There’s about to be a new member in the 300PS Hot Hatch Society. The latest Audi S3, set to be unveiled in Paris next week, will just meet minimum entry requirements with an output of 300PS from its TFSI engine.
300PS is a conveniently round number but that’s 297bhp in old money. Sticking with PS for now, the S3 is 35PS up on the last model and only 40PS short of the 2.5-litre 5-pot RS3 uber-hatch that was based on the last-gen A3. Torque is up by 30Nm to 380Nm (or 280lb/ft).
While the new S3 may share the same turbocharged 2.0-litre layout as the old model, the engine has been heavily revised. New developments include better management of heat to improve fuel efficiency when cold and when running on full throttle. New materials make the 4-cylinder engine both stronger and lighter and the 2.0 TFSI now tips the scales at 1485kg less than before. As with the standard A3, lightweight materials mean big weight savings over the old model. The S3 now weighs 60kg less than before, with a 28kg saving in the body shell alone contributing to the lower kerb weight of 1,395kg.
With lower weight and a more efficient engine the S3 is now rated at 40.9mpg by the EU boffins, with CO2 emissions down to 159g/km for the S-tronic dual-clutch automatic. Sadly the manual version is rated at 162g/km, placing it in a higher tax band than the S-tronic.
With all of that power and torque the Audi S3 can hit 62mph in only 5.1 seconds, helped by the Quattro all-wheel drive setup. In normal driving conditions the S3 only uses the front wheels but as soon as it detects any slip it diverts power to the rear with an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch. Top speed is limited to 155mph.
Visual changes include four chromed exhaust pipes, aluminium-effect mirror caps and 5×2 spoke 18-inch wheels. Xenon headlights with LED DRLs are standard but a new option is a full-LED headlight system similar to the technology used by Audi’s Le Mans racers.
The Audi S3 will be available to order later this year with deliveries expected early in 2013. UK prices aren’t yet confirmed but in Germany the S3 will cost €38,900, equivalent to £31,000 at today’s exchange rates. V.A.T. is slightly lower in Germany (19%) so there seems to be little chance of the Audi S3 sneaking in under the £30,000 barrier.