Spy shots

2020 Audi S3 Sportback and saloon out in the open

The next Audi S3 is on its way to rival the A35, M135i and Golf R

Audi has been spied putting the final touches on its new S3 Sportback and S3 saloon models before launching them later this year. This fourth generation model is unlikely to deviate from the template it created back in 1999, with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, all-wheel drive and ‘premium’ overtones at its core.

Like other Audi S models, the new S3 will share its styling and interior with lesser S-Line models, differing only with the trademark quad-exhaust outlets and a larger brake package behind an array of different wheel options. The S3 will be available in both the five-door hatchback and saloon forms seen here, although like with the standard A3, three-door hatchback and Cabriolet models have been given the chop. 

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What will be more distinct from lesser A3s is the powertrain, which is expected to pack somewhere around 300bhp from the 2-litre turbocharged petrol engine, connected to the usual combination of a dual-clutch transmission and Haldex-style all-wheel drive system. 

While the S3 has always been a performance-orientated package, the RS3 above has kept it from evolving much over the last three generations, in the process creating a sweet spot in the market which rivals from Mercedes-AMG and BMW have only recently reacted to with the A35 and M135i. Historically, it’s the Volkswagen Golf R that represents the S3’s biggest rival, despite sharing much of its hardware under the skin.

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This new S3 will probably continue the usual path, combining its high quality and high tech interior with just enough performance to look desirable over lesser A3 models. If it results in a hot hatchback that’s actually an interesting drive, it’ll be a bonus. 

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