The new Audi S3 Sportback and Saloon have now been officially revealed, although recent spy shots pretty much showed us what was coming. It goes on sale this week with prices starting from around £38,000, and it’s pitched as a more luxurious and grown-up way into hot hatch ownership. It might be for you if you think the Mercedes-AMG A35 and Honda Civic Type R are just too cartoony. Even the new Golf R will get a big ol’ spoiler.
At first, it essentially looks like any other new A3, but Audi enthusiasts will spot the new grille, aluminium mirror caps and bigger alloys. The S3 badges, four exhausts and rear diffuser give the game away a little, but a de-badged S3 with a layer of winter grime will hide its performance well.
And there’s plenty of performance. The oh-so-familiar 2.0-litre EA888 engine gets 306bhp - a little more than before - and it once again gets a seven-speed S tronic auto and quattro all-wheel drive. Zero-to-62mph is over within 4.8 seconds and, while it’s definitely a secondary concern, you’ll be able to hit 39mpg if you’re an eco-driving pro. That’s a little better than the BMW M135i and Civic Type R.
When you’re not carving up a B-road, the suspension can be put into a comfortable setting and the exhaust note can be dialled down. Even the gearbox starts allowing coasting when you’re driving more frugally.
Driving slower gives you more time to enjoy the high-end interior. You get two 10-inch screens - a Virtual Cockpit and an infotainment screen - and the latter’s chip is said to have ten times the processing power than the last one. Waiting for the sat-nav to load should be a thing of the past. S3 buyers also get a scrolling wheel on the centre console, like an old iPod, plus the usual sporty touches like a flat-bottomed steering wheel and sports seats.
Those seats are upholstered in premium Nappa leather, while other standard kit includes LED headlights, an upgraded navigation system, grey 18-inch alloys and smartphone mirroring. Vorsprung models, due later, will add lots of kit like matrix LED headlights and adaptive dampers, and a much higher price.
There’s more space in the back seats than before, but the all-wheel-drive system does cut into boot space - the 325 litres in the hatchback isn’t too impressive.
Do you like the subtler look of the new S3, or are you more excited for the upcoming RS3 with over 400bhp? Hit the comments below.