Audi A3: How to Perform Launch Control

Achieve incredible speed in your Audi A3 or S3 with launch control.

By Charlie Gaston - March 23, 2016

This article applies to the Audi A3 and S3.

Launch control is an aggressive example of innovative automotive technology. The technology works by allowing you to "launch" or accelerate your vehicle from a standing point (stationary), which could be useful to both racing enthusiasts and everyday driving enthusiasts, depending on what your individual driving needs are. What makes launch control such a popular driving aid is that it allows you to achieve an almost perfect launch that creates a perfect relationship between wheelspin and grip to leave the line as hard as possible.

How to Tell if Your Audi is Equipped with Launch Control

Both the Audi A3 and the Audi S4 are manufactured with launch control. Both models offer an S-Tronic DSG transmission. If your car has the conventional automatic transmission, you do not have launch control beyond whatever rpm the torque converter is able to be stalled to. If you have a manual transmission, you do not have launch control, but can install aftermarket launch control for a couple hundred dollars.

audi a3 s3 2.0t s-tronic DSG manual launch control
Figure 1. The key to launch control is an S-Tronic transmission.

How to Enable Launch Control in an A3

To enable launch control, you will need to complete the following steps:

  • Switch Drive Select to "Dynamic."
  • Press and hold down the "ESC" button on your dashboard.
  • Doing so will disable the electronic stability control program in your vehicle.
  • Place your foot on the brake and then press down until you have fully depressed the pedal. (In other words, put the pedal to the metal.)
  • Do the same for the throttle.
  • The tachometer will stay around 3,000 rpm to 4,000 rpm, and the boost gauge will display across your dashboard.
audi a3 s3 2.0t s-tronic DSG manual launch control
Figure 2. Launch control is easy to launch (pun intended).

Related Video: 2015 Audi A3 2.0t 0-60

Common Questions

How does launch control help race drivers specifically?

It sets the rpm in which the clutch is dropped (on a manual or DSG) to optimize the off the mark acceleration and improve consistency. On a turbocharged car, an effective launch control system will spool up the turbo, meaning no turbo lag after you set off.

Does traction matter when using launch control?

Yes, the more available grip there is, whether it be the preped pavement of a drag strip, or tire grip, the higher the launch rpm can be set to improve your rate of acceleration. Obviously, this applies to aftermarket launch control/2-step systems, as the OEM equipped launch control is not adjustable.

Does launch control have any downsides?

If it is the OEM-equipped launch control system on DSG transmission car, like an S3, then no! As long as the engine and gearbox are up to operating temperature, go for it! If your car has a manual transmission, obviously doing aggressive launches is hard on the clutch, and will reduce the lifespan of it. The more grip there is, again, from pavement and tires, and the higher the rpm launch is, the more friction, heat and pressure is generated, accelerating clutch wear.

Related Video: 2015 How to Launch DSG S-Tronic Audi

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