Prices, specs and rivals
Priced at £38k, the S3 saloon is over £4k dearer than the three-door hatch and £2k more than the five-door version. Splashing out for the saloon grants you an extra 45-litres of boot space over the hatch models.
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Standard equipment levels help justify the higher price tag, with Magnetic Ride, LED headlights and cruise control included. The sports front seats are leather clad and heated which lends the cabin a premium feel along with the aluminum inserts and inlays. For another £1500 you can upgrade to Black Edition trim which includes exterior and interior elements in black while a Bang & Olufsen stereo is included, too.
The S3’s closest rival was the Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG, but it’s since gone out of production, hence competition largely comes from hot hatchbacks. BMW’s M140i and the Mercedes-AMG A45 join the S3 in the small premium category. The former is unique in class sitting on a rear-driven platform, and it’s more keenly priced at £34k, but it’s getting long in the tooth. Albeit more expensive at £40k, the A45 offers Audi RS3-baiting levels of performance, but like the BMW it’s due for replacement with the next A-class due in 2019.
The S3 is alone in the miniature sports saloon segment, cross shop on price however and an interesting rival emerges. Larger in size and higher in price, Kia’s Stinger GT-S is entertaining and capable, plus it comes loaded with equipment at £41k. Alfa Romeo’s Giulia Veloce, an eCoty winner, is one size up from the S3 but costs the same and, like the Kia, it’s well equipped too, but is marginally slower than the S3.