The new S3 features subtle styling tweaks, presenting a more refined image than some rivals
Interior features flat-bottomed wheel and more supportive seats
296bhp is delivered to the road through a six-speed manual gearbox and Haldex-style four-wheel-drive system
Front brakes are upgraded to include 340mm discs
Up to 41mpg is claimed by Audi for the new S3
The S3 weighs 70kg less than its predecessor, at 1445kg, providing it with a power-to-weight ratio of 204bhp per tonne
Standard kit includes Audi Drive Select, which allows the driver to alter the characteristics of the car
As expected, Ingolstadt’s keenly awaited five-door hatchback adopts the same engine and gearbox combination as its three-door sibling revealed last September, endowing it with higher levels of performance and greater overall efficiency.
Power hails from the latest evolution of Audi’s widely used EA888 engine. The turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder direct injection petrol unit produces 296bhp, providing it with a specific power output of 149bhp per litre. Torque peaks at 280lb ft on a band of revs from 1800 to 5500rpm, representing a 35bhp and 22lb ft increase on the older EA113 engine used by its predecessor.
The new engine is described as Audi’s most advanced four-cylinder production car engine to date. It runs 1.2 bar of turbocharger boost pressure, twin counterbalancing rotation shafts, a two-stage valve lift system with 30deg of camshaft adjustment on the inlet side and 60deg on the exhaust side, a new injection system to deliver fuel to each cylinder depending on throttle load and a 6800rpm redline. It’s also claimed to weigh 5kg less than the engine it replaces.
As with its predecessor, the new S3 Sportback receives a standard six-speed manual gearbox and Haldex-style multi-plate clutch four-wheel-drive system. A six-speed dual-clutch automatic S-tronic gearbox with remote steering wheel mounted shift paddles continues to be available as an option.
Clothed in a body that uses extensive amounts of aluminium, the new Audi is claimed to possess a kerb weight that undercuts the second-generation model by an impressive 70kg, at 1445kg, providing it with a power-to-weight ratio of 204bhp per tonne.
Audi quotes a 0-62mph time of just 5.0sec with the optional S-tronic gearbox, which includes a launch control system to limit slip under hard acceleration. With the standard six-speed manual, it requires 5.5sec.
These are improvements of 0.6sec and 0.3sec over the first-generation S3 Sportback introduced back in 2008. Top speed in each case is an electronically limited 155mph, or the same as before.
The added performance is achieved with a reduction in fuel consumption; the new S3 returns an official 41mpg on the European test cycle in six-speed S-tronic guise. In six-speed manual form it is rated at 40.4mpg.
The new S3 Sportback is the latest model to use the Volkswagen Group's new modular transverse MQB platform. Among its developments is a new front end architecture, with the front axle moved 52mm further forward compared with the previous model and the engine tilted back by 12deg towards the bulkhead for improved weight distribution.
Up front is a new MacPherson strut suspension. The rear receives a revised version of its predecessor's four-link suspension. The nominal ride height is reduced by 25mm over the A3 Sportback, while the standard wheels are 18-inch diameter and come shod with 225/40 profile tyres.
Standard equipment includes Audi Drive Select. It enables the driver to alter the characteristics of the throttle, shift points of the optional seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and the steering ratio. Heading the options is magnetic ride control, which uses an electromagnetic system to providing constantly variable damper rates.
The upgraded performance also sees the fitment of larger brakes, with 340mm discs sited up front. The traditional cable-operated handbrake has been replaced by an electro-mechanical device operated by a button on the centre console, in line with lesser A3 Sportback models.
As with the previous S3 Sportback, the new model receives a rather cautious appearance that eschews some of the more flamboyant performance car touches of rival hot hatchbacks. Many of the visual changes have already been previewed on the S-line styling package available for the recently introduced second-generation A3 Sportback.
Among them is a beefed-up grille with an aluminium-look finish to the frame and horizontal elements, larger front air ducts with honeycomb-shaped inserts within a reshaped front bumper, aluminium look exterior mirror housings, widened sills, roof rails, a prominent spoiler atop the tailgate, a deeper rear bumper with a prominent diffuser element and a quartet of chromed oval tail pipes. Discreet 'S3' badges also adorn the grille and tailgate.
The new Audi S3 Sportback is due to go on sale in September. UK prices are yet to be confirmed but expect the new S3 to cost around £34,200.