With 290 horsepower, a 0-60 time of under 5 seconds, all-wheel drive and an MSRP of just over $40,000, the 2015 Audi S3 has only one negative mark against it: its transmission.
Why would any self-respecting driver choose such a great car, but with the concession of letting an automatic transmission put the power to the pavement?
The S3 is light and powerful, and a proper 6-speed manual transmission would turn the car from a small-and-fast family sedan into a dream machine.
With news of the manual S3 potentially arriving in the United States, it’s time to ask yourself: Would you buy one, or would you search the used listings for something a little older, and perhaps even more fun?
If the Audi S3 is a precision thrill machine, the BMW M3 is a massive brute of raw power. A new M3 will set you back somewhere in the neighborhood of $60,000, but if you look backward to around 2008-2010, you can find them priced between $30,000 and $40,000. That’s still a lot of money for a used car, but you’ll get a 4.0-liter, 414-horsepower rear-wheel-drive V8. Better yet, there are manual transmissions on these cars, making them arguably the most fun machines humanity has ever built.
Another option is an Audi S4. You’ll find plenty of 2010 models in the low-$30,000 range and get a turbocharged V6 that makes 333 hp, along with that coveted 6-speed manual.
Keep in mind, though, that an older M3 is much more a performance car than either Audi. So what’s the best buy?
If it were me, I’d go with the new S3, if I could get a manual, for these reasons:
- It’s lighter and more fuel efficient.
- It’ll have plenty of speed.
- It’ll have modern technology and safety features.
- It’s impossible to know for sure how hard a used M3 or S4 has been driven.
Of course, this whole argument is for naught if Audi execs decide to withhold the manual-transmission S3 from the American market. Time will tell.
Which is more appealing to you: a new 6-speed Audi S3 or a used 6-speed BMW M3?