Savouring 300PS thrills while also satisfying the demands of a family will be easier to accomplish in the all-new, five-door Audi S3 Sportback. With a longer wheelbase than both its predecessor and the three-door S3, the new high performance hatchback variant will give even more priority to passengers and luggage, without giving any less to compelling pace, or surprising economy. Despite its further improved multi-tasking capabilities over the S3, the capacity for 40mpg-plus remains very much undiminished.
- Totally new 2.0 TFSI engine with turbocharging and direct injection
- Ample power and minimal consumption: 300PS and 380 Nm, but also up to 40.9mpg
- From zero to 62mph in 5.0 seconds (with S tronic transmission)
- Optional all-LED headlights and Audi magnetic ride
- Available to order in the UK from April, first deliveries in September
- UK pricing will be no higher than outgoing model despite performance and equipment gains
Due to make its debut at the Palexpo in Geneva next month (March 7 to 17) before opening for UK ordering in April and reaching its first UK customers in September, the latest S3 Sportback derives its 300PS and 380Nm from a brand new long-stroke 2.0-litre TFSI engine which shares only its 1,984cc displacement with its predecessor. Peak power is available at 5,500rpm, and peak torque between 1,800 and 5,500 rpm, and when linked to the S tronic twin-clutch transmission the S3 Sportback can use these to deliver a 5.0-second sprint to 62mph on the way to a governed 155mph top speed (5.5 seconds with the manual transmission). Combined fuel economy stands at 40.9mpg (manual 40.4mpg).
The powerful four-cylinder engine bristles with new technologies which help to push the S3’s boundaries in terms of both output and economy. These include the use of both direct and indirect injection, the integration of the exhaust manifold into the cylinder head and the use of innovative thermal management for faster warm-up. Two balancer shafts rotating at twice the speed of the crankshaft take care of refinement, but thanks to an electromechanical actuator in the bulkhead the cabin is filled with just the right amount of sound, with just the right sporting tone. The exhaust system also includes a sound flap that opens at certain engine speed ranges to give this even greater depth.
Despite its complexity and high output, the new 2.0 TFSI weighs just 148 kilograms – more than five kilograms less than the previous engine. This is just one example of the many steps taken to shave a total of 70kg from the kerb weight of the previous S3 Sportback, taking the total to 1,445kg. The lion’s share of the weight savings are on account of the body with its ultra-high-strength steel passenger cell and light aluminium wings and bonnet.
The all-new modular transverse platform (MQB) underpins the new S3 Sportback, and enables the front axle with its aluminium subframe and pivot bearings to be shifted forward 52 millimetres compared with the previous model. The new arrangement helps to effect an even more favourable axle load distribution of 59% to 41% front-to-rear.
As is customary for ‘S’ models the S3 Sportback is quattro permanent all-wheel drive-equipped. The latest incarnation of the system, with redesigned multi-plate clutch, enables the sophisticated S sports suspension with its McPherson-based front and four-link rear configuration and wider front and rear tracks to discharge 300PS without drama. It also gives the new variable ratio progressive steering system the freedom to deliver improved weighting, feedback and feel when cruising and attacking tight corners. In the straight-ahead position the new system draws no power from the alternator, helping to further improve fuel economy.
As an option, handling characteristics can be brought into even sharper focus by Audi magnetic ride, an electromagnetic damper control system using pistons in which a synthetic hydrocarbon oil containing microscopically small magnetic particles circulates. When a coil applies a voltage, the particles align perpendicular to the direction of flow of the oil, impeding its flow through the channels in the pistons to tauten cornering attitude.
The control unit constantly analyses the condition of the road and the driver’s style, repeatedly adapting the damper forces within milliseconds. The driver can choose between three modes. The new S3 is balanced in normal mode and tightly connected to the road in sport mode. Steering response becomes even quicker, and yaw movements are largely suppressed.
The brakes deliver the firm but progressive pedal feel expected of an S model. The front discs are internally vented and measure 340 millimetres in diameter. Their black-painted calipers are branded with S3 logos, and can be coloured red if preferred. The new electromechanical parking brake, which the driver operates via a button, is integrated into the rear axle brake system. The latest evolution of the ESC electronic stabilisation control intercedes very precisely.
Standard Audi drive select adaptive dynamics
Audi drive select is standard in the new Audi S3. It allows the driver to alter the characteristics of the throttle pedal response, the boost of the progressive steering, the shift points of the optional S tronic transmission and the configuration of the optional magnetic ride system at the touch of a button. A choice of comfort, auto, dynamic, efficiency or individual modes is available, and in the latter, drivers can compose their own preferred profile within certain limits.
In efficiency mode, the function of the standard dual-zone climate control, the cruise control, the adaptive cruise control and the adaptive light is adjusted for optimal fuel consumption. In this case, the S tronic transmission switches to coasting mode when the driver takes his or her foot off the throttle pedal.
As expected the taut and muscular body of the new Audi S3 Sportback incorporates the time-honoured S model hallmarks. The S-specific single-frame grille has an aluminium-look finish and matt platinum grey inserts. Its horizontal double bars also have an aluminium-look finish. The newly designed bumpers feature aluminium-look double ribs integrated into the lateral air inlets. Pronounced edges frame the large air inlets with high-gloss black honeycomb inserts. Additional implied air openings are located close to the wheels.
In profile, the aluminium-look exterior mirrors and the pronounced side sills catch the eye. The rear bumper has also been redesigned. The platinum grey diffuser houses the exhaust system’s four oval tailpipes, which feature chrome tips. A large roof spoiler generates downforce on the rear axle.
S badges adorn the rear and the single-frame grille. Highlights among the 14 colours available for the Audi S3 are the exclusive crystal-effect finishes Panther Black and Estoril Blue.
The standard xenon headlights with their LED daytime running lamps incorporate Audi adaptive swivelling cornering lights for improved corner illumination. These can be upgraded with special lighting functions for urban, extra urban and highway driving, as well as for junctions and tourist attractions. When combined with the front-facing camera, the light-dark boundary of the headlights is automatically and steplessly adjusted for substantially improved visibility and safety.
Optional all-LED headlights
As an option which breaks new ground in the compact class, an upgrade to LED headlights will also be offered. Previously only available in full-size models, their low beams are generated in two free-form reflectors with a total of nine high-performance LED chips. Ten high-performance LEDs in the matt aluminum trim provide the high beams. Depending on the features chosen, the high beams are switched on automatically and LED cornering lights illuminate tight corners. Inter-urban, motorway and tourist attraction lighting can also be incorporated. The all-weather lights enhance safety in fog or snow.
More passenger and luggage space
The exterior’s sporting overtones are of course carried over into the interior. Its controls are clear and intuitive, as in every Audi, and quality is exceptional. There is an even more generous supply of passenger space, helped by the 35mm increase in length over the three-door S3 between the front and rear axles. The luggage compartment offers 380 litres of capacity in the basic configuration, 15 litres more than the S3. This expands to 1,220 litres with the seats folded down.
The instrument dials are grey, the needles white. Another S-specific feature can be found on the rev counter, which now includes a boost pressure indicator. The driver’s information system with rest recommendation is standard; the power-retractable on-board monitor powers up to display a special S3 screen when the ignition is turned. The optional leather multifunction sports steering wheel has been redesigned with the flat-bottomed rim. In models equipped with S tronic, it also has aluminium-look shift paddles. The pedals and footrest are also in aluminium.
The sports seats with pull-out seat cushions are also a new development. The seat coverings are a mix of Velvet leather and Fine Nappa leather in UK specification S3 Sportback models, with Alcantara / Leather a no cost option. Audi also offers optional S sport seats with integrated head restraints and diamond quilting.
The interior of the S3 Sportback, including the headlining, is in black with contrasting stitching. S logos adorn the door sill strips, the steering wheel, the gear/selector lever knob and the instruments. Dual-zone electronic climate control and the storage package are standard.
The new S3 Sportback can be equipped with all of the groundbreaking mobile infotainment and driver assistance solutions available for the model series. Audi connect is the name for a broad range of tailored online services that network drivers with their surroundings and rapidly supply them with key information in an easy-to-comprehend format. A new, even more sophisticated version of Audi connect will be available for the S3 Sportback later in 2013.
Audi has designed a variety of infotainment elements for using the new services, topped by MMI navigation plus with MMI touch. The high-end system boasts a super-flat, power-retractable, seven-inch monitor and a new operating concept in which MMI touch is integrated into the rotary pushbutton. The Audi Phone Box connects mobile phones to the vehicle in a convenient way, and the sound system from Bang & Olufsen offers exceptional sound reproduction, with LED light guides accentuating the woofers in the doors.
The assistance systems in the S3 come directly from the full-size class. The range begins with adaptive cruise control, which when combined with the safety system Audi pre sense front brings the car to a stop autonomously from speeds below 19mph, and continues through Audi side assist, Audi active lane assist and camera-based traffic sign recognition to the park assist system. There are also a number of convenience options, including adaptive light (also with variable headlight range control), the advanced key and the panoramic glass sunroof.