      Not to be a Subaru apologist, but the STi was not launched properly for that race. A harder launch, and that race would be a different story.
        Jasonn
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Michael
        5.7 0-60 is one of the highest 0-60 times I've seen from the new STI. Most of the time it is much closer to the 5 second mark...
        May
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Michael
        Launch was better than the Audi's but STI lost quite a lof of time because of short first gear.
          Shanti
          • 5 Months Ago
          @May
          Yeah, but when are you in the lower rev band after a hard launch? If it was a rolling start then that would be a different story. I don't think the Audi's lighter weight could make up for difference in torque, either. And I seem to recall that previous reviews said that the gearing slowed the WRX down a bit (at least to 60), so I would chock it up to gearing.
          Ricky
          • 5 Months Ago
          @May
          I dunno.. Regardless of launch I feel the Audi still has an advantage because it has access to all of it's torque at such a lower end to the sti 4k rpm
        JF1GE
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Michael
        these kind of tests almost never get the launch right on AWD's
        unixfool
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Michael
        Agreed. That launch was BAD. You can't launch an STI with low revs. What's funny is that the narrator actually stated such in the beginning of the video (stating that the STI began to make power in the 4K range), yet they didn't launch the STI in it's power-band like most reviewers typically do. The S3 was fine because that's where it makes it's power...down low...so, it wasn't as affected and didn't have to make up ground. The STI is a revver in comparison. If you check the average times of an STI, you'd see that it typically runs 4.7-4.8 0-60 times and typically runs the quarter-mile in 13.1-13.3 @ 104-105 MPH. I'm just saying that someone does NOT know how to drive the STI in this particular video clip, because most e-zines have done much better than this. Those times are quite bad.
      car-a-holic
      • 5 Months Ago
      I just spent 2 days with the a3. What a fun little easy quick daily driver. I'm a fan. That's my next toy/ commuter. Not too harsh, easy to toss, pass sling around the turns, easy in/out and ok enough mpg for the beatings. I like you wrx/sti but my last wrx was nowhere this compliant or day to day easy. Audi is a nicer balance of the two in my experience too
      Rex Nahigian
      • 5 Months Ago
      nice 5.6s 0-60 time........ and that audi would not last a second in the twisties with an sti
      lendersmith
      • 5 Months Ago
      Makes me wonder how the Audi would do in the hands of David Higgins on the Isle Of Mann circuit compared to the Subaru.
        WindsWilling
        • 5 Months Ago
        @lendersmith
        Probably not well. Remember, they don't give the full story here on these cars, and kind of gloss over vehicle dynamics.
      Hoale
      • 5 Months Ago
      This is an entertaining comparison but if the Audi didn't win this comparison it would be surprising. A more accurate comparison would be between a similarly priced A3 model and the STI or possibly a loaded WRX and a base A3 to get the prices in line.
      Hernan
      • 5 Months Ago
      S3 for me, even if the WRX had turned out to be faster.
      Apex Surgeon
      • 5 Months Ago
      That drag race was BS. The STI driver can't drive.
        May
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Apex Surgeon
        Because heavier car was slower than the lighter one?
          jtav2002
          • 5 Months Ago
          @May
          Probably an STI owner. God forbid one auto media outlet tests the vehicles in a way that doesn't have his win.
        unixfool
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Apex Surgeon
        I agree. The STI needs boost to get a good launch. It makes boost at 4K. That means the launch RPM has to be close to 5K. That was not a good launch. You can't launch the STI like an S3. The S3 makes max torque before 2K RPM. It has nothing to do with weight, like the video says. It has everything to do with correctly launching both cars in a way that is advantageous to each. They did it wrong with the STI.
      Calvin L Miller Jr
      • 5 Months Ago
      The instant different i noticed is the audi is much quieter. makes me wonder why he didn't mention it. From a refinement stand point they are in different ball parks.
      Hazdaz
      • 5 Months Ago
      I'm not an Audi fan, but I'll have to give them credit for putting in all the luxury features that that car has over the STI and still making the S4 lighter. I'm also impressed at how low max power is for the S4 - 1800 RPM is quite low and would make the car feel even faster off the line than it is. I'm still a Subaru fan, but you got to give credit, where credit is due.
        lendersmith
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Hazdaz
        Ummmm..... it's an S3.
        SethG
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Hazdaz
        It's worth noting that the WRX is heavier but it's also a larger car. It's splits the difference between the S3 and S4 in size but is 600 lbs. lighter than the S4.
        Joey
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Hazdaz
        Max torque, not power.
      Gorgenapper
      • 5 Months Ago
      So long as the STI has the EJ257 it will remain irrelevant to me.
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