The Audi S3 has lengthy been an fanatic’s luxurious sedan various to the Volkswagen Golf R. These two have shared chassis, powertrains and driving dynamics, however all the time different extensively when it got here to pricing. Now not is the Golf R its sole comparability, although, as others just like the Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 and BMW M235i Gran Coupe at the moment are right here to problem it. And regardless of its extra pure luxurious competitors being within the fold, that Golf R comparability is extra legitimate than ever, because the freshly redesigned S3, beginning at $46,925 with vacation spot, is priced practically identically to a Golf R.
With rivals knocking on the door from each which manner, it’s an excellent factor that the S3 remains to be a small storm of a sedan to drive. The two.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder makes a powerful 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, which is sweet sufficient to crack off 4.5-second 0-60-mph occasions utilizing the automotive’s launch management operate. This little bugger is fast, and it’s joyful to shout about it with the lively exhaust system. Put it in “Current” mode — sure, Audi is being well mannered about its exhaust mode setting names — and it crackles, pops and bangs on shifts like each different efficiency automotive out of Germany tends to do lately. There’s nothing distinctive or significantly particular concerning the noise, however it’s certainly current. Onlookers won’t ever mistake it for an A3, and we’re going to depend that as some extent within the S3’s favor.
Within the realm of much less constructive information, Audi’s latest downward development by way of inside luxurious hits the A3/S3 fashions, too. The design is certain to catch your consideration upon first look, however spend extra time with the supplies used all through the cabin, and also you’ll rapidly conclude that this S3 is of a decrease high quality than the outgoing one. In case you’re one who favors a Blade Runner-esque look to your inside, although, this S3 is for you. It’s all sharp edges and brutalism in model. Performance is shockingly good, apart from the perplexing contact quantity scroller that operates like an previous iPod Nano. The previous little knob was higher. Moreover that, Audi supplies bodily, simply learn controls for the local weather and radio. It’s the direct reverse of a Golf R on this respect, which is one purpose why the S3 is so tempting. Making an attempt to function the Golf R’s irritating local weather/multimedia interface at night time could be all that is wanted to win you over to Audi’s aspect.
Begin hustling an S3 down a twisty street, although, and favor rapidly returns to the Golf R. That’s as a result of Audi doesn’t equip the S3 with the brand new torque-vectoring rear differential discovered on the Golf R. At Audi, this superior dealing with (and drifting) tech is reserved for the five-cylinder RS 3 — a disgrace, seeing that this new rear differential genuinely made the brand new Golf R way more enjoyable to drive than the earlier one.
As an alternative, the Quattro all-wheel-drive system does its job of quelling any trace of on-power understeer in corners, and accelerating you thru them with a great deal of momentum. Dial the adaptive dampers as much as their most aggressive setting, and the experience remains to be moderately agreeable. It’s finest left in that setting in order for you probably the most reactive and steady dealing with really feel down a meandering street.
The S3’s small dimension works within the automotive’s favor relating to agility and ease of use, however the 3,538-pound curb weight is an excessive amount of to make it really feel small and tossable. This sedan’s weight is noticeable by way of corners, and it sadly comes with a dab of front-heaviness, not neutrality. The tire setup on the S3 isn’t huge, with 235-section-width rubber in any respect 4 corners while you spec the optionally available 19-inch wheels, however these summer time tires assist bail the automotive out in some instances. Even while you assume the chassis is slightly overburdened, the S3 remains to be tenaciously gripping to the pavement.
Like many Audi merchandise of the “S” selection, the S3 shines in day by day driving obligation. The added efficiency you get doesn’t appear to hinder experience consolation in in the least, because the automotive plods over poor pavement with the convenience and isolation you’d count on from an A3. We can’t say the identical for the CLA 35, as AMG takes efficiency a bit extra significantly than Audi on this case. Even the loud exhaust could be switched to a whisper, reworking the S3 into a great commuter.
Total utility is stable, with 35.2 inches of rear legroom, although the pretty massive S Sport seats do minimize into and crowd the house within the again. It’s near what you’d discover in a Golf R, however with out the tall roof overhead. After all, the S3 trunk can’t compete with the Golf’s hatchback. It’s proper about now that we want Audi bought its Sportback model of the S3 and RS 3 right here, as a capacious hatchback is sort of all the time preferable over a small sedan in our eyes (although there could be some caveats).
However alas, we’re caught with the sedan, and regardless of moaning over the physique form, the S3 seems shockingly good. This tester’s Daytona Grey Pearl isn’t our most well-liked shade possibility, however the beneficiant software of purple S3 accents and bi-color wheels convey some intrigue to the bundle. It’s a small, scrappy automotive, and the aggressiveness is ramped up one other notch with the Black Optic Package deal that chops all of the silver trim away to get replaced with shiny black trim, a particular improve.
Sadly, all of those choices steeply enhance the worth past that tempting base stage talked about above. On the absolute minimal, you’ll need the $1,100 S Sport Package deal that features the adaptive dampers and the 19-inch wheel/summer time tire bundle that forces you into the $1,950 Black Optic Package deal. This ramps the worth as much as $48,995, which remains to be close by of a Golf R that comes absolutely loaded as customary. The worth additionally compares properly to rivals just like the AMG CLA 35 and M235i Gran Coupe that each get much more costly with comparable tools.
Because it stands in an primarily loaded state at $55,890, the S3 is a legit do-it-all performer with practically each little bit of tech you may want or count on from an Audi. You may have enjoyable and smack by way of the gears on the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, make all of the foolish noise you need and nonetheless have a refined day by day driver when you’re performed being a hooligan. It’s extra enjoyable than the BMW possibility, and gained’t rattle your brains out just like the AMG. This S3 is a candy spot you’ll be able to lean into in case you’re not making an attempt to step into one thing as critical because the RS 3, however nonetheless need a automotive that may plant a smile in your face every time you drive it.