Audi S3 Saloon 2.0 TFSI S tronic17 | 03 | 2014Scotcars rating

    Audi takes its A3 saloon and turns it into a stunning four-wheel drive rocketship

    HOLD ON TO your hats: Audi has just produced a barnstorming 296bhp S3 version of its A3 saloon. Powered by VW Group's 2.0-litre turbocharged engine — the same powerplant found in the S3 Hatch and S3 Sportback — and fitted with Audi's iconic quattro four-wheel drive, it's a belter. (Watch our video of the new Audi S3 Saloon)

    If you need to impress anyone, it'll catapult from standstill to 62mph in 4.9secs, if you have the seven-speed DSG S tronic paddle-shift automatic transmission. Opt for the six-speed manual, and you'll take another 0.4secs.

    Interestingly, the S tronic 'box also improves the combined fuel consumption by 0.5mpg to 40.9mpg and that, allied to the fact it has slightly lower CO2 emissions — 159g/km — means it's likely to be the principal seller.

    As you would expect, the quattro system ensures the S3 sticks to the road like glue. There's a seriously impressive amount of grip and traction, which means you can floor the throttle, step on the brakes or heave the steering mid-corner, and it'll hold its line. It is very impressive.

    Such is the ingenuity of the most modern version of Audi's iconic 4WD system, that in a fraction of a second it can work out which wheels have traction, and send the power to them.

    The benefit of that? In simple terms, you can accelerate hard in conditions that would see other cars pirouetting backwards into a ditch. Again, think of our average wet, cold and icy Scottish winter, and for me quattro is a must-have.

    Related: Roadtest — Audi RS Q3

    And don't be mistaken by thinking the S3 saloon is just an S3 hatch with a boot: it isn't. The S3 saloon sits on a 35mm longer wheelbase and a fractionally broader track, and that combination makes the car even more well-planted to the tarmac.

    The S3 saloon is instantly identifiable as being different to the rest of the A3 saloon range: but the differences, in typical Audi fashion, are subtle.

    It sits 25mm lower, and the car's suspension geometry has been fine-tuned: the result? Hmmm … some people might tend to find it too firm. Me? Well, I've always liked Audi's firm ride, so I was perfectly at ease in it.

    In typical Audi fashion, you can select from several suspension and throttle-setting modes: efficiency, comfort, auto and dynamic. What's really great — and yeh, ok, it's a bit of a boy's toy — but in dynamic mode the system opens a flap in the exhaust system to make it sound even more gruntier. Brill!

    Plus: as the auto gearbox flick through the gears, you're rewarded with a bassy woofle-and-rumble, which is always going to impress your passengers. In fact, the roarty blat-blat as it moves swiftly through the gears sounds like a touring car in the distance

    Inside four-seater the cabin? Well, it's typical Audi. Everything's exactly where you would expect it to be, and the quality of materials used remains the best in the industry. Plus there's Audi's MMI interface and climate control, sports seats, and the S-series' traditional flat-bottomed steering wheel.

    A handsome car, both inside and out, the S3 saloon is one of those cars you need to consider of you're looking at the VW Golf R, or the new BMW M235i. Drive all three, and I think you're going to face a tough choice.

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    Jim McGill

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £34,720 / £42,110
    Engine / Power: 4cyl 1984cc turbocharged / 296bhp
    How fast?: 0-62mph 4.9secs / Max 155mph
    How big/heavy?: L4469mm W1796mm excl mirrors) H1392mm / 1450kgs
    How thirsty/CO2?: 40.9mpg combined / 159g/km CO2
    InsGP/Road tax: n/a /Band n/a
    Alternatives: VW Golf R, BMW M235i

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