S STANDS FOR SURREPTITIOUS
FLAMBOYANCE is not part of the S3’s repertoire. Bigger brakes (the red calipers, pictured, are optional), a 25mm lower ride and quad exhaust tips are the only indications this is a more concentrated concoction than the regular A3.
The 2.0-litre turbo cranks out 213kW/380Nm through a seven-speed dual-clutch auto and all-wheel drive.
That’s good for a sprint from rest to 100km/h in just 4.8 seconds, or 5.3 seconds if you choose the six-speed manual gearbox.
In Sportback guise, the S3 is a performance bargain at $62,900.
Beyond the engine, the S3 is fitted with LED headlamps, virtual cockpit, city-speed autonomous emergency braking, digital radio and Android/Apple smartphone mirroring.
Audi says the additions represent $4900 in extra value against the outgoing S3, which sold for $61,100.
The electronic stability control can be set up to permit the driver to push a little harder before being reined in. The all-wheel drive repeatedly proved its worth powering out of slick corners in the Yarra Valley where the front-drive A3 struggled to grab traction.
BMW’s M140i is the obvious rival with comparable pricing and performance yet its rearwheel drive makes for a different driving experience.