Audi performance-oriented hatch gets A4-inspired styling and new premium features

2015 brought us many new models from Audi, including redesigned versions of the A4, Q7, and R8, and it seems that 2016 will also be packed with new releases from the four-ringed automaker. Having already launched the redesigned R8 Spyder at the 2016 New York Auto Show, Audi took the wraps of the facelifted A3 family, which includes a hatchback, sedan, and cabriolet and their respective performance-oriented versions.

In this article we will focus on the hatchback version of the S3, which is available in both three- and five-door body styles.

Like the rest of the A3 family, the S3 Sportback gained a redesigned front fascia that includes Audi’s new styling language, an updated rear end, enhanced technology, and a slightly more powerful drivetrain. In other words, we’re dealing with a regular facelift created with one thought in mind: keep the car fresh until the next-generation model arrives.

The bad news is that the S3 Sportback won’t cross the pond to the U.S. for now, where Audi doesn’t sell the A3 hatch or any of its derivatives. However, if you’re on the market for a performance-oriented compact Audi will be happy to sell you the S3 sedan or S3 convertible. If a hatchback is what you need, you will have to look somewhere else. Be that as it may, let’s have a closer look at the S3 Sportback and find out how the new compact stacks up against other performance hatchbacks.

Updated 04/07/2016: Audi dropped the official details on the revised A3 family, including the 2017 S3 three- and five-doors hatchback versions.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Audi S3.

  • 2017 Audi S3
  • Year:
    2017
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    310
  • Torque @ RPM:
    295
  • Displacement:
    2.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    4.7 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    155 mph
  • Price:
    € 40600
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2017 Audi S3
- image 671901

In recent years Audi made a name for itself as a big supporter of the "same sausage, different lengths" design strategy. The Germans are not alone in this, but things have become rather ridiculous in recent years. Likewise, the Ingolstadt-based firm has adopted a rather cautious approach when it comes to facelifts, opting for minor changes inside and out. Fortunately, the S3 is somewhat of an exception from that rule thanks to the new styling language Audi introduced with the Q7 in 2015.

Sure, the overall shape and size has remained unchanged, but the S3 borrows heavily from the new-generation A4

Sure, the overall shape and size has remained unchanged, but the S3 borrows heavily from the new-generation A4, using many of the sedan’s sharper features and more aggressive body lines. The influence is most noticeable up front, where the trademark hexagonal grille is wider and has a more angular design. The same goes for the headlamps, which are flatter and now have pointed contours. Both the engine hood and bumper have a more muscular appearance, with the latter employing larger air vents and a U-shaped gap under the grille. The new layout give the S3 an RS3-like appearance. Customers who can’t afford the more expensive version will definitely appreciate that.

The headlamps come with Xenon elements as standard, while LED and Matrix LED technologies are optional.

Differences are less noticeable around back, but a closer look reveals new taillights with horizontal LED strips, a reshaped bumper, and a new diffuser with larger fins. The quad-pipe configuration is still there for the race-inspired look. The side panels are identical to the previous model, but Audi offers a range of new wheel designs. The color palette has also been modified and now includes six new colors: Ara Blue, Cosmic Blue, Nano Grey, Tango Red, and Vegas Yellow.

Side-by-side comparison

2017 Audi S3
- image 671953

Interior

2017 Audi S3
- image 671904

As expected, Audi didn’t change much inside the cabin, but I can’t say this is an issue, as the S3’s interior is still fresh compared to some of its competitors and other Audis that have yet to receive the brand’s new cabin layout. That’s not to say I would mind seeing the A4’s dashboard inside the hatch, but the S3 is far from dated as it stands.

Moving over to the nips and tucks, the three-spoke steering wheel gets a mild redesign and an optional heating function

Moving over to the nips and tucks, the three-spoke steering wheel gets a mild redesign and an optional heating function, while the leather-wrapped driver seat is offered with a massage function.

The really important updates are in the technology department. First up is the addition of Audi’s "virtual cockpit," a first for the compact model. The feature replaces the traditional gauge cluster with a 12.3-inch TFT screen with multiple display modes, navigation, audio system, and phone info.

The infotainment system also received extensive updates. The standard seven-inch monitor provides access to redesigned menus based on the latest smartphone designs with most of the control done via a rotary/push-button on the center console. A touchpad allows the used to enter characters and gestures, including a map zoom function. Audi also offers LTE connectivity that provides a Wi-Fi hotspot for mobile devices, Google Earth, Google Street View, parking and traffic info, and weather.

Side-by-side comparison

2017 Audi S3
- image 671952

Drivetrain

2017 - 2018 Audi S3 Sedan High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 671835
The S3 gets its juice from the same 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder as last year's model, but output has been increased to 310 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque

The S3 gets its juice from the same 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder as last year’s model, but output has been increased to 310 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. That’s only ten horses and 15 pound-feet over the previous version, but just enough for a facelift. Transmission choices include a seven-speed S Tronic automatic and a six-speed manual.

Performance specs have yet to be unveiled, but expect the hatch to hit 60 mph from a standing start in around 4.7 seconds with the S Tronic gearbox and 4.9 with the automatic. Top speed will be limited at 155 mph.

The hatch rides on a performance-oriented suspension system with MacPherson struts up front and a four-link setup to the rear. Fixed dampers are standard, while the adaptive magnetic components are optional. Power goes to all four wheels through the Quattro all-wheel drive system, while the progressive steering is electrically powered. Audi now also offers an updated Electronic Stabilization Control system and a new multi-plate clutch for the AWD system.

Safety

2017 Audi S3
- image 671897

Most safety features are carried over from the previous model, but the 2017 model year brings an array of new driver assistance system from Audi’s larger vehicles. Novelties include Active Lane Assist, Pre-Sense Front warning, pedestrian monitor, Rear-Cross Traffic Warning, Traffic Jam Assist with Adaptive Cruise Control and Stop&Go feature. The latter becomes useful in slow-moving traffic automatically stopping and setting off, keeping a safe distance to the car ahead. At speed of up to 40 mph, the system will also take over steering duties, but only while traveling on "well-paved roads," meaning that the process will be restricted to certain routes.

Prices

Pricing for the S3 Sportback shouldn’t increase much with the facelift. With the current model available from €40,600 (about $46,190) in Germany, the updated hatch should fetch around €42,000 (around $47,780) before options.

Competition

Volkswagen Golf R

2016 Volkswagen Golf R Exterior
- image 613765
VW has finally unveiled a new set of high-res images of the 2016 Golf R. Check them and our review of it at TopSpeed.com.

Based on the seventh-generation Golf, the current R uses a similar engine as the S3 Sportback and comes with 296 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque on tap. The sprint from 0 to 62 mph takes 5.1 seconds with the six-speed manual and 4.9 seconds with the DSG, making it quicker than the Audi. Also available with all-wheel-drive, the Golf R is pretty similar to the S3 Sportback, so it really depends on which design you like or if you care for the sub-five-second 0-to-62 mph sprint. Pricing for the Golf R starts from €39,000 in its home market. Unlike the S3 Sportback, the Golf R is available in the U.S. from $35,650.

Read more about the Volkswagen Golf R here.

Ford Focus RS

2016 Ford Focus RS High Resolution Exterior
- image 620092

Brand-new for the 2015 model year, the Focus RS is the most powerful hatchback in this comparison, sporting a 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine under its hood. Borrowed from the sixth-generation Mustang but tweaked for the RS, the turbocharged four-banger cranks out 350 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. Naturally, the Focus RS is also the quickest, needing 4.8 seconds to hit 62 mph from a standing start. However, a tenth-second over the Golf R isn’t exactly a lot given that the Ford benefits from 56 extra horses and 70 extra pound-feet. Pricing for the Focus RS starts from €40,000 in Germany and $35,730 in the U.S.

Find out more about the Ford Focus RS here.

Conclusion

2017 Audi S3
- image 671910

Like most recent Audi facelifts, the S3 Sportback is far from mind-blowing, but the A4-inspired cues are bound to keep the performance-oriented hatchback fresh for another three years or so. The exterior is much more attractive with the new body kit, while the new infotainment and TFT instrument cluster make up for the lack of new interior features. More importantly, the S3 finally broke into 300-horsepower teritorry with this update, making it a more suitable competitor for the Golf R and the brand-new Focus RS. Sure, it will be a bit more expensive than its rivals, but the new features borrowed from the larger Audis and the added standard features make the S3 facelift a good bang for the buck. Too bad it’s not available Stateside, where performance hatchbacks aren’t doing bad.

  • Leave it
    • Needs more power to compete with the Focus RS
    • Slower than most competitors
    • Not coming to the U.S.

Press Release

The successful model from Audi is now even more attractive: The Audi A3* approaches the starting line with new driver assistance systems and engines as well as newly designed headlights and taillights. Also new on board is the innovative operating and display concept, Audi virtual cockpit. The new A3 is available in a three-door version and as a Sportback,
a sedan and a Cabriolet. The sporty Audi S3* version comes with numerous innovations and has even further enhanced its dynamic potential. The A3 series offers the most versatile line of drive systems in the compact segment with the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron* and the Audi A3 Sportback g-tron*.

2017 Audi S3
- image 671900

Driver assistance systems from the Audi full-size category
With numerous driver assistance systems, the new Audi A3 raises the bar in the premium compact segment yet again. The further developed Audi active lane assist and Audi pre sense front, including predictive pedestrian protection, make town and country driving even safer.

New in the segment is the traffic jam assist, which works together with Audi adaptive cruise control (ACC) and its Stop&Go feature. The optional system keeps the car at a safe distance from the vehicle in front, and in combination with the S tronic, automatically sets the vehicle in motion again after a short stop. In sluggish traffic up to 65 km/h (40.4 mph), the traffic jam assist even briefly takes over the steering on well-paved roads. Another new feature for the A3 family is the optional Emergency Assist. This system initiates braking down to a safe stop if, despite warnings, no steering activity by the driver is detected. The new rear cross-traffic assist warns the driver about cross traffic when slowly backing out of a perpendicular parking space, for example.

Controls & displays, infotainment and Audi connect
The highlight in the interior of the new Audi A3* is the Audi virtual cockpit. This innovative operating concept is available for the first time in the compact class. The Audi virtual cockpit displays the most important driving-relevant information in high resolution on a 12.3-inch diagonal TFT screen. The driver can switch between two views by pressing the “View” button on the multifunction steering wheel. In classic mode, the instruments appear as large as the usual analog displays.

In infotainment mode, however, a central window predominates, which provides more space to the navigation map or shows lists for the telephone, radio and audio. The tachometer and speedometer appear as small round clocks.

The menu structure in the MMI system has been redesigned. Operation with its flat hierarchies is based on smartphones. The centerpiece of the MMI terminal is the round rotary/push-button control, whose ring is illuminated in white in the top version. On its surface is the touch-sensitive touchpad for entering characters and for multi-finger gestures, allowing the driver to zoom within the map. Above and beside the rotary/push-button control are toggle switches and buttons with which the driver can navigate through the newly designed menu structure. The enhanced voice control for navigation, radio, media and phone now also understands many phrases from everyday language.

2017 Audi S3
- image 671901

In infotainment, the new Audi A3 again sets new standards. The MMI radio plus with the electrically extended 7-inch diagonal monitor is standard equipment. The optionally available MMI navigation and MMI navigation plus with MMI touch in conjunction with the Audi connect module bring many online functions into the car. They include, for example, navigation with Google Earth and Google Street View traffic information in real time as well as practical information on parking, destinations, news or the weather. The information is transmitted via the super-fast LTE standard. The required flat rate data plan is included thanks to the Audi connect SIM card pre-installed in the car. The customer receives this embedded SIM (e‑SIM) in combination with Audi connect in Europe. It permits roaming in most European countries. Regardless of the integrated Audi connect services, data packets for individual internet use can also be booked via the Wi-Fi hotspot.

The free Audi MMI connect app enables other services, such as online media streaming and transfer of a calendar from a smartphone to the MMI. The A3 e-tron* also features services for programming the charging and the departure time and for the air conditioning.

Cell phones with iOS and Android operating systems are connected with the car via the Audi smartphone interface. The Audi phone box in the center armrest utilizes near-field coupling to link smartphones wirelessly to the vehicle’s antenna and enables inductive charging.

Newly designed equipment lines
Although hardly any change has been made to the dimensions – 4.24 meters (13.91 ft) in length with a wheelbase of 2.60 meters (8.53 ft) – the new Audi A3* appears even sportier and more expressive than ever. Its Singleframe grille features sharper contours and is broader. The headlights are flatter, with distinctive outer contours.

2017 Audi S3 Wallpaper quality
- image 671902

The rear accentuates the width of the new A3 – with the horizontal illuminated graphics of the rear lights and the separation edge above the redesigned diffuser. The color palette has been expanded. Twelve paint colors are available to choose from, including the five new colors Ara blue, Cosmic blue, Nano gray, Tango red and Vegas yellow. Daytona gray pearl effect paintwork is reserved for the S line exterior package.

New for the A3 are the modularly designed equipment lines. They afford the customer even greater freedom of choice, and for the first time, also affect details of the exterior. Besides the basic models, the future holds in store the two lines sport and design, with their optional S line sport package and design selection equipment lines.

Extensively updated: the engine lineup
The engine lineup for the Audi A3 comprises six engines (three gasoline and three diesel units). Their power output ranges from 81 kW (110 hp) to 140 kW (190 hp). All A3 models fulfill the EU6 standard.

With the 1.0 TFSI, Audi is offering a three-cylinder model in the Audi A3 series for the first time. The compact engine outputs 85 kW (115 hp) and delivers 200 Nm (147.5 lb-ft) of torque at 2,000 to 3,500 revolutions per minute. The new entry-level gasoline engine is efficient without sacrificing anything in terms of driving pleasure.

The 1.4 TFSI COD ultra features cylinder-on-demand efficiency technology, turning off two cylinders when the corresponding output is not required. The engine with 1,395 ccm displacement outputs 110 kW (150 hp) and develops 250 Nm (184.4 lb-ft) of torque.

A technical highlight is the completely new 2.0 TFSI with its innovative combustion process. From a displacement of 1,984 ccm it generates 140 kW (190 hp), delivering 320 Nm (236.0 lb-ft) of torque at 1,500 to 4,200 revolutions per minute.

2017 Audi S3
- image 671903

Audi offers the four-cylinder TDI engine with 1,968 ccm displacement in two performance levels in the new A3*. The 2.0 TDI comes optionally with 110 kW (150 hp) and 340 Nm (250.8 lb-ft) at 1,750 to 3,000 revolutions per minute – and will soon be available with 135 kW (184 hp) and 380 Nm (280.3 lb-ft) at 1,750 to 3,000 revolutions per minute.

The new entry-level diesel engine is the 1.6 TDI with 81 kW (110 hp). It is available in combination with the six-speed manual transmission or the S tronic seven-speed dual clutch transmission.

The 2.0 TFSI engines are joined by a fully newly developed seven-speed S tronic with wet clutch. It replaces the previous six-speed dual clutch transmission. The new Audi A3 transmits the engine power to the front wheels by default. For the gasoline-engine versions, quattro all-wheel drive is available for the 2.0 TFSI with 140 kW (190 hp).

The suspension of the new Audi A3 impresses with its balanced and sporty tuning. With the optional sport suspension, the body lies 15 millimeters (0.6 in) lower, and 25 millimeters (1.0 in) lower with the S line sport suspension. The electromechanical power steering is sensitive and efficient in operation. On request, Audi provides the likewise electrically powered progressive steering system for many models that is standard in the Audi S3* series.

The new Audi A3 rides on 16-inch wheels as standard equipment, with 17-inch wheels available in the design and sport equipment lines. The wide range of options with 17-, 18- and 19-inch wheels includes new designs. The line of tires has also been overhauled, and now offers improved performance with optimized rolling resistance.

For the first time in the segment: Matrix LED headlights
The headlights of the Audi A3* provide a distinctive and new look with their jagged bottom edges. Xenon plus units are standard; as options Audi offers LED headlights and for the first time matrix LED headlights as well.

Consistent lightweight design has brought the curb weight of the Audi A3 with 1.0 TFSI engine down to just 1,150 kg (2,535.3 lb) – the lightest in its class. The body of the new Audi A3 is crashproof and rigid to a high extent. A noise-insulating windshield is standard equipment.

2017 Audi S3
- image 671904

The interior affords the top quality typical of Audi. The newly designed three-spoke steering wheel is heated on request. For more comfort on long journeys, Audi offers a driver seat with massage function in the new A3.

Sustainably en route: the new Audi A3 Sportback e-tron
The plug-in hybrid version, the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron*, combines a 1.4 TFSI, which outputs 110 kW (150 hp) and delivers 250 Nm (184.4 lb-ft) of torque, with an electric motor that produces 75 kW and 330 Nm (243.4 lb-ft). The system output of 150 kW (204 hp) affords sporty driving performance.

Full charging of the lithium-ion battery (8.8 kWh) from a 380-volt three phase-current supply takes a little over two hours.

The new Audi A3 Sportback g-tron
Audi offers still another drive alternative with the A3 Sportback g-tron*: The five-door compact model can use climate-neutrally produced Audi e-gas as fuel, in addition to fossil-based natural gas.

Equipped with a 1.4 TFSI engine producing 81 kW (110 hp), the A3 Sportback g-tron sets standards for efficiency and economy. Fuel costs to the customer are roughly EUR 4 per 100 kilometers (62.1 mi). Thanks to the four-cylinder engine’s configuration for bivalent fuels, its range is over 400 km (248.5 mi) in the NEDC with natural gas fuel. When powered by gasoline, the driving range is extended by as much as an additional 900 km (559.2 mi).

More power: the new Audi S3
7 kW (10 hp) features more power and, in conjunction with the S tronic, 20 Nm (14.8 lb-ft) higher torque – Audi has done one better with the Audi S3*. Moreover, Audi engineers have integrated S3-specific control for the Electronic Stabilization Control (ESC) and the multi-plate clutch. The result: even greater driving dynamics, driving pleasure and safety.

The 2.0 TFSI now outputs 228 kW (310 hp) and with S tronic delivers 400 Nm (295.0 lb-ft) over the large range of 2,000 to 5,400 revolutions per minute. The S3 Sportback, the S3 Sedan and the S3 Cabriolet also profit from the extensive new features.

2017 Audi S3
- image 671905

The new Audi A3 series goes on sale in early May, with the first deliveries to customers occurring in summer. The basic price for the Audi A3 with the new 1.0 TFSI engine is EUR 23,300 in Germany.

View the full press release Hide press release
Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: