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Audi S3 review - A quality fast hatch
If you’re a head-rules-heart kind of buyer, the S3 will probably suit you down to the ground, across which it will be impressively rapid and make a stirring noise, especially if you opt for the S-Tronic double-clutcher which will insert a naughty exhaust ‘thrrapp’ between full-throttle upshifts. It’s easy to live with, won’t punish you at the petrol pumps and comes with a full measure of Audiness in its build, finish and tech. If only it was a little more entertaining and involving to drive, it would be hard to resist indeed.
If your credit card is gravitating towards an S3 make sure you book a test drive of the VW Golf R as well. There’s not much between them in price but they are surprisingly different in character. The Audi is undoubtedly the classier proposition, but the Golf is a revelation on the road.
‘Despite a few reservations, we really like the Audi S3 and know many owners who feel the same. It may not be the last word in driver involvement but its effortless point-to-point pace, more than reasonable economy, everyday practicality and usability and superb build, finish and tech add up to something a bit special.’
David Vivian, Contributing Road Tester, evo
Performance and 0-60 time > The S3 manages an impressive 0-60mph time of just 4.8 seconds thanks to its slick S-tronic transmission.
Engine and gearbox > The standard manual six-speed gearbox features a lightweight magnesium casing. The optional S-Tronic twin-clutch transmission is more fuel efficient.
Ride and Handling > Grip levels are high on the S3 and the chassis balance is very neutral, unfortunately the S3 is more inclined to understeer than oversteer.
MPG and running costs >Audi claims a combined fuel economy figure of 40.4mpg and 162g/km of CO2 for the S-Tronic. The manual returns 40.9mpg and 159g/km. Real world figures are less impressive.
Prices, specs and rivals > With £30,440 as a starting price, the S3 opens itself up to plentiful competition. The BMW M135i and Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG are both strong rivals.
Interior and tech > Audi interiors are a major selling point, and the S3’s is no exception. Well built and with top notch fit and finish, you’re left with the impression that nothing’s there for show.
Design > Clean and simple, the aesthetic signifiers that show the car’s 300bhp are subtle compared to the competition.