Europe’s burgeoning hot hatch ranks are set for a further injection of premium-brand performance when a new, 276bhp Audi S3 is launched at the Paris motor show in September.
Previewed here in our artist’s impression, the latest in an ever-expanding S-badged line-up from Audi will reach UK showrooms early next year, priced from about £32,000.
That will put it in close competition with the £30,000 BMW M135i hatchback unveiled last week and the Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG that’s set to star alongside the S3 at Paris.
Audi had looked at fitting the new all-wheel-drive S3 with a detuned version of the RS3 Sportback’s 2.5-litre five-pot engine. But instead, the S3 will use a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that will feature in a whole host of other Volkswagen Group models due to its compatibility with the new modular MQB platform.
Whereas the old S3 used the VW Group’s decade-old ‘EA113’ engine, the new car is the first to receive the high-output version of the new ‘EA888’ unit.
The engine gets an all-new turbocharger and is equipped with the recently launched Audi Valve Lift system. This provides variable control of the valve lift and, in the process, the size of the inlet tract for added low-end response.
Insiders are claiming a 276bhp output in the new S3, plus a torque figure of 280lb ft. These are rises of 15bhp and 22lb ft over the old S3’s engine.
As well as extra muscle, the new Audi S3 will be up to 80kg lighter than today’s three-door S3, courtesy of a series of weight-saving measures, tagged under the Audi Ultra banner, that include the use of aluminium for the bonnet and wings.