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Car reviews - Audi - A3 - S3 Sportback 5-dr hatch

Launch Story

Audi logo31 Oct 2008

By GEORGIA OCONNELL

AUDI has added yet another niche model to its jam-packed Australian showrooms in the five-door S3 hot-hatch.

The Sportback model joins the current-generation three-door S3, which was introduced locally last year.

The new model attracts a $1900 premium over the three-door for a sticker price of $68,310.

Barring the addition of two extra doors, the Sportback S3 is essentially the same as the three-door, except that it is slightly longer and 40kg heavier for a total of 1495kg.

As a result it is 0.1 seconds slower to 100km/h, but still manages the sprint in an impressive time of 5.8 seconds. It has a top speed that's electronically capped at 250km/h.

Both S3s run Audi's celebrated 2.0 TFSI four-cylinder turbocharged engine that manages to pump out 188kW.

This advanced powerplant, which uses direct-injection and a turbodcharger with a maximum boost pressure of 1.2 bar, generates 330Nm of torque all the way through from 2500rpm to 5000rpm.

The four-valves-per-cylinder TFSI engine is also quite economical, with the S3 Sportback using a respectable combined average of 8.5 litres per 100km.

There is a catch though, as the S3 demands pricier 98 RON premium fuel.

At this stage, the only transmission available is a six-speed manual, but a dual-clutch automatic is expected to be added at some stage - although Audi Australia won't discuss when.

The manual gearbox is linked up to the latest-generation quattro all-wheel drive system. It uses an electronically-controlled hydraulic Haldex clutch to split the torque between the front and the rear wheels. If required, this system can send 100 per cent of the torque to the front or rear wheels.

The S3 Sportback is 72mm longer than its three-door sibling, measuring 4302mm from nose to tail. The cars are the same width, but the Sportback is 3mm taller.

Like the three-door, the S3 Sportback's suspension features several lightweight aluminum components to limit the amount of unsprung mass.

It sits 25mm lower than the standard model and also has a sportier tune.

MacPherson struts are used for the front-end, while a four-link independent system is used for the rear.

The S3 Sportback runs new 18-inch alloy wheels and an upgraded braking package with black front callipers featuring S3 emblems and front ventilated discs.

It also has a range of other visual cues to set it apart from standard A3 models, including a chrome grille and foglight surrounds, a bodykit including bumper extensions and a rear grey diffuser, two oval exhaust pipes and redesigned tail-lights and unique exterior mirrors.

Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights are standard, as are Nappa leather sports seats and a leather-wrapped sports steering wheel, while a flat-bottomed version is available as an option.

Comfort features include dual-zone climate-control, a Bose sound system, cruise control, Bluetooth mobile phone capability and rear parking sensors.

Six airbags including curtain airbags are standard, as is electronic stability control.

The S3 Sportback is available for the first time with optional Magnetic Ride Control (MRC), a feature already available in the TT and R8 as well as Australia's HSV models.

This feature sees the shock absorbers utilising synthetic oil infused with tiny iron particles which do not affect the oil flow during normal operation, but align to slow the flow of the oil when exposed to a charge, which in turn stiffens the damping tune. The firmer ride is activated by pressing a button on the dashboard. MRC costs $2400 with the S3 Sportback.

Another option available for the S3 Sportback is Audi Park Assist which, in the right circumstances, can park the car for you. It is able to parallel park as long as it deems there is sufficient space.

Using the information screen it indicates if the parking process can proceed, before the driver engages reverse and the system takes over the steering. The driver must still control the brake and throttle. This system is a $950 option.

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