Monday 24th September 2012


AUDI UNVEILS ITS NEW S3

Another route to 300bhp, and a bit more room inside than an A1


The ABT A1 and the gladdening prospect of the Civic Type R that you can read about not far from here on the PH News page show that there's plenty of life in the hot hatch dog yet.

However, as hot hatches go, Audi's own S3 has somehow never managed to blow much of a draught up the enthusiast's skirt.

Flattie wheel is optional
Flattie wheel is optional
Well, it seems that Audi has realised that and decided to crank up the wind machine with its new S3. It packs 300hp, 35hp up on the outgoing model, which they say makes it good for a potential 0-62mph scrabble in just 5.1 seconds (5.8sec previously). More significantly, it’s just half a second and 40hp down on the old RS3.

Already, it’s a lot more interesting – and that's before we talk about the looks. At the front, the S grille features matt platinum grey inserts with aluminium detailing, and is set off by a much more aggressive front bumper. There’ll be no confusing this with a 1.6 TDI S line, even if Audi does amusingly admit that the air openings by the front wheels are ‘implied’.

Xenon lights are standard: full LED headlights are optional, a first in the hot hatch sector. They’re super-intense and the colour temperature is even closer to daylight – matt aluminium trim ensures they look the part too.

Trademark aluminium S door mirrors sit above chunkier side sills, and there’s a meaty rear bumper with platinum grey diffuser and no less than four tailpipes. Audi says the roof spoiler is functional – it doesn’t just cut lift, but actually generates downforce on the rear end.

Neat S details feature inside too, from grey dials with white needles to sports seats with pull-out thigh support (just like in a Ford Escort RS Turbo). There’s a lovely detail for dashboard geeks too – a turbo boost gauge set in the rev counter. Pity the pictured flat-bottomed sport steering wheel is optional.

Roof spoiler does generate downforce
Roof spoiler does generate downforce
Although the 2.0 TFSI is the same 1984cc capacity as before, Audi says it’s an all-new engine. With twin balancer shafts and an electromechanical sound actuator, it’ll have a nice blend of smoothness and rort, not to mention eye-opening fuel economy. Up to 40.9mpg (and sub-160g/km CO2 emissions with the six-speed S-tronic) is right on trend.

It’s an engine swimming in technology, including clever thermal management, an exhaust manifold integrated into the cylinder head and a blend of indirect and FSI direct fuel injection. Fuel-saving direct injection is used for part load, with direct injection used for cold starts and higher loads. It redlines at 6800rpm.

To ensure it’s not a dull disappointment to drive, Audi has exploited the flexible MQB platform to good effect: 17kg has been taken off the front axle thanks to the aluminium subframe, crash structure, wings and bonnet, and the TFSI motor is 5kg lighter, too. As before, it’s quattro four-wheel drive.

It is 25mm lower than the regular A3, boasts variable ratio steering and has 18-inch alloys as standard. Audi doesn’t make too many great claims about the sporting prowess of the chassis, but the basic quality of the platform – including a four-link rear end – will hopefully mean it’s better than the current car. Which wouldn’t be too hard.

...but not all 'vents' ventilate
...but not all 'vents' ventilate
Order books open later in 2012. Prices are yet to be confirmed, but as the base price in Germany is £31,100, expect a suitable jump on the £31,840 list price of the current S3 Sportback.

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