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First look: Audi's searing new S3

Audi reveals its fully-loaded four-cylinder, the new S3 all-wheel drive hyper-hatch

4 Aug 2006

AUDI continues its assault on the searingly-hot hatch market with the European introduction of the latest in the three-door S3 line.

Taking on board the newly direct-injected 2.0-litre TFSI turbo engine seen elsewhere in the VW-Audi range, the new S3 churns out 188kW and 350Nm to put the previous 1.8-litre version in the shade.

In its final form before being discontinued in mid-2005, the previous S3 produced 165kW and 280Nm.

The Australian version of the new S3 produces a little less than the Euro-spec 195kW, but is still able to reach 100km/h in a Porsche Cayman-like 5.7 seconds and achieve a governed maximum of 250km/h with ease.

This is more than a second faster than the previous S3.

7 center imageThe S3 engine has been significantly worked to reliably produce the extra power and gets things like a stiffened engine block, a new alloy recipe for the DOHC, multi-valve head, larger, 1.2 bar turbo, modified intercooler, stronger piston pins and connecting rods, new exhaust camshaft timing and enlarged cross-section, high-pressure direct injectors.

The TFSI engine’s 350Nm of torque comes in at 2500rpm and continues through to 5000rpm to provide a constant surge of power through to the 188kW maximum. For all this, Audi says the new S3 returns an impressive average fuel consumption of 9.1L/100km.

As before, the full-time quattro all-wheel drive system uses a multi-plate clutch to electronically direct power to where it’s most needed.

The S3 continues with Audi’s six-speed manual transmission, gripping the road with larger, 18-inch wheels wearing 225/40-section tyres.

Sitting 25mm lower than regular A3s, the S3 uses stiffer mounts as well as aluminium pivot bearings and wishbones at the front to reduce weight.

17-inch brakes with sports pads and black calipers bearing S3 emblems provide the desirable street-cred and are designed to contain the S3’s substantial performance.

The S3 now also wears Audi’s full-frame grille, flanked by large air intakes. The side sills have been restyled and a diffuser is built into the rear skirt, which is punctuated by twin oval tailpipes. Aluminium-look painted rearview mirrors and a colour-coded roof spoiler distinguish the S3 from outside.

Inside, there are grabby, side-bolstered sports seats and S3-specific instruments. Floor pedals, shift knob and dash air vents are Audi-style aluminium-look and there are red and silver S3 logos on the (leather rimmed) steering wheel, instrument cluster, gear knob and side sills.

The S3 makes an interesting comparison with the five-door, 184kW/320Nm 3.2 quattro A3 five-door which will presumably benefit from a price advantage of a few thousand dollars and is not hugely behind with a zero to 100km/h potential of 6.3 seconds.

Audi Australia expects the new S3 to arrive here in the second quarter of 2007 and will announce pricing and specification details closer to launch.

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