The excellent S3 receives an entirely new exterior design as well as new lightweight engineering and improved dynamics. The totally fresh 2-litre TFSI engine also improves performance figures and fuel consumption but has Audi meddled with a winning formula?
What is it?
A complete overhaul of Audi's fiery little hatchback that has been revered by competitors for so many years due to its practicality, performance and premium styling. A new engine sits under the bonnet and new exterior styling freshens up the ageing S3.
>What's under the bonnet?
An all-new 2-litre TFSI engine with turbocharging and direct injection powers this slick machine that is faster, lighter and more agile than its predecessor. The 0-62mph sprint time is down from 5.7 seconds to 5.2, top speed remains limited to 155mph but the new powerplant manages this hairy-chested performance while improving fuel consumption by 21%- it's now 40.4mpg on the combined cycle. Customers can opt for a manual or Audi's fantastic S-tronic twin clutch automatic gearbox.
What's the spec like?
New Audis are packed with technology and as this is a halo model, the standard specification is impressive. Drivers will be treated to a beautiful wraparound dashboard with matt-brushed aluminium inlays, a very neat flat-bottomed steering wheel and a folding MMI screen that includes sat-nav, Bluetooth and tons of entertainment features. The interior feels stealthy, with large aluminium-trimmed air vents that smack of fighter jet chic and really catch the eye. Built-in tech includes: all-LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, park assistance with top-down 360-degree display and Audi Active Lane Assist to name but a few.
We recently drove the BMW M135i and were blown away with its performance, handling prowess and general liveability but the S3 gives it a good run for its money. The interior of the Audi feels a tad more special though, and it is one hundredth of a second faster to 62mph, but there is something to be said for the M135i's rear-wheel-drive lunacy. The Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG is also due to be released later this year and it will be faster than its hot German rivals, producing a whole dollop of extra horsepower and torque.
What's it like to drive?
The S3 is a whole lot of fun to pilot around tight, twisting country roads. The turbocharged engine spools and fizzes, while the manual gearbox offers up a satisfyingly chunky gear change. The quattro system breeds confidence in all conditions and bends can be taken at alarming speeds but if the racing boots have been packed away in a cupboard and a gentle slog along the motorway is required, the S3 settles into its role as an accomplished motorway cruiser. It's quiet, comfortable and feels every bit as premium as its £30,500 price tag suggests.
The AOL Cars verdict?
The S3 continues to be an extremely accomplished hot hatch that offers a sense of interior luxury that many rivals struggle to match. It's quick but can also be quiet and comfortable when needed as well as featuring the sort of practicality that your average family car boasts. It's not completely crazy though, so those looking for a properly lairy experience will be more content with life inside the BMW M135i.
Model: Audi S3 quattro
Engine: 2-litre, 4-clyinder TFSI
Max speed: 155mph (limited)
0-60mph: 4.8 seconds
MPG: 40.9 combined
Emissions: 159 g/km