Not too long ago Audi South Africa launched their all-new A3 models in the country in the form of the Sportback and Sedan, along with the TFSI models they also launched one of two performance engines, the S3. The A3 has always been a popular model for the local market as it served a unique space as a luxury hatchback for people who were transitioning from a normal hatch but were not quite ready for a big sedan, yes eventually Audi did launch a sedan version of the A3 which also proved to be quite a success and added a niche to the market of a small to medium sedan that offered luxury and comfort that one would normally associate with large cumbersome models. This was a very attractive option for the youth and young adults. With the introduction of the new model featuring a lot of design enhancements, I was looking forward to getting the new A3 but as luck would have it, I got handed the keys to the S3 Sportback for a week first, here is my take on this new performance hatch from the German brand.
It's a show stopper, yes there are key design elements from the outgoing model but while it is distinctively an A3 its grown and matured into something more special. Lets start of with the headlamps as Audi are forever coming up with the coolest tech for their lighting systems, this one comes with the new Matrix LED headlamps with the grid like design below which give you quite an entertaining show when unlocking the car. If you've seen videos of the RS3 online you will know of the special greeting it gives you when unlocking that one, this one doesn't spell out S3 but its cool enough. The car has definitely grown in size, not by much but the Audi designers make it seem that way with bolder accents, a bigger grille, more flared arches and openings. Being the S3 it has a more sportier look that the normal A3, larger 19-inch Audi Sport rims and a rear diffuser that many won't mind seeing as it will be passing most cars on the road with ease. When it comes to the interior, I wish they had awards for this kind of stuff because what this brand is doing with their interiors at the moment deserves some recognition. Its just pure class, the layout, the design, the look and feel is just immaculate. I cannot fault one aspect of it.
Right, the main reason you are all here reading through my nonsense, you want to know how that 2L TFSI motor performs. Looking at the figures, it's pretty impressive with an 213kW output and 400Nm of torque, claimed 0-100km/h time of 4.9 seconds is fast but trust me, I think it's faster. When put into dynamic mode this car is a beast, the tone of the exhaust changes, the car feels more sharper and rigid, looking to take on the next corner with that Quattro system we've all come to know and love. It has an electronically limited top-speed of 250km/h which I never got close to but the rate this car accelerates, it won't take you that long to max out. The S Tronic automatic gearbox works so well that I hardly found the need to swop over to the paddles when driving, speaking of gearbox, Audi have opted to go the Porsche route with the gear selector to a tiny little switch, that's the best way I can describe it but it works, takes some getting used to but like I said, it works. While my first 380km had the tank dry, I got the opportunity for a long drive with the S3 which saw me do 625km in a day. I was dreading the trip as all I thought about was filling this car up two-three times but slapped it into cruise control, and let the car do its thing. The S3 gave me an average of 8.4L per 100km, I was blown away as I did the entire journey on one tank of fuel. So it goes to show, drive the car like a sensible person and you can get good economy on a performance hatch.
The Audi S3 comes with sport seats finished off in some fancy stitching which was in red to accentuate the cars sporty nature, it even has "S" logo stitching in just below the headrest. This diamond stitching is continued in the back seat which are also bucket type to keep your occupants intact while you're flying around. As mentioned, the design of the interior is top notch with everything more driver focused, the virtual cockpit is upgraded giving the driver a lot more viewing options and display options, the multi-function steering with the signature flat bottom ensures that you're comfortable steering the car with everything within finger tip reach. The new infotainment touch screen that has Audi Connect and the latest MMI interface is brilliant and easy to use but if you like me, prefer to use the mobile applications like Car Play or Android Auto, then you won't need to worry about that too much. The driver and front passenger enjoy dual zone climate control while the rear gets single zone AC but with dual USB C slots for mobile phone charging. There is a wireless charger up front as well as dual USB C ports for driver and passenger. The panoramic sunroof is an option I've learnt to love over the time of testing cars, this one is rather large giving plenty of natural light into the cabin.
This car really exceeded my expectations of it, while stylish and sporty it really can be a practical daily driver. The lines are sharp and engaging, the tech this car comes with it on par of what many would expect in higher end models so its nice to see Audi offering it through-out their line of cars. It's a stunning vehicle that I thoroughly enjoyed driving. The noise levels on this model is just right, not too harsh or loud that would have angry Karen's coming to knock on your window telling you that you're causing a disturbance. In the back of my head, I'm still thinking if the performance of this car is so great, what will the upcoming RS3 be like? Well I have to wait till next year to experience that, for now I'm quite happy with this S3.