As an all-rounder the brand new Audi S3 Saloon holds loads of attraction, and the discount in value between it and the cheaper Sportback hatchback makes it extra tempting than ever. In pure efficiency phrases it’s onerous to fault, although consumers on the lookout for extra involvement ought to look elsewhere. Although the S3’s tech has leaped ahead in comparison with the outdated mannequin, we really feel that cabin high quality has taken a step again.
Ever for the reason that first Audi S3 joined the new hatch fraternity again in 1999, it set its stall out as not solely one of many quickest within the class, however one of many best to stay with.
Nonetheless, it’s honest to say that we gave the newest S3 Sportback a lukewarm reception on our first encounter. Rivals from Mercedes and BMW now hit the identical spot, however arguably out-perform the Audi in a number of key areas. Now it’s our first alternative to pattern the S3 Saloon, and on UK roads. Has the 4 door grow to be the decide of the vary?
Just like the Sportback, the S3 Saloon takes the newest A3 as its start line and provides a little bit extra design menace. Intakes on the entrance bumper develop bigger, whereas the singleframe grille will get silver highlights by means of its honeycomb construction, sitting above an identical splitter. The door mirror caps and prolonged aspect sills are completed in the identical contrasting shade, whereas the again will get some sharp tail lights and the S signature quad tailpipes. The automobile sits on sports activities suspension which drops the physique 15mm decrease to the bottom.
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Transfer as much as the Vorsprung trim, and people silver trim components are all painted black, and wheels develop from 18 inches to 19 inches. Gaping grille apart, it’s a reasonably delicate look general, however one which from each angle seems to be that little bit sharper and brisker than the automobile it replaces.
Park your self contained in the cabin although, and a a lot larger design departure is apparent – one thing of a danger, on condition that the design and end of the final S3’s insides have been amongst its best strengths.
The possibilities from A3 to S3 are delicate, however all welcome. The sports activities steering wheel seems to be nice and is nice to carry; the seats, trimmed in nappa leather-based as customary, really feel mushy and provide loads of help, whereas jazzy dashboard trim and an illuminated crimson ring surrounding the beginning button all give delicate nudges concerning the efficiency potential.
The S3 is loaded with Audi’s newest tech. The ten.1-inch infotainment display is huge, shiny and exquisite – the graphics look nice and loading occasions are quick. Not like most of its Volkswagen Group stablemates, Audi has stored the air flow controls in a financial institution of bodily switches slightly than embedded inside a menu on the touchscreen, and it feels simpler to make use of because of this.
The vents are mounted excessive and near the instrument binnacle; it provides the S3’s cabin a extra driver-focussed really feel than any earlier than it. It’s only a disgrace that they’re made out of onerous, scratchy plastic although – when it comes to high quality, they’re not a patch on the rotating ‘bullet’ vents of its predecessor.
That’s not the one place the place high quality seems like it could actually’t fairly match the earlier model both. We discovered a couple of too many surfaces which didn’t fairly stay as much as the admittedly sky excessive requirements of the mannequin which got here earlier than. The Mercedes-AMG A 35 Saloon and BMW M235i Gran Coupe are each arguably higher completed.
However little doubting the S3’s tempo. Mechanically it’s just like the outgoing mannequin and carries over its 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, however the unit has acquired a 10bhp energy bump to 306bhp, which as earlier than is distributed to all 4 wheels by means of a Haldex four-wheel drive system. The results of the small enhance is that the S3 now breaks the five-second barrier over the 0-62mph dash – its 4.8-second time splits the BMW M235i (4.9 seconds) Mercedes-AMG A 35 (4.7 seconds).
And whereas the facility supply feels largely just like earlier than, the S3 sounds totally different. Slightly than vocal teaching, the exhaust notice has been adjusted in submit manufacturing: beneath onerous acceleration there’s now an RS 3-like five-cylinder warble – a results of a simulated engine notice piped by means of the cabin audio system.
The S3 has by no means been the selection for warm hatch consumers on the lookout for the final phrase in driver involvement – and with a slightly impartial stability and steering that provides little suggestions, that is still the case right here.However in relation to traction, grip and composure, the S3 stays deeply achieved. Few vehicles can cowl floor so rapidly with so little effort – in lots of situations it’s simply as fast as Audi’s bigger S and RS fashions, as a result of the S3’s dimension is so simply manageable on tighter roads. It’s a automobile that is still extremely efficient at flattering its driver in any climate.
It’s enjoyable too. Suspension noise is properly damped from the cabin, and wind and street noise are pretty properly suppressed at a cruise – although the broader tyres imply that the latter is barely extra noticeable than in the usual A3.
Commonplace S3s use passive dampers and sports activities suspension. Whereas we’d want to order full judgement till we sampled a automobile on the usual 18-inch wheels, on non-compulsory 19-inch rims, there was a relentless jiggle to the experience over all however the smoothest surfaces. It’s by no means harsh, however equally it feels prefer it by no means really settles. High spec Vorsprung fashions get adaptive dampers, which previous expertise suggests will add a layer of sophistication to the best way the automobile offers with bumps.
Costs for the S3 Saloon begin from £38,465 which, at solely £565 greater than the Sportback, is extra carefully matched to the 5 door model than ever. It additionally implies that the Saloon is, give a take a couple of kilos, the identical value because the mannequin it replaces.
It’s additionally barely extra sensible if the figures are to go by. The boot opening isn’t as giant as on the Sportback, however the longer load space means 340 litres of house, beating out the 325 litres of the hatchback.
The choices listing is slimmed proper down for the newest S3. Past colors and wheel choices, the primary out there further is the £865 Consolation and Sound pack, which provides a Bang & Olufsen sound system, a reversing digital camera, heated entrance seats and park help.
Along with the wheels, the dampers and the styling equipment, the Vorsprung mannequin upgrades the usual LED headlights to extra superior matrix items, whereas including electrically adjustable entrance seats, a panoramic sunroof, a head-up show, adaptive cruise management and wi-fi smartphone charging. The S3 Saloon Vorsprung weighs in at £46,215.
|Mannequin:||Audi S3 Saloon quattro|
|Engine:||2.0-litre 4cyl petrol turbo|
|Transmission:||Seven-speed computerized, four-wheel drive|