Squeezing prodigious power into a relatively compact bodyshell is a tried and tested formula for road-going fun. With a hefty 306bhp under the bonnet Audi’s new S3 Sportback and Saloon look set to deliver smiles aplenty.
Promising blisteringly fast 4.8 second 0-62mph times, the new duo, from £37,900 for the hatchback and £38,465 for the saloon, use a tweaked version of the same 2.0-litre turbocharged EA888 petrol engine you’ll find used in the Golf GTi. No bad thing.
But here the power is channelled through a seven-speed S tronic auto box (no manual option) married to a quattro all-wheel drive system that ensures high levels of traction, whatever the weather. A hydraulic multi-clutch plate – located ahead of the rear axle – automatically shares torque between front and rear axles, as opposed to the Torsen-based centre-diff system used on other Quattro models.
Inside, there’s a freshly redesigned cabin with the usual mix of sober but high-quality materials…
In an attempt to strike a balance between outright sportiness and day-to-day comfort, the chassis has been lowered by 15 mm and partnered by a four-link rear axle, as well as a quad of fast-acting, variable valve-actuated oil dampers.
Unsurprisingly, given the concept’s sporting intent, ventilated disc brakes are the order of the day, along with 18in graphite alloy wheels (19in gloss black rims if you opt for the higher-spec ‘Vorsprung’ versions, due later in the year).
Inside, there’s a freshly redesigned cabin with the usual mix of sober but high-quality materials, deployed to create a supremely Teutonic (i.e. functional) aesthetic. The digital 10.25-inch Audi Virtual Cockpit presents info to the driver, a 12.3in version performing the same job in the ‘Vorsprung’ versions. The driver interface is via a sensibly proportioned 10.1-inch touch screen, part of Audi’s third-gen modular infotainment platform.
As is increasingly the way, there are plenty of driving aids to ensure you stay safe out on the road including swerve/turn assist and a lane departure warning in case you start dozing. Want an adaptive cruise and park assistance systems? You’ll have to, er, spring for the ‘Vorsprung’ variants.
In terms of space, the newcomers are just a few centimetres wider and longer than their predecessors, but both now share the same wheelbase which we’re told makes for a bit more shoulder and elbow room than the outgoing models.
Distinguishing new from old out on the road will be a simple matter. If the dramatically sculpted wheels don’t give the game away just look out for the gigantic rhomboid-patterned grille, LED headlights and a new, altogether more purposeful shoulder line, stretching from the headlights to the rear lights.