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Hot hatches are all about delivering performance and fun in a practical package you can use every day. That’s something Audi has been doing with its sporty S3 Sportback for some time. And following on from the new A3, here we have the new ‘S’ model to bring extra flair to this well-rounded hatchback.
Let’s take a look at what the S3 has to offer.
While this might be the most affordable and accessible way of owning an ‘S’ Audi, with the S3’s interior you’d think you were in something far more upmarket. It’s quite a radical change compared to its predecessor, with the last model’s now-outdated-looking design being replaced by a far more swish and modern cabin. The quality remains superb, though.
All models gain the latest digital Virtual Cockpit system from Audi, along with a large touchscreen and also digitised buttons for the interior and climate settings as well. There’s also the sporty touches you’d expect from a hot hatchback, including carbon interior inlays and sports seats, though it’s subtle in its sportiness.
It also remains a practical family hatchback choice, with plenty of rear seat space and easy access to the back – ideal for fitting child seats. However, because of the room taken up by the S3’s quattro all-wheel-drive system, the boot is smaller than that of the standard A3 – down from 380 litres to 325 litres.
Audi’s ‘S’ models aim to deliver subtle performance styling, and that’s true here. It doesn’t have the brash and over-the-top looks of other hot hatches, but rather a classy and timeless look about it. It’s arguably a bit bolder than its predecessor – noticeably with its more angular front end, wider and flatter grille and fancy Matrix LED headlights.
If you do want to go down that bolder route with the new S3, Audi has also introduced a pair of bold new shades – Turbo Blue and Python Yellow. More reserved shades are also available if you want your hot hatchback to look a little more reserved.
Despite the S3’s compact size, there’s an abundance of technology here, with all models coming with Audi’s superb digital cockpit system, as well as a large 10.1-inch touchscreen. The latter also uses the Volkswagen Group’s MIB 3 technology, which allows for rapid input responses, as well as enhanced connectivity features.
It’s also available with a multitude of safety tech – especially on top-spec Vorsprung versions, which include assistance features that help you to change lanes, as well as autonomous parking technology and a useful warning system that stops you opening your car into traffic or a cyclist, for example.
S3 trim highlights include:
S3 Vorsprung trim highlights in addition or replacement to S3 include:
The Audi S3 continues to use the firm’s well-regarded 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine. Here, it produces an impressive 306bhp and 400Nm of torque, which allows it to sprint to 60mph in just 4.6 seconds and reach a top speed that’s electronically limited to 155mph. It means it’s one of the quickest hot hatches around, and certainly delivers the thrills in this respect.
But for all its performance, it could also be quite affordable too – Audi claiming it will return nearly 40mpg, with CO2 emissions of 178g/km.
All S3s come with a seven-speed S tronic automatic gearbox, which delivers power to all four wheels through the quattro all-wheel-drive system – maximising traction in all conditions. Until the hotter RS3 arrives in 2021, the S3 will be the quickest A3 model available in the current generation.