While SEAT have been busy reducing the Leon SC’s door count to three, Audi have been busy increasing the number of doors on their fastest A3. The result is the new S3 Sportback.
What Is It?
Depending on your point of view it’s either a more practical version of the new S3 or it’s a faster version of the A3 Sportback. With 297bhp and 380Nm the S3 Sportback is properly quick, with a 0-62mph time of 5.0 seconds from the optional S Tronic dual-clutch transmission.
Although the 1,984cc turbocharged engine is the same size as the last S3 Sportback, that’s all it has in common. Power is sent to all four-wheels via a Haldex system, with a six-speed manual gearboxas standard. Expect most buyers to opt for the semi-automatic S Tronic because it’s half a second quicker to reach 62mph and more economical (40.9mpg against 40.4).
What’s Special About It?
The new S3 Sportback is 78kg lighter than the old model with 5kg of that saving coming from the engine alone.
Apart from being the fastest Sportback model, the S3 is packed full of new technology. Audi’s Drive Select system is fitted as standard, allowing the driver to choose various configurations for the throttle mapping, steering weight, S Tronic transmission and optional magnetic ride. While xenon headlights are standard you can opt for Audi’s new all-LED lighting.
Drive Select is just the tip of the iceberg. Audi’s new MMI system allows all sorts of optional tech, from improved sat-nav to multimedia connectivity. Then there’s the safety tech such as adaptive cruise, side assist, lane assist, traffic sign recognition and even park assist.
How Much Is It?
Audi are saying that the new S3 Sportback will be no more expensive than the model it replaces, despite the extra performance and kit, so that means it’ll start at round £31,500. It goes on sale in April after it’s Geneva Motor Show début, with deliveries expected to start in September.
The question is – if you want a fast Audi hatchback should you buy one now? Or wait for the next RS3 Sportback that may follow in a couple of years?