Anyone gone from a 3.2 to an S3 or vice-versa?


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Mar 14, 2008
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I currently drive a 3.2 and as much as I love it and as much as it's cost me in repairs in the last year (cam-chains, cam-chain tensioners, juddering issues etc) I still wonder if a newer S3 might float my boat. I like the seamless power delivery and the way it pulls from a standstill. I like it's sleeper looks over the S3 which is another stumbling block for me. I don't worry about parking it anywhere as it looks like any other A3 but that can't be said about an S3. My only criticism is it's not in it's element on B roads and the twisty stuff due to it's weight. I'd say 75% of my driving is on back roads/twisty stuff and 25% is A roads and motorway for work. I also love the sound the 3.2 makes and from what I've heard the S3 doesn't come close even when they're equipped with Milltek and other goodies. Maybe a newer 3.2 would do it for me but then I'd have the potential of going through the cam-chain/cam-chain tensioner/juddering issues again which would not be cool!!! I'm off to research S4/RS4's in the meantime!
Had the same dilemma when i bought my 3.2.
No doubt the S3 felt tighter and had less understeer when pushing, but this was traded against the fantastic throttle response on the 3.2.

What called it for me was the fact that, IMO both cars are more sporty tourers rather than hot hatches, so neither was going to be anywhere near as fun handling wise as say our old Megane sport.
So i went with the one that i felt offered a bit more fun engine wise.

Plus as you say i find my de-badged 3.2 attracts a lot less attention, to the point where my mates M3 was keyed last week as was another mates 911, my car that was sitting between the 2 went untouched.

It really depends on what you want, the standard S3 is slightly more sporty but the difference is very subtle whereas something like say a Focus RS, Megane sport etc feels like a go-kart in comparison.

While your out test driving it's also worth popping across the road to the VW dealer and trying out the Edition 30 or newer Edition 35 Golf GTI while your at it.
Pretty mild power wise as standard, but both have a detuned S3 motor so a quick remap and your over 300bhp in a car that is very slightly sharper dynamically than the S3 in my opinion.

End of the day though if 5 people drove the exact same cars you'd get 5 different opinions, so it's really down to how the car feels to you and if it meets your requirements.

Last bit of advice i'd give is to test drive the cars mainly on the type of roads you will be driving on, it's no good the car feeling great on a dual carriageway if you always take the B-roads instead.
Plus as you say i find my de-badged 3.2 attracts a lot less attention, to the point where my mates M3 was keyed last week as was another mates 911, my car that was sitting between the 2 went untouched.

I really don't know what some people get out of keying people's cars.. Offenders caught should be hung nekkid on a lamp post and publicly caned! :banghead:

Sorry to go off topic.
I've had my S3 for 12 months now and tbh after the initial new car feeling, I've started missing the 3.2 more and more!
I did say to myself when I got the S, I was finished with the 3.2 after having 3 of them (2 Audi's and 1 VW) but I've found myself considering another recently.
The S3 is the better car with it's more focused styling, standard spec and tunability but it doesn't have the drivability of the big V6 especially coupled to the DSG.
If I had to choose between the 2, money no object, I would still get the S but be prepared to miss the V6!
I had a 3.2 a while before getting the S3,and apart from the exhaust and engine sound being much nicer on the 3.2,the S3 is a better car all round,in my opinion.The downsides are more engine thrash,and a less pleasant sound,but they both understeer a lot from stock,and need a good bit of work to overcome that,but the potential of the S3 engine is greater,unless you go to the expense of forced induction kits for the 3.2