It’s onerous to fault the brand new Audi S3 for the best way it makes its efficiency oh-so accessible. Nonetheless, the best way it drives is simply a light evolution, so these anticipating a brand new expertise might want to look elsewhere. As a substitute, the large modifications are technological, and within the cabin. For patrons wanting a premium scorching hatch, it definitely suits the invoice. Nonetheless, a Honda Civic Sort R affords extra enjoyable for much less money, if that’s what issues probably the most.
That is the brand new Audi S3, one among two scorching A3 fashions on the best way (the five-cylinder RS 3 is due in 2021) and the corporate’s reply to the Mercedes-AMG A 35, the most recent BMW M135i and the upcoming Volkswagen Golf R.
As such, the S3 nonetheless retains a place on the very high finish of the new hatchback efficiency ladder, with out skirting too near the 400bhp-plus now put out by super-hatches such because the Mercedes-AMG A forty five and certain the following RS 3. It’s an train in evolution, not simply when it comes to the way it seems to be, but in addition underneath the pores and skin.
That’s as a result of regardless of this being a new-generation S3, dramatic modifications actually are few are far between. It makes use of the identical platform, engine and gearbox as its predecessor, with solely minor modifications alongside revised suspension and steering. The tip result’s that whereas the unique S3 was a little bit of a pioneer again in 1999, the specification of the 2020 automotive doesn’t precisely bounce off the web page.
Energy is up, however solely by 10bhp to 306bhp. Torque has elevated, too, now standing at 400Nm. As all the time, there’s quattro four-wheel drive, and energy will get to the wheels by way of a seven-speed dual-clutch automated gearbox with paddles on the steering wheel for driver enter; there’s no correct handbook gearbox accessible. The result’s 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds, which matches the outgoing automotive, whereas high pace stays electronically restricted to 155mph.
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The S3 rides 15mm decrease than the common A3 on its normal passive suspension set-up, however high-spec automobiles such because the Version One pushed right here – kind of equal to range-topping Vorsprung fashions within the UK – are fitted with adaptive dampers.
One new characteristic underneath the pores and skin of the brand new S3 is what Audi calls Modular Dynamic Dealing with Management. It’s a computerised administration system that hyperlinks the traction management set-up, torque distribution (which might be distributed absolutely to the entrance or rear axles) and adaptive dampers collectively in order that they work in concord. The tip result’s an S3 that’s ever so barely extra resolved than the final one, however you must look onerous for variations.
The extent of efficiency is nicely throughout the candy spot of what you may realistically extract on the highway. It’s pacey; the S3 surges ahead with solely a touch of turbo lag because the engine revs cleanly to six,500rpm, and in Dynamic mode there’s a brand new engine notice.
The S3 has turned to the darkish artwork of sound actuation by way of the audio system, however moderately than making an attempt to spice up the four-cylinder noise, the pretend sound piped into the cabin is a five-cylinder notice on the high finish. It’s eerily convincing, but in addition odd while you keep in mind that 4 cylinders reside underneath the bonnet. Preserve issues in Consolation and it defaults again to a well-recognized four-cylinder thrum that’s quieter for motorway cruising.
The twin-clutch S tronic gearbox feels snappier within the S3 than in lots of different Volkswagen group automobiles, and fortunately so, given there’s no handbook choice. Leaping on the paddles for shifts is the one means you’ll become involved on this regard.
Within the corners the Audi has immense grip reserves. You possibly can carry lots of pace by way of a collection of bends and it’ll take lots of provocation to get the impartial S3’s traction management gentle flickering. Row again the digital assistant into its Sport setting, and you will get a slight feeling of rotation from the again axle when you go in quest of it, however the quattro all-wheel-drive system actually doesn’t need you to. As a substitute it fires you round a bend as rapidly as potential, even taking off-camber corners in its stride with admirable composure.
The steering is brief on highway really feel and suggestions, nevertheless it’s lethal correct and neatly weighted in Dynamic mode, and with the quantity of grip on supply, you don’t must be exact along with your inputs to get the S3 down a difficult stretch of tarmac rapidly. It’s a very simple automotive to drive quick.
We’ve not had the possibility to strive the automotive on its normal passive suspension set-up, however the adaptive dampers supply one other space the place the S3 modifications over the automotive of previous, albeit by solely a high quality margin. In Dynamic the experience is as agency as ever for tight physique management in corners, however experience high quality in Consolation feels a bit of extra forgiving than it did beforehand. This helps to reinforce the S3’s credentials as a premium scorching hatchback that you may reside with on daily basis.
To that finish, the automotive’s visible makeover is refined at first look, particularly when put next with S line variations of the common A3. The entrance finish has extra aggressive, bigger air vents with black honeycomb detailing. Equally, the rear finish is outlined by a brand new decrease part for the bumper, full with diffuser and actual quad exhausts.
Inside it’s a well-recognized setting in contrast with S line variations of the A3, with the S3 receiving some minor trim alterations. Carbon inlays on the dashboard are non-compulsory, whereas the sports activities seats – that are plush quilted leather-based on the Vorsprung mannequin – obtain contrasting yellow stitching. Once more, as within the A3, the inside might be the most important change between the final S3 and the brand new one, primarily based on a brand new design utilizing extra onerous piano-black plastics, moderately than soft-touch supplies.
The infotainment is sharp and straightforward to make use of, with a ten.1-inch central show allied to a ten.25-inch digital instrument panel or full-size 12.3-inch Digital Cockpit system. Nonetheless, the central display screen can solely be operated by way of touchscreen inputs.
To accommodate quattro four-wheel drive, the S3’s boot shrinks when put next with front-wheel-drive A3s, down from 380 litres to 325 litres.
Consumers after the top-spec Vorsprung automotive should wait till later in 2020, however the usual S3 is offered to order now.
|Mannequin:||Audi S3 Sportback quattro S tronic Vorsprung|
|Engine:||2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol|
|Transmission:||Seven-speed automated, four-wheel drive|
|Prime pace:||155mph (restricted)|