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

Launch Story

Audi logo25 May 2009

By LUCIANO PAOLINO

AUDI has continued its rollout of sporty S3 models with the introduction of the Sportback S-tronic.

For those who are not up with Audi-speak, this is an automatic five-door version of the popular hot hatch.

Audi introduced a three-door manual S3 in 2007, followed by the manual five-door Sportback in late last year, but this is the first time the S3 has been available with an automatic.

The S-tronic transmission is a dual-clutch unit with six speeds that uses electro-hydraulic actuation for lightning quick changes. It arrived in the Audi range five years ago, and while more brands are introducing dual-clutch automatics, this S-tronic is still as good as most of them.

Audi has set the price of the new five-door Sportback S-tronic at $71,010*, which represents a $2700 premium over the manual S Sportback.

The three-door manual S3 remains the price leader at $66,403*.

Audi Australia expects to sell about 200 Sportback S-tronics each year, representing about 65 per cent of S3 sales.

Other than the addition of the automatic transmission, the S3 Sportback S-tronic is identical to the manual version.

That means it runs the same acclaimed direct-injection TFSI 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 188kW at 6000rpm and 330Nm of torque all the way through from 2500rpm to 5000rpm.

This engine produces slightly more power in most overseas markets but has been detuned for local use, as Audi in Germany still views Australia as a ‘hot’ country with an increased risk of temperature-related mechanical strain.

Even so, the engine still requires 98 RON premium fuel.

The compact unit weighs just 152kg which not only helps limit the weight at the nose of the car, but also helps it post healthy 0-100km/h sprint times.

The S-tronic transmission is able to shift faster than a human using a regular manual gearbox, allowing the auto S3 to dash to 100km/h in 5.6 seconds – 0.2 seconds quicker than the manual.

The manual Sportsback S3 is no gas guzzler, especially when you consider its performance, using an average of 8.5 litres per 100km, but the S-tronic is leaner still.

It uses an average of 8.3 litres a 100km and produces 195g/km of CO2 emissions.

All S3 models run the constant quattro all-wheel-drive system which uses a rear-mounted electronically controlled hydraulically actuated Haldex clutch to distribute the torque between the front and rear axles.

They are also equipped with an electronic differential lock for maximum drive out of corners

S3 models use the same basic suspension set up as the A3 – front McPherson struts and four-link rear set-up, but with some improvements, including some aluminium front suspension components, new front axle bearings and firmer front and rear springs and dampers.

This means the S3’s body sits 25mm lower than the A3. T track is also slightly wider, and 18-inch alloy wheels with 225/40 tyres are standard.

A chrome grille, dual oval exhaust tips, S specific wing mirrors and a sports body kit, including a roof mounted spoiler, add to the muscular look.

A full safety suite, including ESC, traction control, anti skid brakes and six airbags, is standard.

Audi also upgraded the brakes, with larger ventilated discs and more potent callipers and higher performance pads Retuned electric assisted steering give it a weightier feel.

Standard equipment includes Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, cruise control, a three-spoke leather steering wheel, climate control, a Bose sound system and leather sports seats.

*Due to confusion over ACCC pricing policy introduced on May 25, 2009, car companies are taking the view that it is no longer legal to supply the media with recommended retail car prices. GoAuto will continue to supply indicative prices (when we can get them) to assist consumers in their buying decisions during this period of confusion. Meanwhile, buyers should be aware that additional fees and government charges on registration of the vehicle of some thousands of dollars can be charged on top of these prices. Until the industry can resolve this issue with the ACCC, car buyers are advised to contact their car dealer to confirm prices.

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