What is it?
This is the facelifted Audi S3 saloon, which packs a more potent punch from a lightly fettled version of the German car maker’s widely used EA888 engine along with subtle changes to its four-wheel drive system that is claimed to provide it with more engaging driving traits.
Predictably, Ingolstadt’s junior four-door performance saloon also gets some subtle styling changes. Included are new-look bumpers, redesigned headlamps with optional matrix LED operation, a wider grille and more heavily structured LED tail-lamps.
The changes to the interior are even more restrained, although, given the excellence of the outgoing S3 saloon’s cabin, this comes as good news. Among the changes is an optional high-definition digital display that goes under the name Virtual Cockpit. Already available in the TT and A4, it is a worthy if somewhat pricey addition to an otherwise superb interior.
Audi isn't going into too much detail about the changes to the S3’s turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine, suggesting only that the revisions are focused on improved combustion efficiency. But it confirms that the engine produces an extra 10bhp and 15lb ft of torque, taking its reserves up to 306bhp and 295lb ft.
Buyers can choose between a standard six-speed manual and an optional seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic gearbox – the latter an all-new development that has been brought in as a replacement for the previous six-speed S tronic.
With an added ratio allowing Audi to fit a lower 3.19:1 first gear in place of the previous 2.92:1, Audi claims a 0-62mph time of 4.6sec for the new S3 saloon in S tronic form - a 0.3sec improvement over its direct predecessor.
As before, top speed is limited to 155mph. And while it is unlikely anyone considering the rapid four-door will be overly concerned with fuel economy, its claimed combined figure has improved by 3.2mpg at 44.1mpg, providing it with average CO2 emissions of 148g/km in combination with the S3’s standard 18in wheel and tyre package.