Audi unveils its new S3

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.

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (279) Join the discussion on the forum

  • ge0rge 01 Oct 2012

    rudecherub said:
    What would interest me is longitudinal 5 cylinder engine with genuine 40/60 Quattro drive train.
    This is exactly what i thought, haldex is great for traction, but for sporting dynamics - no. The 5 cyl throng is a thing of beauty and of proper sporting quattro's historically so why not bring it back smile.

    Dont think it'll ever achieve the 40.9 mpg, even downhill with a tailwind and in neutral ..

  • va1o 27 Sep 2012

    TerryCTR said:
    ^^ that was only on the last of the S3s though mate to try and shift them before the new one, originally the black edition didn't have the nav for free it only became free when they added tech pack
    Yeah but either way all new models A3s have nav prep (MMI, Colour Screen and 2nd SD reader) so the new S3 will have that as a bare minimum

    The SD card containing the maps is about £495 and can either be specified at the factory or activated anytime after by a dealer. Some people on the A1 forum have bought the cards of eBay for less.

  • HighwayStar 27 Sep 2012

    cerb4.5lee said:
    HighwayStar said:
    The TTS Black Edition doesn't even now come with Nav as standard. And you you, the charge a princely sum for it, £1600... It does a lot, Nav, radio, CD, iPhone/iPod interface & 2x 32GB SD cards. I'm fine with it but it has to be said it's well behind the best stuff that's out there now and in other Audi's. Some opt for the standard symphony system with Bose and go for a kenwood or pioneer system... All said features plus streaming, touch scream etc for less, the drop straight in and look OEM. Food for thought
    Apologies off topic I know.
    Our Black edition has nav but it was extra as you say, but it isnt worth it, its just not very good & its even DVD based! & as for the Bose stereo i was expecting good things but that sounds ordinary too & it sounds poor in comparision to the DSP upgraded stereo in my Z4M, Audis could be so great but its all the little things that let them down, its a big shame because most are great to look at, just dont drive anywhere in them & you will stay happy! wink
    It's strange how Audi has a, never really got the best out of the system and b, not upgraded the SatNav plus/replaced it with the latest tech. Re the Bose, others have swapped out the head unit and the Bose has come alive. If find sound varies from genre to genre rather then it generally sounds bad. The Nav doesn't do full post codes which many b!tch about. Not good if your destination is out in the sticks but overall the system is good enough for me... I don't live far from work so the majority of driving is casual, visiting friends etc... The MK3 will, no doubt, be properly teched up. If they give it some soul, I'll be there for the facelift model.

  • the-photographer 27 Sep 2012

    TerryCTR said:
    Later probably doesn't even cover it mate, I watched them for sometime with the intent of buying one if I ever managed to sell my bloody import. Even up until April I'm sure it was you had to pay for nav then they came out with one last push and each car was the black edition tech pack in sport back only.
    OK, I edited my post again, I just reading the brochure.

  • the-photographer 27 Sep 2012

    HighwayStar said:
    TerryCTR said:
    Yes I've seen this on the TT forum mate. That was one reason I thought it would be worth waiting for the new S3.

    I'm just hoping its gets a semi decent review when it's actually driven and it will do me I reckon
    Autocar reviewed the 2.0 TDi, today... 4 stars for outclassing all current premium hatches except for driving. The S3 will at least be the same... Depending what you want from driving a car it'll be for you or not. Maybe the Golf if you want a bit more driver appeal.
    Its worse than that, the months What Car tests the Giuliette, A3, 1-series and V40 (all diesel).

    The Audi comes top in ride and handling (with non-sport suspension), they claim sharp agile handling with controlled ride.

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