Pocket-sized luxury hot rods are dime a dozen, but perhaps it is only the Audi S3 that could make even the geekiest gearhead blush. After a well-deserved round of freshening up, Ingolstadt’s smallest sports sedan not only sees a more angular grille a la the 2018 Audi S4, but also performance tweaks and yes, even more interior tech. In short, you can expect plenty of straight line performance, good quality interior, and full of everyday usability. In short, you can expect plenty of straight line performance, good quality interior, and everyday usability.
At a glance, the chiselled good-looker continues to be handsomely understated, balancing on just the right ratio of chunky brawn and sleek curves. This sportiness extends to the insides, where you’ll find a cockpit that seemingly taunts you to take it out for a hair-raising spin. In place of production sports seats are optional S Sport seats with integrated head restraints and shoulder inserts for a cocooned drive.
Analog dials make way for every must-have in modern cars right now: digital screens. Audi’s virtual cockpit is famously simple to navigate, and all your driving relevant information — and more — will be depicted on a 12.3-inch high resolution screen.
An advanced 2.0-litre inline four TFSI engine sends the car raring with 290hp and 380Nm of torque, bringing you to 100kph in only 4.8 seconds and onto a top speed of 250kph. Mated to the racing-inspired S tronic dual-clutch transmission from the second-gen A3, the shifts are quick, clean and seamless, although you don’t always get the downshifts when you want it to.
Expect secure, safe and predictable handling with Audi’s quattro four wheel drive system — you’ll be able to use every single horsepower available, especially in wet conditions. Steering is improved in this S3, and while there still isn’t tons of feel, still remains precise, clean and well-weighted.
It’s a compact car with a high-output engine, after all, but deceptively so. Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, it appears to be a sleeper, but pushes as hard as you want it to. The dampers are passive so nothing happens between comfort and dynamic mode, but it remains extremely engaging, and gets you into apexes well. The only downside, really, is an obvious lack of rear room space for proper adults, but that problem can be easily solved by keeping the tall folks in front. The boot, however, sits surprisingly on the large side for its segment.
So does it deliver and entertain as a driver’s car? If anything, this is a car that will take you from zero to hero with no fuss at all, and when you’re done showing off, be tamed without so much as a fight back. It’s small and compact, so it’s efficient and dynamic enough for any adventure, any time you’re up for one.
(All images: Audi)