Reviews

2019 Audi S3 review – as the posh hot hatch enters its twilight years, is it still worth a look? - Prices, specs and rivals

The Audi S3 is fast and well built, but lacks the character or outright handling brilliance so many in this class portray

Evo rating
  • Grip, composure, quality
  • A safe pair of hands, and feeling old compared to fresh rivals

Interior and tech

Despite the A3’s relative age, the S3’s interior is still a major selling point. Well built and finished with beautifully resolved detailing, you’re nevertheless left with the impression that nothing’s there for show or embellishment.

The S3 is available with Audi’s Virtual Cockpit; a 12.3-inch TFT screen placed where you’d expect to see the rev counter and speed dial. The screen displays an animated set of dials but can also show a number of different options, from what’s on the radio to vehicle data. What’s best is having a map presented right in front of you; zoomed in to just the right scale, it can give you an idea about what sort of corner is coming up and whether there will be a straight soon. It’s like having a co-driver read notes to you, allowing you to drive unknown roads like you know them intimately. The notion of a TFT screen ahead of the driver is not an unusual feature in 2019, but Audi’s virtual cockpit remains one of the best in the business, and works extremely well with the infotainment system.

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The shift paddles look as if they’re made from aluminium (sadly, they’re not), unlike the pedals and footrest, which are. The sports seat in the front boast big lateral wings and have extendable squab cushions.

The S3’s drive assist systems are about as good as they get, too. Particularly impressive is ‘Audi pre sense front’ which, in conjunction with the adaptive cruise control, will bring the car to a stop autonomously from speeds below 19mph in the event of an impending collision. Further safety technology includes the usual blind spot warnings, active lane assist to keep your course straight and true and camera-based traffic sign recognition. Options include a park assist system, a variable headlight range control, LED headlights and a large panoramic glass sunroof. Dual-zone electronic climate control and the storage package are fitted as standard.

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