Dynamism, sportiness and sophistication are the key words to define the new Audi S3, the top of the range model for the A3 series. Featuring a 265 bhp boosted version of the already known 122 cui TFSI engine (that offers only 200 bhp on the Audi A3 2.0 TFSI and Volkswagen Golf GTI) and Quattro permanent four-wheel drive the newcomer hot hatch pursues the ideal of pure driving pleasure coupled simultaneously with excellent everyday practicality - like all Audi S models.
The new Audi S3 is set to redefine the standards of the premium compact class – at the level of a sports car. It sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds, and halts acceleration only when reaching 155 mph. Aggressively hard-hitting, free-revving and with a sonorous acoustic profile, the powerful 122 cui, turbocharged four-cylinder unit with TFSI petrol direct injection proves to be a smooth, high-performance engine.
As the other A3 models it shares the same technical platform with the Volkswagen Golf V. The engine is also shared with the Audi A3 2.0 TFSI and the Golf GTI. To insure a performance upgrade the supercharging pressure of the S3’s unit was increased so it delivers 65 more bhp over the A3 and Golf GTI. A difference to the Volkswagen Golf GTI models is the Quattro 4WD system used exclusively on Audi models
VW Golf GTI
The 265 bhp are transmitted by the six-speed gearbox and Quattro permanent four-wheel drive to 18-inch diameter large alloy wheels. The ride is further enhanced by the new S sports suspension system that enables an extremely sporty driving style combined with the ultimate in comfort. This new high performance compact model responds actively to steering movements, exhibits precise and safe handling characteristics and, thanks to Quattro technology, enables maximum acceleration out of bends.
The enormous dynamic potential of this three-door sports car is obvious at first glance. Distinctive elements for new Audi S3 are the single-frame grille with chrome trim, the front skirt that includes a spoiler with large air-intakes and the restyled side sills. Also new are the contrasting platinum grey diffuser built into the rear skirt and the two S-style oval chrome tailpipes. Aluminium-look door mirrors and a body-colour roof spoiler give added impact to the visual statement.
The first generation Audi S3 (1999-2003) was built on the same A platform of the Audi A3, Volkswagen Golf IV, Audi TT, SEAT León and Škoda Octavia. It equipped a R4 20V 110 cui turbocharged petrol engine offering 225 bhp. Early models (1999-2002) had a detuned 210 bhp engine, in order to avoid internal competition with the 225 bhp Audi TT. 2002-2003 models had variable valve timing and 225 bhp. That generation of S3 was the first Audi S-series car to use a small four-cylinder engine.
Although dubbed as Quattro, the first S3 used the cheaper VW 4-Motion four-wheel drive system. That used a Haldex coupling to adjust the bias from the front to rear axle as grip changed, but most of the time it operated as a front-wheel drive.
With its compact dimensions and a the wide range of seat and steering wheel adjustments, the early S3 one of the most enjoyed hot hatches. It was sold was sold in the United Kingdom, Europe and Australia, but was not officially marketed in the United States.
The first Audi S3 received a face-lift in 2001, where it was given one-piece headlights/indicator units, different front wings, rear lights clusters and some minor upgrades to interior trim (e.g. a digital clock and audio packages).
1999 Audi S3
The newAudi S3 comes to storm the premium hot-hatch segment, and has to face the BMW 130i, that also offers 265 bhp, from a NA high-rev engine spinning the rear wheels. Other cheaper competitors are the Opel Astra OPC, Ford Focus ST, Honda Civic Type-R, or the “organ brother” VW Golf GTI.
Body & chassis
The new Audi S3 is the compact car in the premium segment that perfectly combines sporty driving characteristics with a spacious interior. This is complemented by an impression of quality and materials otherwise only to be found in higher vehicle segments. The new S3 is improved in several areas and offers extended equipment.
The most obvious changes can be seen at the front and rear ends of the vehicle. The three-door S3 also sports the new Audi single-frame grille, which makes the latest Audi models so unmistakable. More aggressive spoilers and larger air-intakes state the character of the compact mile-eater. The new S3 face enhances the dynamism of the three-door model even more significantly than before. The coupe-like allure, which combines tautness and athleticism, has been conserved. The rising baseline of the side window area and the descending roofline converge in the powerful tail end. This is also where the visual centre of gravity of the S3 is, the powerful tail that make the whole car look as if it is about to leap forward.
While the overall number of lines was significantly reduced and the individual surfaces split up graphically, the rear-end styling is noted for its explicit clarity. A striking feature to underline the dynamic character of the car is the addition of the S-design oval tail pipes.
The power plant of the new Audi S3 is an enhanced version of the already known 200 bhp 122-cui TFSI engine. In this upgraded 265 bhp version, it delivers all that is expected of a powerful sports engine, and does it supremely well. It combines direct fuel injection and turbocharger technology to peak the power at 6,000 rpm. As a general characteristic of turbo engines, it delivers a high amount of torque at a low rpm, in this case an impressive 258 lbs/ft at just 2,500 rpm. This pulling power remains constant up to 5,000 rpm. In the combined driving cycle the 122 cui TFSI displays another welcome character trait, allowing a fuel consumption of 26 mpg, further proof of the forward-looking efficiency of TFSI technology developed by Volkswagen and Audi.
Compared with the A3’s 2.0 TFSI and VW Golf GTI, this engine is an advanced version with important changes. The new turbocharger with its enlarged turbine and compressor rotor produces 1.2 bar of boost pressure – a figure familiar to competition engines. Another upgrade is the modified intercooler that significantly lowers the temperature of the compressed air, thus increasing the air mass necessary for combustion.
In order to support the power increment pistons with stronger pins and strengthened connecting rods with new bearings that transmit the powerful forces to the crankshaft were fitted. The cylinder block has also been stiffened up and has a new head made of a new, highly heat-resistant alloy.
Valve-train changes include adjustment of the exhaust camshaft timing in order to accommodate the increased power output. New high-pressure injectors with enlarged cross-section now squirt the fuel straight into the combustion chamber.
Despite all this upgrades, the high-performance turbo weighs in at just 335 lbs., which is less than comparable power plants from direct competitors, and this has a positive effect on the axle load distribution. The compact dimensions of the 122 cui TFSI make it suitable for transverse installation, which brings benefits in terms of the S3’s interior space and luggage capacity.
To match its sporty nature and firm handling, the new Audi S3 has a six-speed, close-ratio manual gearbox. IT features reduced gearshift, enabling even sportier and more precise gear changes. As any other Audi S model, the new S3 drives all four wheels by means of a Quattro permanent four-wheel drive system. A high performance electronically controlled multi-plate clutch, positioned at the rear for the benefit of weight balance, distributes the torque as needed – delivering plenty of grip and maximum driving safety. All the new components in the drive train were strengthened up to cope with the high level of engine torque
While offering a permanent, situation-specific distribution of propulsive power between all four wheels, the Quattro system also guarantees maximum traction and, as a result, optimum acceleration at all times. At the same time, there are still ample reserves for transmitting cornering forces in the interest of directional stability and cornering safety.
The key element of this sophisticated drive system is the multi-plate clutch fitted between the driveshaft and the rear differential. A special package of plates running in an oil bath within the clutch housing can be pressed together by controlled hydraulic power, thus providing variable torque distribution between the front and rear axles. The more pressure is able to build up on the multi-plate clutch, the more drive torque can be transferred to the rear axle. The electronically controlled system responds instantaneously to any change in traction.
With the engine mounted at the front and the four-wheel-drive multi-plate clutch at the rear, the axle load distribution is close to ideal. Indeed, this weight distribution is crucial to the excellent driving stability and good handling of the new Audi S3 Quattro
Engine type Inline four-cylinder spark-ignition engine with petrol direct injection, exhaust turbo-charger with intercooler,
Mixture preparation Fully electronic engine management with drive-by-wire throttle control, direct injection, adaptive lambda control; mapped ignition with solid-state high-voltage distribution, cylinder-selective adaptive knock control
Exhaust emission control Close-coupled ceramic primary catalytic converter with catalyst heating function via homogeneous split dual injection
Emission category EU 4
Alternator in A / battery in A/Ah 140 / 280/60
Clutch Hydraulically operated multi-plate dry clutch with asbestos-free linings
Gearbox type 6-speed manual gearbox, synchromesh on all gears
Average fuel efficiency 26 mpg
0-60 mph 5.5 sec
Top speed 155 mph
The handling offered by the new Audi S3 features all the qualities of a high-performance sports car. It delivers immediate response to steering movements and achieves high cornering speeds. The innately sophisticated suspension of the sporty Audi has been further refined.
The new springs and shock absorbers are stiffer, and the body is one inch lower than that of an A3 with standard suspension. Aluminium pivot bearings and wishbones reduce the weight of the front suspension. Stiffer suspension mounts and a sportier characteristic for the electro-mechanical steering convey even greater dynamism and precision.
Front suspension McPherson struts with lower wishbones, aluminium sub-frame,
tubular anti-roll bar, track-stabilising steering roll radius
Rear suspension Four-link rear suspension with separate spring/shock absorber arrangement, sub-frame, tubular anti-roll bar
The new S3 features an exclusive 17-inch brake system, with sports brake pads that ensure maximum deceleration. The black painted callipers bear S3 emblems. The dual-circuit brake system with diagonal split also features ESP with electronic brake-force distribution EBD, ABS, hydraulic brake assist, brake servo with dual-rate function and electronic differential lock (EDL).
An interesting highlight of the S3 is the electro-mechanical steering with speed-dependent power assistance that combines optimum feedback from steering movements with a low level of sensitivity to vibration from the road surface, and consumes far less energy than a conventional system. This new system integrated into the further improved ESP assists the driver in critical situations. If the car ever threatens to swerve and the driver decides to steer in order to stabilize the vehicle, the steering resistance is reduced. If there is a risk of the driver exacerbating the critical situation by an incorrect steering maneuver, steering resistance is increased.
Steering type: Rack and pinion with integrated power assist and ESP assist
Tires & wheels
Exclusive S-design 18-inch alloy wheels with 225/40 ZR18 high performance tires
The interior conveys an atmosphere of sportiness, with materials of the highest quality and painstaking craftsmanship. The elements that dominate the styling are the sports seats with prominent side sections, the black headlining, also available in silver, and the instrument cluster with its special dials and needles.
The pedals, gear knob and air vents are in aluminium look, the inlays are in Piano finish black, or alternatively Aluminium or Fine grain birch wood grey. The red and silver S3 emblem is to be found on the leather sports steering wheel, in the instrument cluster, on the gear knob and on the doorsill trims. The seats are upholstered in a combination of cloth and leather or, as an option, in Alcantara/leather or completely in leather. The two-tone leather seats are decorated with stitching in the same colour as their centre section.
The extras also include a leather steering wheel with flat-bottomed rim and – in the Quattro GmbH range – folding bucket seats. In the infotainment area, Audi is presenting a new generation of audio systems. The premium package is rounded off by universal interfaces for mobile phone and iPod, plus a sound system from Bose. Standard equipment includes deluxe automatic air conditioning, a driver information system with a new lap-timer function, and an anti-theft alarm. Front fog lights and xenon plus headlights with daytime running lights underline the impressive price/performance ratio.
The Audi S3 is the kind of a vehicle that doesn’t need any retouching. It was born with subtle mix of elegance and aggressiveness, and any change to this design may seem redundant. But, for those who want to own an exclusive S3 we have set up some radical changes. The most striking addition is the new front grille, inspired by that of the Audi Rosemeyer Concept. It is all made of aluminum, including the surrounding parts that bond with the bonnet front spoiler. Another spectacular addition are the rear wings that have been seriously widened to accommodate wider tires and a wider track. They incorporate wide intakes for rear brakes cooling. Usually side intakes of this size serve to cool a middle mounted engine, but for our S3 (with a front engine) they just get to cool the brakes and look outrageous. The paintwork is quite complex, and includes four distinctive colors. The bonnet and the side of the car are brilliant black, the rear wing is a dark brown and the plate behind the side intakes is a light grey. The rest of the body parts are a medium metallic grey, except for the front grille, which is not painted at all. It just exposes the polished aluminum. Other changes include beautiful Audi S-design 19” wheels with seven twin spokes.