Audi ‘S’ models have traditionally offered plenty of speed but not much in the way of involvement. Sadly, this tradition continues with the S3.
Unlike the handling, there’s little to fault the S3′s engine. That begins with the sound, which is one of the best-sounding of that size – it’s quiet and refined at low speeds but becomes deep and racy as you mash on the accelerator. It’s definitely not the loudest in class – the Mercedes-AMG A45 takes that title – but it’s a nice halfway point.
You'd never guess how fast this can go around a corner just by looking at it
And it’s quick – the 310hp unit is less peaky than before and faster to accelerate – its sub-five second 0-62 mph time takes half a second from the old car. It’s also more frugal judging by the official figures – combined fuel economy is more than 40mpg, and its CO2 output is lower too. All this, and you get a family car that’s faster accelerating than Ferraris and other supercars of 20 years ago. Impressive.
While dynamically extremely polished, the S3′s handling is more quick and secure rather than fun and involving.
There’s huge reserves of grip and good traction, but you’d be less keen on the numb steering. It steers quickly, just without transmitting much information to the driver. The ride too, though it’s better than the old car.
While the S3 might not offer the same levels of driver enjoyment as the BMW M135i, its four-wheel-drive system means it is extremely effective on wet and slippery UK roads. Unlike the BMW, which sends power only to its rear wheels, the Audi sends power through all-four for superb levels of grip and a safe feel.