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Audi A3 S3 TFSI Black Ed Quattro 4dr S Tronic Tech Pro

  • Automatic
  • Petrol
  • 34 mpg
  • 4 door saloon
  • 188 g/km CO2
  • 188 g/km CO2 emissions
  • 34 mpg Fuel efficiency
  • 4.7 secs 0 to 62 mph
  • 333 bhp Engine power

Ten Second Review

Audi's S3 has always championed subtlety, but over the years, some have seen this car's driving dynamics as being perhaps a touch too subtle. Those people might like the improved version of this fourth generation model, which offers sharper looks, extra power, the clever torque splitter from the RS3 and an even more appealing cabin. All without delivering the kind of showy exuberance of some of its rivals. There's a choice of five-door Sportback or Saloon body styles and either way, you get a very complete 333PS performance package that's cool, understated and very Audi.

Background

Once upon a time, a hot hatch didn't have to be a mature, sensible thing. That wasn't the point of buying one. You got a shopping rocket because it was fun - with just enough practicality to enable you to justify the purchase to your other half. With the S3 though, it was different. Here was an aspirational premium GTi with a price tag to match. A hot hatch for people who ordinarily, would have grown out of hot hatches We first saw it way back in 1999 at a launch over-shadowed by an Audi TT sportscar that shared the S3's quattro 4WD system and got a slightly pokier version of its 2.0-litre turbocharged unit. That's a basic mechanical configuration the German brand has stuck to ever since - but of course power has spiralled since then. The early 210PS output figure was quickly upgraded to 225PS in the first generation version, then boosted again to 265PS for the MK2 model introduced in 2006. By 2013 though, it was clear that even that kind of power was going to be insufficient for admission into the premier league of hot hatches, so the 2.0-litre turbo engine was redeveloped from the ground up to make 300PS and plumbed into the lighter, stiffer MQB platform that had offered so much extra agility and efficiency to more mundane third generation A3 models. A lot's changed though, since 2013 in the super hatch segment. Cars like the Mercedes-AMG A 35 and latest versions of the BMW M135i and Honda Civic Type R now offer buyers arguably more exciting ways to own a practical sporting car with around 300PS at this price point. So Audi has done what it can to make Sportback and Saloon versions of this S3 a lot smarter and a little more engaging to drive. Here, we look at the improved 333PS version of this fourth generation model, introduced in Spring 2024.

Driving Experience

At first glance, you might wonder what's really changed here. The EA888 2.0-litre TFSI petrol turbo powerplant is the same as the unit's that long been used by this model. It's basically the same engine used right across the VW Group in products as diverse as the Skoda Octavia vRS, the Volkswagen T-Roc R and the CUPRA Ateca, usually allied to 4WD. With this revised S3 though, this engine's turbo has been tweaked to boost its output to 333PS (23PS more than before). There's 20Nm more torque too (420Nm in total). But all of this improves the 62mph sprint time by only 01.s - to 4.7s; top speed is still limited to 155mph. A much bigger change though, is the addition of a torque splitter borrowed from the RS3, which allows for fully variable torque distribution between the rear wheels at speed through the bends. Engage the 'drive select' drive mode system's added 'Dynamic Plus' drive setting and that torque splitter will send as much power as possible to the rear axle and then to the rear wheel on the outside of a corner. As for other improvements as part of this update, well there are bigger brakes, changes have been made to the progressive steering system (previously rather feel-less) and redesigned suspension wishbones with stiffer pivot bearings have been added; these allow for more negative wheel camber. Plus the seven-speed dual clutch paddleshift 's tronic' auto gearbox has a more heavily compressed clutch plate, enabling it to cope with higher torque loads from rest; apparently, shift times are now halved under full-throttle. All of which should continue to make this car superbly easy to drive quickly and precisely. A quattro 4WD system is of course standard and adaptive damping's fitted with top-spec. As before, the engine note changes with the mode you choose from the standard Audi drive select system - relatively hushed for everyday journeys and long distance cruising; and crisper and more bass-heavy for more challenging drives.

Design and Build

As before, there's a choice of two S3 body styles - 5-door Sportback and 4-door Saloon. Both get a light visual update with this revised model: a restyled front grille and redesigned front side intakes, along with a smarter front spoiler. The headlamps are revised too and include 24-pixel daytime running lights with four selectable visual signatures. the rear bumper design's specific to this model and the rear diffuser incorporates four round tail pipes, which can optionally be ordered with a titanium silencer. As before, a pronounced shoulder line extends from the headlights to the rear lights, below which the body curves inwards - an element of Audi design that places a stronger emphasis on the wheel arches. Aluminium door mirror surrounds confirm membership of the S Series. The body's lowered by 15mm over an ordinary A3, courtesy of the S suspension. Inside, where there are the usual sporty S design cues, the changes with this facelifted model are uber-subtle. There are reshaped air vents, a redesigned gear shifter, standard ambient lighting and a smart backlit laser-cut fabric panel for the front doors. Audi's 'Virtual Cockpit plus' instrument screen is of course standard and the 10.1-inch central MMI monitor has been updated in various ways, allowing it to be customised with a wider range of applications, including Amazon Alexa. This MMI system is permanently connected to the internet, with high speed access via an embedded eSIM, which means you can create in the car a WiFi hotspot and access things like online music streaming, online traffic information and hybrid radio. This central screen's also your access to an audio upgrade that's now provided by Sonos, a 3D system. The rear seat is comfortable for two adults but can't slide as it would in Audi's alternative RS Q3. Boot space is compromised by the 4WD system and is rated at 370-litres for the saloon or 325-litres for the Sportback, the latter offering a seats-down total of 1,145-litres.

Market and Model

Let's get to the pricing, pitched from around £47,000 for the S3 Sportback, with a further £500 premium for the alternative Saloon variant. There are two trim levels - 'Black Edition' or (for around £5,500 more) top 'Vorsprung'. That's reasonable value compared to competing BMW M135i xDrive, Mercedes-AMG A 35 4MATIC and Honda Civic Type R hot hatch models. We'd hoped that the asking figures this time round might have included the adaptive damping system that most S3 customers want, but that variable set-up - Audi calls it 'S suspension with damper control' - is standard only on the priciest 'Vorsprung' trim level. Otherwise you'll have to stay with standard S-specific passive suspension, unless you pay more. Standard equipment includes the sports styling and interior features described in our 'Design' section. And all S3 models get a complete portfolio of standard camera safety kit. Audi pre sense front, swerve assist with turn assist and lane departure warning all have the potential to prevent accidents. S3 'Vorsprung' models expand on this list with features such as lane change and exit warnings, the rear cross-traffic and park assist systems and adaptive cruise assist, which maintains the speed and distance to the vehicle in front and assists with lane guidance by means of gentle interventions in the steering.

Cost of Ownership

The Audi S3 is never going to be a notably cheap car to run. You don't buy a 333PS all-wheel drive petrol-powered sports car that wears a ritzy badge if counting the pennies is your prime motivation, but the S3 shouldn't be a ruinously expensive ownership experience either. The outgoing model was always a low depreciator, used buyers attracted to the smart image and surprisingly modest fuel thirst. The latest S3 certainly prioritises efficiency in its engineering. High-tech features like the Audi valvelift system (which adjusts the lift of the intake valves as required to ensure optimum combustion chamber filling) and comprehensive thermal management measures, help to strike this impressive balance between ebullience and efficiency. As does the seven-speed S tronic paddleshift auto gearbox, with its lightning-fast gear shifts and economy-conscious freewheeling function. As a result, this car in both its forms is capable of a pretty impressive set of WLTP-rated efficiency figures; 33.2mpg for the Sportback version on the combined cycle (it's 34.4mpg for the Saloon), with a CO2 reading of up to 193g/km for the Sportback and 186g/km for the Saloon.

Summary

No one actually needs an S3 - but then no one actually needs a hot hatch either - so if you can afford to get yourself a shopping rocket, why not buy one that makes you feel the way this car does? It's certainly the sort of sports hatch that might well appeal if you owned all the loudest and fastest GTIs in the Nineties and Noughties and now just want something that can do it all without drawing attention to itself. The improved version of this fourth generation model delivers this subtlety with a little more driving involvement, but there are still critics who'll point out that it could be more engaging - that it could grab you a little more by the scruff of the neck. In some ways though, pointing that out probably says more about the tester than the S3. To be frank, it never has been that sort of ride. Where this car still scores is in its massive capability and its beautifully engineered feel-good factor. The joy of ownership here doesn't necessarily come from clipping apexes at the limit of grip, although the S3 will indulge you in that way if you want. Instead, it comes from owning something jewel-like and exclusive, a very, very quick car that doesn't overly-immerse you in the business of going... well... very, very quickly. The thinking person's superhatch? You're looking at it right here.

  • Automatic start/stop system with recuperation
  • Audi Phonebox light with wireless charging
  • DAB Digital radio
  • USB ports with charging function in the rear
  • Anthracite grey Audi rings (front and rear)
  • Black accents front and rear bumpers including air inlets
  • Black accents in front grille and frame
  • Black accents window trims strips
  • Exterior model badging
  • Illuminated door sills with aluminium inserts at the front with S logo
  • Rear boot
  • Rear side wing doors
  • S grille
  • S3 front bumper with S specific air intake grilles
  • 12V socket and storage compartment in front centre console
  • 3 spoke flat bottomed leather multifunction sport steering wheel with gear shift paddles
  • Black cloth headlining
  • Fine Nappa leather upholstery with front sports seats S embossed logo
  • Front and rear centre armrest in artificial leather
  • Manual boot compartment lid
  • S badging on the steering wheel
  • Stainless steel pedals and front footrest in black
  • Aluminium interior elements pack - A3 Saloon
  • Extended ambient lighting pack Pro - A3
  • Storage package - A3 Saloon
  • Technology package pro - A3
  • 3x3 point rear seat belts
  • Driver and front passenger airbag with passenger airbag deactivation
  • First aid kit with warning triangle and 2 safety vests
  • Front side airbags with head airbags and interaction airbag
  • Pre-sense front with pedestrian and cyclist detection
  • Seatbelt monitoring
  • Tyre pressure loss indicator
  • Anti theft alarm
  • Anti-theft wheel bolts
  • Electronically operated child locks
  • Immobiliser
  • Remote control central locking
  • HC+NOx: N
  • Particles: N
  • Standard Euro Emissions: EURO 6
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Comb: 188
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Comb - TEH: 189
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Comb - TEL: 186
  • Camshaft: DOHC
  • Catalytic Convertor: True
  • CC: 1984
  • Cylinder Layout: IN-LINE
  • Engine Layout: FRONT TRANSVERSE
  • Fuel Delivery: TURBO DIRECT INJECTION
  • Gears: 7 SPEED
  • Transmission: SEMI-AUTO
  • EC Directive 1999/100/EC Applies: False
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Comb: 8.2
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Comb - TEH: 8.3
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Comb - TEL: 8.2
  • WLTP - MPG - Comb: 34
  • WLTP - MPG - Comb - TEH: 34
  • WLTP - MPG - Comb - TEL: 34.4
  • Alternative Fuel Qualifying: False
  • Badge Engine CC: 2.0
  • Badge Power: 333
  • Based On ID: N
  • Coin Description: TFSI Quattro
  • Coin Series: S3 Black Ed[TechPro]
  • Generation Mark: 4
  • Safety Concerns: False
  • Special Edition: False
  • Special Order: False
  • Vehicle Homologation Class: M1
  • 0 to 62 mph (secs): 4.7
  • Engine Power - BHP: 333
  • Engine Power - KW: 245
  • Engine Power - PS: True
  • Engine Power - RPM: 5600
  • Engine Torque - LBS.FT: 310
  • Engine Torque - MKG: 42.8
  • Engine Torque - NM: 420
  • Engine Torque - RPM: 2100
  • Top Speed: 155
  • Emissions Test Cycle: WLTP
  • RDE Certification Level: RDE 2
  • Alloys: True
  • Space Saver: False
  • Tyre Size Front: 235/35 R19
  • Tyre Size Rear: 235/35 R19
  • Tyre Size Spare: TYRE REPAIR KIT
  • Wheel Style: 5 TWIN SPOKE
  • Wheel Type: 19" ALLOY
  • Height: N
  • Height (including roof rails): 1433
  • Length: 4506
  • Wheelbase: 2630
  • Width: N
  • Width (including mirrors): 1984
  • Fuel Tank Capacity (Litres): 55
  • Gross Vehicle Weight: 2035
  • Luggage Capacity (Seats Down): N
  • Luggage Capacity (Seats Up): 325
  • Max. Loading Weight: 500
  • Max. Towing Weight - Braked: N
  • Max. Towing Weight - Unbraked: N
  • Minimum Kerbweight: 1535
  • No. of Seats: 5
  • Turning Circle - Kerb to Kerb: 11.1