Audi S3 saloon: Review

Another Audi niche means another S model. So, following on neatly from the A3 saloon's launch earlier this year, the smallest booted Audi now gets a bit more go.

Just like an S3 hatch from here...
Just like an S3 hatch from here...
Summary: take the regular S3's 300hp 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged motor and all-wheel drive powertrain, and insert it into the firm's smallest saloon bodystyle. This is the Β£33,240 2014 Audi S3 saloon - and it's rather good, too.

For a while now fast family cars have been getting bigger and lardier, so this S3's rather compact dimensions mean you can really grab it and drive it like, well, an Audi driver.

Together with the Quattro four-wheel drive system, the squirt from the turbocharged motor - and, more importantly, the 280lb ft of torque produced over a ridiculously wide band between 1,800 and 5,500rpm (at which point peak power kicks in) - means scrabbling for traction on corner exit is never an issue.

It's also helped by the ride. You could accuse some fast Audis of being sprung too firmly - the S3 saloon however, feels composed and compliant, like the massive 19-inch wheels are working with the road to find grip, not trying to pummel the Tarmac into submission. Hopefully our first impression translates to a gnarled British B-road.

...but now booted. Is it any more desirable?
...but now booted. Is it any more desirable?
It means sprinting from 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds, the S3 saloon covers ground with a fluidity rarely seen in fast, four-ringed expresses, too. At just a brisk pace, it'll whisk you along with all the refinement you'd expect, but if you were, er, chasing a 911 up and over an Alp say, the Porsche won't get away. Just trust us on that one...

The chassis and steering might not give you options or involve like BMW's M135i (we had to mention it at some point), but it is a laidback and quick way to cover ground cross-country.

The motor's not the most characterful, but its breadth of performance is so wide that, mated to Audi's six-speed DSG 'box, it means all you have to do is feed the S3 saloon its favourite diet of fresh gears and super juice. We didn't get chance to sample the six-speed manual unfortunately, but we're glad there is one. The debate rages on.

Fast, not the most involving. Sound familiar?
Fast, not the most involving. Sound familiar?
The S3 is a noisy little blighter, with an active exhaust flap meaning the signature dual twin chrome tailpipes emit a droney parp. It's not musical like the M135i and not as granular or aggressive as Merc's A45 AMG, but it will turn heads even if the more subtle S aesthetic modifications might not.

A nod to the interior, too: it's like any A3 variant inside (which is to say right on the money) with a suitable number of bespoke-feeling 'S' bits to brighten the cabin and a pair of natty sports seats hugging your torso.

Efficiency, for those that are interested, stands at a claimed 40.9mpg combined with 159g/km CO2.

In standard three-door guise the S3 loses out to the more powerful BMW and is blown out of the water by the Merc's 2.0-litre lump. But with that bit more practicality, the booted S3 offers something slightly different - it's a proper junior super saloon.

1,984cc, 4-cyl petrol, turbocharged
Transmission: 6-speed manual, four-wheel drive (6-speed DSG optional)
Power (hp): 300@5,550 - 6,200rpm
Torque (lb ft): 280@1,800 - 5,500rpm
0-62mph: 4.9 sec (S Tronic)
Top speed: 155mph
Weight: 1,450kg
MPG: 40.9mpg (S Tronic, claimed)
CO2: 159g/km
Price: Β£33,240

P.H. O'meter

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