Audi S3 S tronic 2.0 TFSI three-door hatchback Review | Autocar

19 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Audi S3 S tronic 2.0 TFSI three-door hatchback Review | Autocar
Audi S3

Audi S3

S tronic first drive review

What is it?

A car on which high expectations are placed, as the fourth-generation Audi S3 follows the impressive new A3 introduced late last year. Moreover, with a revised turbocharged 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine developing 35bhp and 22lb ft of torque more than its predecessor as well as a reworked four-wheel drive system with Haldex-style multi-plate clutch, the ingredients are in place to make this new car a truly cracking drive.

What is it like?

It is clearly not one for those keen on shouting about their preference for performance – a fact underlined by the S3’s rather conservative appearance relative to the competition. Still, the external elements that are unique to Ingolstadt’s latest hot hatch are all high quality items, not least of all its standard-fit, 7.5in-wide, 18in alloy wheels, which in combination with a 25mm lowering of the suspension help provide the S3 with a more aggressive stance than the normal A3 .

The S3’s interior is extremely straightforward. The driving position is excellent, offering loads of adjustment and good all-round vision. It’s all very logical: the dashboard is well laid out, the centrally mounted monitor sits high and the controls all have a common feel, albeit of somewhat light weighting.

The most impressive thing, however, is the sheer quality of the materials used throughout the cabin.

The latest version of Audi’s EA888 four-cylinder petrol engine combines with a 60kg reduction in kerb weight over the old S3 and the traction afforded by permanent four-wheel drive to provide the new S3 with exceptional straight-line performance, both in wet and dry conditions.

An official 0-62mph time of 4.8sec for the initial three-door hatch (the five-door S3 Sportback will follow later this year) is just 0.2sec shy of the recently discontinued RS3. while top speed is limited to 155mph.

There’s little drama to the performance. The revised engine provides a potent low-end and excellent responsiveness, and is terrifically smooth all the way to its 6800rpm cut-out. It is clearly engineered more for overall flexibility than outright top-end punch, and this also helps provide the S3 with outstanding fuel economy.

Meanwhile, a flap in the exhaust is meant to provide added aural qualities over the standard A3, but the soundtrack lacks intensity and sheer volume, even under a heavily loaded throttle.

Like its less-powerful A3 siblings, the new S3 employs Audi’s new MQB new platform structure that is claimed to provide improved weight distribution. On more challenging roads, the standard 225/40 R18 tyres offer plenty of grip, and the S3’s lowered suspension provides impressive body control. There is a degree of roll when you begin to push hard in more tightly apexed corners, but it builds progressively and is without any nasty surprises as you edge up to the limits of adhesion, which are very high indeed.

Audi S3

The problem is, the S3 lacks feedback, and with it feels rather characterless. The electro-mechanical steering (which boasts a variable-ratio rack) is direct, but at the same time devoid of any true communication. It’s also too light for my liking.

Should I buy one?

Overall, the Audi S3 is a very accomplished hot hatch – among the best in the business for pure ability, no less. It is terrifically fast, impressively agile and boasts loads of grip.

But, that said, it isn’t as engaging to drive we had hoped. What it lacks in pure back-road excitement, the new S3 attempts to make up for in overall quality. In this respect it is better than any rival out there.

Audi S3 S tronic

Price £31,980; 0-62mph 4.8sec; Top speed 155mph; Economy 40.9mpg; CO2 159g/km; Kerb weight 1,415kg Engine 4cyls in line, 1984cc, turbo, petrol; Power 296bhp at 5500rpm; Torque 280lb ft at 1800-5500rpm; Gearbox Six-speed dual-clutch automamtic

Audi S3
Audi S3
Audi S3
Audi S3
Audi S3
Audi S3
Audi S3
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