If you try to imagine what the Audi S3 Sportback is like, you’ve probably conjured up a pretty accurate picture.
Audi has become rather adept at this fast hatchback and saloon malarkey over the years, having identified what people seem to want from a fast hatchback or saloon: it needs to be capable, secure, subtle and pretty fuss-free. What they apparently don’t want a lot of is involvement or engagement, just for the car to get them from place to place securely and briskly.
The S3 received a minor update a few months ago, and this is our first drive of it in the UK. It comes off the back of a subtle revision of the whole A3 range, which was indeed so subtle you might even have missed it.
Updated to the S3 include a 10bhp power increase, so that the car gets a total of 306bhp, with a 15lb ft increase in torque to 295lb ft (with the automatic gearbox). The engine is a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol, and the same basic unit that makes 300bhp in the Volkswagen Golf R. When coupled to the automatic transmission, its fuel economy improves too, up to an official average figure of 40.9mpg.
The four-wheel drive system gets some tweaks too, making it more willing to push power to the rear in some cornering conditions, so that the S3 is less prone to understeer than it was previously.
Inside, the most relevant change for most drivers is that the interior gets Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, which replaces analogue dials with a 12.3in TFT digital screen.
If you’re accustomed to the way fast Audis have felt during the past few years, the S3 is pretty much exactly as you’d expect it to be.