2015 Audi S3 Sedan Review (Part 2)

9/11/2014 11:34:45 AM
We leave Bruntingthorpe and head out into England's Green and Pleasant Land, otherwise known as the late 1950s. Within 10 minutes we've passed the villages of Peatling Parva, Ashby Magna, and Dunton Bassett, whose one pub, The Dunton Bassett Arms, advertises “excellent Chinese and English food served daily.” The S3's transmission stays transparent in the surreal world, juggling its ratios intelligently. The manual mode works cleanly even when you request multiple downshifts.

Audi S3 rear view

Audi S3 rear view

Sadly the steering doesn't cope as well, revealing something of a split personality. With the Drive Select system in its comfort setting, the electrically assisted feel is old-school- Cadillac light. The front end responds deftly, but almost no sensation reaches your hands through the thick-rimmed wheel. Dynamic goes too far the other way, adding enough resistance to make it feel like Mark Donohue's Sunoco Camaro, but there's no additional feedback.

There's no shortage of grip, however. Even on the B581 between Broughton Astley and Stoney Stanton a road with a surface that feels as if it's just been strafed- the S3's Dunlop Sport Maxx RT tires found epoxy-like levels of adhesion. Indeed, in the manner of fast Audis since time immemorial, the S3 is a sticker rather than a slider. There's no natural movement in the chassis, and, when the limit eventually does arrive (on a particularly demanding 90-degree bend just outside Willoughby Waterleys, whose population peaked in 1851 at 361, if you must know), there’s nothing but well-contained understeer there. It's accurate and very fast, but without the dynamic connection you'd hope for. Surgical, yet also slightly sterile.

Audi S3 back seats

Audi S3 back seats

The ride quality is surface-dependent. Most English back roads have been laid over a combination of Saxon cobbles and dead Romans, and in comfort mode the switchable dampers of our test car struggled to deal with corrugated surfaces. Counterintuitively, changing to the firmer dynamic mode actually seemed to calm things down, although the S3 then became very firm Ove better surfaces. Our test car rode on optional 19-inch wheels; we suspect it will cope better with the 18-inch rims that will be standard in the U.S.

Audi S3 wheel detail

Audi S3 wheel detail

The Audi S3 isn't a straight substitute for the S4, as it lacks its bigger sibling's torque-vectoring differential and six-cylinder soundtrack, to say nothing of the incremental smugness Audi owners must feel with each higher digit. But it may be too close for the comfort of Audi's all-powerful marketing department. Like most small brothers, the S3 is a punchy little bastard, and that's why we like it.


·         Vehicle type: front-engine, 4-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

·         Base price: $41,995

·         Engine type: Turbocharged and intercooled dohc 16-valve inline-4, iron block and aluminum head, port and direct fuel injection

·         Displacement: 121 cu in, 1984 cc

·         Power: 292 hp @ 6200 rpm

·         Torque: 280 lb-ft @ 1900 rpm

·         Transmission: 6-speed dual-clutch automatic with manual shifting mode

·         Dimensions: Wheelbase: 103.6 in; Length: 175.9 in; Width: 77.2 in; Height: 54.8 in; Curb weight: 3300 lb

·         Test results: Zero to 60 mph: 4.4 sec; Zero to 100 mph: 10.8 sec; Zero to 130 mph: 19.7 sec

·         Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 5.6 sec; 1/4-mile: 12.9 sec @ 108 mph

·         Top speed (Governor Limited, Mfr’s Est): 155 mph

·         Braking, 70–0 mph: 160 ft

·         Projected fuel economy: Epa city/hwy: 19/27 mpg; Observed: 23 mpg


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