Audi S3 vs BMW 340i: Which is the better performance value?

3 Series | February 5th, 2016 by 14
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We recently sampled the BMW 340i on some fantastic driving roads, the kind of roads that would punish lesser cars, and it dispatched them with ease. The, new for 2016, BMW 340i is a sedan that’s hard to fault, as it’s capable of some very serious performance driving, cruising around town running errands and also seating a family of four in comfort. It’s a practical performance sedan that doesn’t break the bank or cause any inconvenience. Hell, it’s even pretty good on gas. So as it stands, the 340i is an incredible package and excellent value for a performance luxury sedan.

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But so is the Audi S3. Audi’s smallest S-badged car now occupies a very similar price point as the BMW 340i. While both cars aren’t typically competitors, as the S3 is much smaller and based on the A3 which occupies a lesser segment than the BMW 3 Series, it’s worth seeing what it brings to the table as both cars are so similar in price. The Audi S3 also offers a practical four-door performance package, with similar performance figures as the 340i, seating for four and around-town civility. Plus it comes with Quattro all-wheel drive as-standard, whereas xDrive is an option for the 340i, so there’s added value there. So which of the two is the better buy?

It’s actually a tougher decision than one might think. The Audi S3 is smaller, giving it less interior room, but that also makes it easier to park and could be more attractive to someone living in the city and its standard all-wheel drive can help sweeten the deal. However, 340i can actually seat five people if it needs to, something that the S3 can only do if that fifth person is a child or just really, really small and it won’t be comfortable. So both cars have their strengths.

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In terms of performance, the BMW 340i’s 320 hp is almost 30 more than the Audi S3’s 292 but it weighs a good 200 lbs more, so it evens out a bit. The Audi S3 is quoted at getting from 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds and the BMW 340i can do it in around 4.8 (with a manual, we haven’t tested it with its eight-speed auto). So performance figures are very similar. In terms of braking, handling and steering, we only drove the BMW 340i xDrive and haven’t yet driven the Audi S3, so we can’t say which drives better but the 340i will be tough to beat. However, we’ve heard very good things about the S3.

Both cars offer similar performance, are both sedans, can both the all-wheel drive and both cost around $50,000 with options. Give or take a couple thousand dollars, depending on options, and you can get a high-performance all-wheel drive sedan that can sit four comfortably and be driven everyday. One could say that the 340i is more car for the money because of its bigger size and two more cylinders, but the S3 makes up for that with its more aggressive sporty looks and Quattro all-wheel drive as standard.


It’s a tough choice because both are very good cars with their own unique take on a similar recipe for around the same money. We’ve liked the 340i very much and must say that it will be tough to beat but the S3 is a very good car as well with a ton of performance and capability for the money. So which one do you think is the better performance value?

14 responses to “Audi S3 vs BMW 340i: Which is the better performance value?”

  1. Kaisuke971 says:

    I’ll keep it 100 with everyone. The S3 is in my opinion an over-priced and overrated version of an already overpriced and overrated car: the Golf R. Who on earth having as an option the Focus RS, M235i, 340i, WRX STi or a C450 would buy the S3 over them without being brand-biased ? Honestly ?

    In France it’s even worse, because you can add the almighty M135i and the way cheaper but pretty much as good (if not better actually) 308 GTi… Come on !

    • Rob K says:

      To call the Golf R overpriced and overrated would be a rather unpopular opinion. It’s a very ‘well-thought of’ vehicle. Sacrificing some minor trackability vs. the STi to gain a higher class interior, improved everyday driveability, usable cargo space and more mature exterior is worth it to me and many others. All the other vehicles you mentioned are outside the Golf and Subie price range here in the States, save for the Focus (yuck…imo).

    • Kagan Oztrak says:

      I agree. The Golf GTI is the car to buy, but in that aspect the WRX is in the same price range while offering awd. The Golf R in my opinion is overrated for its price point.

      For this article, the 340i is my choice. Better looking, better proportions (overhangs), proper back seat and a manual offering.

  2. Kevin Salazar says:

    So you get more car in the 340i for virtually the same money. What more is there to talk about?

  3. Reino-five-five-oh says:

    The M2 😏

  4. roadkillrob says:

    I don’t understand this comparison, the 340i is more of an S4 comparison, the S3 is smaller and competes more with a 1 or 2 series!

    • In size, yes, but the pricing and performance are incredibly similar, that’s why we thought it interesting to compare. Plus the S4 isn’t out yet, so we’ll do that in the future.

      • hopper says:

        If you similarly option the M235i (now M240i) with the S3 you’re at a similar price point. If you similarly option the M340i, you’re above the price point. The M240i is the S3’s natural competitor.

  5. CD50 says:

    In 3 days will have 340i M Sport – no contest – comfy saloon when I want and a sports when that is my fancy. Plus good classic looks with less in your face aggression than S3 or Golf R. And better than overpraised Jag XE. Nuff sed

  6. Autopal says:

    If you are going to add xDrive to the 340i, then you might as well add the C450 AMG to the mix

  7. Jasper says:

    The Audi is a goosed up VW. The BMW is a BMW and the BMW home office doesn’t deceive regarding emissions. Of course my opinion is none of your business anyway (smile)…

  8. RochesterDave says:

    The 340i is a great car except the visibility is poor. It’s like sitting in a bath tub.

  9. Chris says:

    No manny tranny on the S3 is a deal breaker

  10. Bruce Dickinson says:

    so i own a 335 (manual) absolutely love the handling acceleration etc. but now 3.40iii hmm anybody knows when is the next facelift is due?

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