For those fans of the Volkswagen family?s hot hatchbacks looking for something a little finer than the R32, Audi?s new S3 Sportback ? the flagship of the A3 range ? is now upon us.
Extorting a massive 188kW from its 2.0-litre TFSI engine ? winner of the International Engine of the Year award four years in a row for its category ? the S3 Sportback also pushes out 330Nm of torque at peak from 2500 to 5000 RPM.
That might sound like a crazy amount of grunt for a small hatch, but of course the S3 Sportback is equipped with Audi?s Quattro all-wheel-drive system as standard. And without the R32?s heavier (but gorgeous) V6, the S3 Sportback can be trusted to get a lot more out of its AWD system.
The new S3 Sportback rockets to 100km/h in 5.8 seconds ? merely a second off the RS 6 Avant?s V10-powered time ? despite its otherwise miserly 8.5L/100km fuel economy on the combined cycle.
An electronically-controlled, hydraulic multi-plate clutch located in the rear for better weight balance is responsible for distributing torque to where it?s needed most, while a six-speed manual transmission with shortened shift travel gets it from hand to wheel.
Reducing unsprung mass, aluminium swivel bearings and wishbones assist in attaining greater dynamics. Stiffer chassis bearings and the S3's electromechanical steering improves handling precision.
Sports suspension ? built with a range of lightweight aluminium components ? lowers the body by 25mm. Beyond this, Audi magnetic ride ? an electronic suspension control system - is now available for the first time in this model range as an option. A synthetic hydrocarbon oil, in which magnetic particles with a grain size of just three to ten micrometres are enclosed, circulates in the shock absorber plungers. Audi magnetic ride is available as a $2,400 option.
The new S3 Sportback is 72mm longer than its three-door sibling, as well as 3mm higher. Width, of course, remains the same at 1765mm.
The S3 Sportback is set apart by its chrome-plated radiator grille, vertical double bars, and an aggressive spoiler lip beneath the front bumper. Continuing the theme, chrome rings surround the fog lamps, and a platinum grey diffuser and two large oval exhaust tailpipes bring the power look to the rear. The rear tail light clusters get a similar going-over.
Inside the car, embossed Silk Nappa leather sport seats, S design multi-function leather sports steering wheel, BOSE speaker system and Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity are among the standard features.
The new S3 Sportback comes standard with ESP, ABS, Traction Control ASR, and an Electronic Differential Lock. Audi?s SIDEGUARD head and curtain airbags for front and rear passengers, together with side and front airbags, are standard also.
All this is yours for $68,310. If you don?t need the track-monster credentials of the Evo X, but would like something pretty damn close and perhaps a bit classier in the bargain, this is the ticket for you.
Deliveries of the new Audi S3 Sportback start next month. You might want to give it an eyeball before the dollar goes further down the toilet and Audi revises its pricing.