Audi S3 Tuning

"Audi take on the Hot hatches"

The S3 is a good car tuning project to play with. Audi have done many modifications to the S3 including a twin intercooler and 4 wheel drive (haldex) system to help put the power down. This gives an excellent base for a tuning project.

Handling modifications are usually your first port of call for the S3. Drop the car optimally somewhere in the region of 20mm and fit stiffer adjustable shocks, bigger drops will need other modifications in most instances or your arches will rub on the tyres, especially if you have fitted larger rims.

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See our video which covers all the principles of tuning your Audi.

Turning our attention to the S3s engine we need to get a bit more power out of the top end and raise the peak power. The standard engine is very willing and able and has a lot of potential to offer the S3 tuner.

With just a few mods you can transform your S3 into a fun car, beating larger supercars on the track.

Audi S3 Tuning modifications.

You really need to keep as much low end power as you can and aim for a wide power band rather than a top end spike. Power comes on at around 2000rpm and the car pulls well up to 6000rpm. A set of fast road cams offer one of the biggest performance gains as far as a bolt on part goes. You will need to ensure that the engine is not starved of fuel so will need to uprate the fuelling.

Uprating the injectors is another beneficial modification and will deliver sufficient fuel. A fuel pump will only deliver a finite amount of fuel, so you may need to uprate this if your injectors are demanding more fuel. There is also the possibility of dropping in the more recent TFSi engines for a straight power upgrade and better tuning platform.

You can still perform the modifications we recommend to the 1.6 and 1.8 engines but you should only expect a modest power gain of 10-20%, for the same amount of money you could do an engine swap to the 1.8 Turbo and get an instant 100% power hike. TorqueCars would instead prefer to focus on improving the handling and braking of the smaller engined Octavia models.  This will create a fun car that is good in the corners.

The VAG 1.8 Turbo engines were stunning, a real favourite of ours, and a simple tune/remap is all you need to raise the power from 170bhp to around 225 bhp or more. Fitting a larger turbo, many choose the KO4 or KO3s will  raise the potential as the standard KO3 runs out of puff quite early on (around 5500rpm). To retain economy use a fairly aggressive mapping from around 3200 rpm and keep the lower rpm range in a more conservative setting, this will help to avoid wheel spin.

S3 Tuning

On the 1.8T engines it also pays to get a heavy duty recirculating diverter valve (blow off valves have caused error codes to show) and we would also uprate the intercooler. The 1.8 Turbo engine has been used in a number of powerful applications including the sporty Audi TT and can cope with power figures of up to 300bhp and even more on standard internals.

The main differences between the 1.8T 225bhp and 150bhp engines are in the head and intake. Swapping the head will help lift the performance potential of the 1.8T and a custom tune/remap can squeeze out a little more of your other mods as well.

The diesel engines lend themselves very nicely to a tune/remap and have another 30% power gain to give on standard internals. Uprate the intercooler and exhaust for further gains.

Audi S3 Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

The next area for modification is the intake and exhaust. Derestricting the airflow into the engine is the primary part of tuning so get a better flowing air filter. Induction kits sound great but due to the warm air in the engine bay they will not add noticeable power and actually rob you of power. Sports exhausts will certainly help air flow through the engine but do not go too large or you will reduce the flow rate. Stick to 1.5 to 2.5 inches for best results.

Getting a professionally flowed head with larger valves can fully release the engines power. In nearly all cases of S3 tuning your clutch will start to slip and this needs to be uprated - read our article on clutches for more information. NA (naturally aspirated) engines do not achieve big power gains if you tune/remap them, unless you have done extensive modifications. With turbocharged engines this is another story.

A tuned/remapped turbo will give phenomenal power gains and take full advantage of the strength of the block. Adding forced induction will see big power gains but this is usually too expensive to be cost effective. Turbos are harder to add than supercharger. It is harder to map a turbo as the boost comes on exponentially with engine speed. The nice steady boost to rpm characteristics of the supercharger make them easier to map. Decreasing the engines compression ratio will allow you to add forced induction, water injection may also help prevent detonation.

Audi S3 Wheel modifications.

The benefits of alloy wheels include a lower unsprung weight and more efficient brake cooling. The downside to large alloy wheels on your S3 is that you alter your effective final drive ratio and this will have a detrimental effect on acceleration and performance. Aim to keep the overall rolling diameter of the wheel the same as supplied from the factory. In all cases we do not recommend going above 16 inches.

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your car please join us in our car forums where you can discuss S3 options in more detail with our S3 owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Audi tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

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