Audi S3 saloon review – the saloon body only enhances the appeal

Kinder on the eye, the saloon ultimately delivers the same competent driving experience as the hatch.

Evo rating
Price
from £38,000
  • Fast, beautifully built, huge grip
  • Numb steering

We might not all be familiar with Audi’s nomenclature. Since they started adding Es and Qs to their model names it’s become hard to keep up, let alone when the words Sportback or Ultra gets thrown in there too. The S3 Saloon, though, is pretty simple to get your head around. It’s Audi’s hot, but not hottest, Golf sized offering. The fact it’s a Saloon means it has 5 doors and boot.

This isn’t a completely new model, more of a facelift with a few small mechanical improvements. Read, more power. The A3 has always been a tidy, sharp looking car and this subtly tweaked one is equally dashing.

The current generation A3, based on the MQB platform, was the first time Audi had turned the A3 into a saloon. Before, it had just been a hatch and a cabriolet. The saloon body looks great, combined with the latest styling alterations and the sportier 'S' features; the latest S3 is an extremely handsome car

>Read our Volkswagen Golf R review here

evo Comment

'The new S3 Saloon rights many previous Audi wrongs, with crisp steering and a supple ride. It's not perfect though, and despite its similarity under the skin to the Volkswagen Golf R, it somehow falls short of delivering the engaging driving characteristics that make that car great.' Dan Prosser, Road Test Editor

  • Performance and 0-60 time > As strong as you'd expect for a turbocharged, all-wheel drive car - particularly with the optional S tronic dual-clutch gearbox. 
  • Engine and gearbox > 296bhp from a two-litre, turbocharged four cylinder. Haldex all-wheel drive normally sends power forwards, but can divert it to the rear. 
  • Ride and handling > Not much steering feel, but it's direct, the ride is better than many fast Audis of the past, and traction is strong. 
  • MPG and running costs > Claimed economy not too wide of the mark on a cruise, but use that power and the figures will quickly tumble. 
  • Prices, specs and rivals > The VW Golf R doesn't have a boot but similar dynamic makeup somehow delivers greater thrills for similar money.
  • Design > Possibly the most attractive A3 bodystyle, enhanced further with S3 details. Still appeals more to the head than the heart. 

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