In the past, one could feasibly write a performance Audi review without stepping foot in the car: it would have strong traction, zero steering feel, a poor ride, sludgy responses and eventually succumb to persistent, life-draining understeer. The cars would be fast but ultimately dissatisfying to drive.
Thankfully, the S3 Saloon cures several of these ills. Steering feel is still notable by its absence – while nicely weighted in Dynamic mode and always precise, there’s a pervading numbness as you wind on lock. Because the car steers quickly and faithfully it’s not a major issue to cross-country pace, but the lack of feel does detract from the fun factor.
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The ride is a pleasant surprise it retains traditional Audi firmness, but is rarely uncomfortable. The S3 proves to be an adept long-distance cruiser as a result, but the real benefit is on broken B-roads where the combination of pliancy and traction inspires confidence.
That feeling of security does make the Audi entertaining in certain situations. Strong grip encourages you to turn in harder, lean on the front end and get on the power early to make full use of the excellent traction. Even when the roads are streaming the S3 responds similarly albeit with a little more slip.