Following the unveiling of the overhauled A3 in March, Audi is gearing up to launch the hot S3 variant – and our snappers have caught it undisguised in saloon and hatchback forms.
Prototypes spotted testing at the Nürburgring appear to be production-ready and bear a similar evolutionary look to the standard car. We've driven a heavily camouflaged S3 prototype, but these new images show off the model's subtle, performance-oriented styling tweaks.
As with the outgoing car, the S3 will adopt a set of quad exhaust pipes housed in a diffuser-style rear bumper, bespoke performance alloy wheels, larger brake discs and slightly extended wheel arches for a sportier stance. Bespoke badging at the front and rear, not featured on these prototypes, will also likely feature.
The S3, which is set to get more power and a significant technology upgrade, will be part of an 11-strong A3 model line-up due before 2022.
Revealed in five-door hatchback form, using the current car's MQB platform, the A3 will also offer four-door saloon and, eventually, five-door liftback variants. The liftback is expected to take the Sportback name as the three-door A3 was discontinued in 2017.
The other variants will also gain S3- and RS3-badged models. With competition from the new BMW M135i and Mercedes-AMG A35 in the 300-335bhp bracket, the S3 will pack 306bhp and 295lb ft by using the Volkswagen Golf R's 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Performance figures are likely to improve over the current car's but remain under wraps for now.
The outgoing car's quattro four-wheel drive and progressive steering are carried over, but a new damper system and central dynamic control function bring subtle changes to the S3's dynamic character.
The RS3, meanwhile, will increase in power in the face of 400bhp-plus opposition from the Mercedes-AMG A45. It'll keep the 2.5-litre five-cylinder unit from the current car, updated to meet the latest emissions regulations, but should share its 394bhp output with the recently launched RS Q3.
The styling of the new A3 follows the rest of the Audi range with a more geometric front-end treatment and sharper tail-lights. Audi's Virtual Cockpit features as standard, with a choice of two infotainment screen sizes, advanced voice control and a migration away from physical switchgear.