Audi S3 Review Audi's S models have always offered discreet performance, and the Audi S3 is a perfect demonstration of the breed.
While it packs a turbocharged punch and has tremendous quattro 4WD grip, its understated looks and grown up driving manners mean it flies under the radar when compared to some wild looking rivals.The restrained looks are matched by a rather restrained driving oakley radar xl experience. Keen drivers may be disappointed by the slightly clinical way the Audi S3 delivers its performance, but as rapid and refined A B transport the S3 takes some beating.It's a potent, high quality alternative to the many other hot hatches on the market. And although it's not the last word in performance and handling, with styling that's not exciting enough for some tastes, the S3 is still a force to be reckoned with.The original Audi S3 was introduced in 1999, and as it was based on the Audi A3, Audi's first premium hatch, logically the S3 was its first hot hatchback. As is tradition, this flagship performance model had a turbocharged engine and quattro four wheel drive, just like Audi's world famous rally cars, and it has featured in the A3 line up oakley wire ever since. Since 2011, it's had to play second fiddle to the blisteringly quick RS3 as the fastest A3 you can buy, but with 296bhp from a 2.0 TFSI turbocharged four cylinder engine, the latest S3 is a fast and powerful machine in its own right.This power output means the Audi S3 falls somewhere between front drive hot hatches like the Ford Focus ST and Volkswagen Golf GTI and behind rear and four wheel drive models such as the BMW M140i and Mercedes AMG A 45. In terms of Audi's own range, while the RS3 steals all the headlines, the S3 is a subtle alternative that's almost as fast as its bigger brother.The current A3 was the first model to use the VW Group's latest MQB platform, and the S3 benefits from its lightweight construction and is bang up to date. It also features quattro four wheel drive, which is similar to the system you'll find in the Volkswagen Golf R and the other quattro equipped A3s. The Haldex system usually sends power to the oakley whisker front wheels, although in the S3 100 per cent of the engine's torque can be diverted to the rear wheels if necessary.There are a few options to consider when buying an Audi S3. Firstly, it comes in four body styles three door, five door Sportback, four door saloon or open top Convertible. All versions come with a six speed manual gearbox as standard, while Audi's six speed S tronic twin clutch auto is available at extra cost.There isn't much to set the S3 apart from high spec S line versions of the A3. The womens oakley sunglasses sale bodywork is slightly more aggressive, while trademark S model touches include matt silver wing mirrors, quad exhausts and a unique alloy wheel design, as well as the obvious S3 badges. Interior changes are limited mostly to an upgraded instrument pack and sports seats, while special Black Edition models get bigger wheels and extra black trim inside and out.Fast Audis have long been focused more on effortless speed than driver interaction, and the latest S3 sticks to this formula. It serves up an unflappable driving experience, but it remains somewhat lacking in enjoyment when compared to the likes of the 316bhpBMWM140i.Lower and stiffer suspension is designed to sharpen up the handling, although this can mean the car crashes over bumps and imperfections in the road, so it's worth selecting the softer damper setting. A sports exhaust ensures the noise is more throaty than in a standardA3, but the steering could do with more feedback.Even so, as it's equipped with 25mm lower springs than the standard A3, as well as quattro four wheel drive, the S3 sticks like glue through bends, and will only push wide with understeer if you try to carry too much speed through a corner.All that grip means you can get on the throttle early out of the other side, and you'll find the pedal response sharp and straight line acceleration very impressive.The manual S3 will be the keen driver's choice, but the S tronic automatic is well suited to the car's hi tech character. It shifts incredibly quickly when you're driving hard, although it can prove jerky around town.As well as the sports exhaust, Audi has fitted a speaker in the bulkhead to pump artificial engine noise into the cabin, with surprisingly good results. The tone is bassy as the revs rise, and you get some fizzes and pops from the exhaust if you spec the S tronic box.The steering is less impressive, though.Tech developments include the use of new, stronger internal components, and a new lightweight alloy cylinder head. Audi says the current engine spec is 5kg lighter than the previous version, as well as more powerful.Impressively, the 2.0 litre TFSI in the latest S3 is not only more powerful than the previous model's engine, but cleaner and more efficient, too. When hooked up to the S tronic transmission, it claims fuel economy of 41mpg and 159g/km CO2 emissions for the three door hatchback and five door Sportback versions. The six speed manual box makes these cars slightly less efficient, with 40mpg and 162g/km.Go for the S3 Saloon, and you can expect 40mpg economy irrespective of gearbox; the S tronic claims 160g/km of CO2 and the manual emits 164g/km. Meanwhile, the S tronic only Cabriolet has official figures of 39mpg and 165g/km. This means the entire S3 range sits in road tax band G, so buyers currently pay 180 per year in VED.Starting prices for the Audi S3 range are slightly higher than for its BMW M135i rival, at just under 31,000 for three door models. And if you want an automatic box, you'll pay a premium of around 1,500 on all variants.Prices increase through Sportback, Saloon and Cabriolet versions of the S3, with the latter weighing in at just under 40,000. BMW's M235i Convertible is around 2,500 cheaper.That's before you've started to spec your car, and as ever with an Audi, it's easy to get carried away with options. So your annual premiums are going to be expensive although the car does compare favourably with the BMW M135i, which sits in group 39 across the board. In fact, taking into account the cost of ownership including fuel and servicing trade expert CAP claimed in 2014 that you'd be better off buying a new S3 than a year old one.
Either way, it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect the car to retain a healthy 55 per cent of its purchase price come resale time in three years.TheAudiS3 is a great hot hatch option if you're not looking to attract attention. The styling tweaks over lesser A3s are subtle, but are easily identified by Audi fans.
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