Twin-clutch transmission suits S3's smooth character

What is it?

This is the Audi S3 S Tronic. It’s the same 261bhp, four-wheel drive super-hatch that’s been around since 2006, but now it’s fitted with a twin-clutch gearbox.

The S Tronic transmission is essentially the older six-speed version of VW’s DSG gearbox rather than the latest seven-speed unit, but the shifts are smooth and rapid, and the Audi S3’s relentless shove means that the seventh ratio is rarely – if ever – missed.

What’s it like?

The addition of the S Tronic ’box to the Audi S3 is a civilising influence on an already civilised car.

The four-wheel drive Audi S3 has always been more of a swift, surefooted express rather than a tearaway hot hatch, and the quick, silky twin-clutch S Tronic only adds to the S3’s high-speed cruising credentials.

Audi claims that the twin-clutch transmission knocks two tenths of a second from the S3’s 0-62mph time, bringing it to 5.5sec. We can well believe it; the smooth turbocharged four-pot motor barely has to pause between ratios.

The shift paddles are almost redundant, however. If you stick the lever into ‘S’, the upshifts and downchanges are so well timed that changing gear yourself can actually hinder rapid progress.

Our only niggles are that the Audi S3 S Tronic will shift up of its own accord at the red line even in manual mode, and that the engine braking effect in ‘S’ mode occasionally makes braking tricky to modulate.

Should I buy one?

It’s hard to think of a hot hatch that can cover ground as quickly and effortlessly as the S3. A Ford Focus RS or a Megane R26R will go down the road as rapidly, but both are far more frantic.

In fact, it’s hard to think of any sub-£30k car that blends civilised manners and cross-country pace so effectively. It sounds ridiculous, but you would have to look at something like a Jaguar XK to find a superior blend of speed and comfort.

Matt Rigby

Join the debate

Add a comment…
Wop140 16 January 2013

Audi s3 technology s-tronic

I have a 2010 s3 technology black edition s-tronic

it cost me £36,ooo with cruise control, bucket seats and few little extras its by far the best car I've ever owned, it's fast very it handles like its on rails with continental tyres it does 25-30mpg in automatic mode and still does 18mpg in s mode ragging the arse of it.... I can not knock it mine is ibis white with Gray roter arm wheels it looks stunning a proper head turner and the exhaust sound it wicked it sounds like a jet fighter, the service costs are expensive with a normal 10,000 costing £300 plus vat and the long life service pushing over £500, and only Audi can do the tracking on the Quattro system but that's not the car it's the ggarage the only thing you should be aware of it eats tyres like James cordon eats Big Macs I've done 20k in mine and I've had 3 sets of continental sport contact 3 with a pair costing £250 so I've spent £1500 in tyres but I do drive hard but saying that it goes round corners at silly speed you don't really need to push it but it comes at a price the outsides of the tyres just become bald but I totally love it........ I was going to trade up to the rs3 but it's about 10% faster for a extra 15 grand...... So I'm waiting till April 2013 when the new s3 comes out with 300bhp now that should be fun!!!!!

makecar 21 July 2009

Re: Audi S3 S Tronic

Cool car. Too bad it would likely be pushing $60,000 if it came here. And there's only one kind of person who drives a $60k compact hatchback: Euro-trash

csmith319 29 April 2009

Re: Audi S3 S Tronic

Mr Melville wrote:
So for you I guess the engine sound is vital and for me not...........

I just find it adds to the experience - what I am still keen to try is the 135i - more low down shove.