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Paris show: 221kW Audi S3 punches above its weight

Grenade: Audi will offer one of the highest specific outputs for a production car with its new S3 hot hatch, which pumps out 110kW per litre.

Fast yet frugal Audi S3 hot hatch features new 221kW/380Nm 2.0 turbo four

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Audi logo21 Sep 2012

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

AUDI’S new S3 hot hatch will feature some serious firepower under the bonnet with a new 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine generating more than 110kW per litre.

That beats the Alfa Romeo QV and Mini John Cooper Works hot hatches, which achieve around 100kW per litre, although next year’s Peugeot RCZ R is set to top the Audi with 121kW/L and the Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG is expected to pump out around 125kW per litre.

To be publicly unveiled in three-door hatch guise at next week’s Paris motor show, the S3 will eventually join the Australian A3 line-up – however we will only receive the yet-to-be-revealed Sportback five-door version here.

Despite the wick on the 221kW/380Nm hand grenade being turned up so high – producing 17 per cent more power and 15 per cent more torque than its predecessor – the new S3’s fuel consumption will be almost 17 per cent lower than the outgoing car, at 6.9 litres per 100 kilometres.

Quattro all-wheel-drive and a standard launch control system help achieve the dash from rest to 100km/h in 5.1 seconds with the six-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission, half a second quicker than the current S3.

Volkswagen’s Golf R shares its 188kW/330Nm engine and all-wheel-drive system with the current S3, so it fits that the seventh-generation Golf flagship will continue the tradition and take the new powerplant.

Audi says the new engine was developed from scratch, sharing only its 1984cc displacement with the old unit, and can sustain peak torque output from 1800rpm to 5500rpm, with peak power arriving at 5500rpm before a 6800rpm redline.

Like the new 1.8-litre turbo-petrol engine that debuted on the facelifted A5 in February, the S3’s long-stroke 2.0-litre powerplant combines direct and indirect fuel injection to ensure optimum combustion characteristics depending on engine load.

Precise valve control and a relatively high compression ratio for turbo-petrol engines of 9.3:1 is combined with an exhaust manifold that is integrated with the cylinder head and has its own cooling jacket, meaning the engine can be run leaner at high loads to save fuel during full-bore aggressive driving.

This is also helped by a high-performance water-to-air intercooler that brings down intake temperatures from the turbocharger, enabling more air to be crammed into the combustion chambers.

To ensure longevity while generating all that power and torque, the engine has a reinforced cast-iron block inside which are strengthened piston and connecting rod assemblies, while the cylinder head is made of high-strength lightweight aluminium-silicon alloy that can resist high temperatures.

Despite all this, the engine weighs more than five kilograms less than the previous S3’s unit.

Audi says the engine’s note is “emotion-inspiring and sporty” with plumbing to transmit the commotion of combustion into the cabin, while the active exhaust system has valves to emit a “sportily sonorous sound” from the quad tailpipes at higher revs.

The S3 sits 25mm lower than the standard A3 and rides on 18-inch alloy wheels with five parallel spokes and low rolling resistance tyres, behind which are 340mm front brake discs with black S3-branded callipers.

Audi’s Drive Select system is standard and offers efficiency, comfort, automatic and dynamic modes that alter the throttle, steering and transmission responses to suit the driver’s mood and road conditions.

An optional electromagnetic damper system combines with Drive Select to alter the firmness of the suspension.

Like the A3 on which it is based, the S3 weighs less than the outgoing model to the tune of 60kg, resulting in a 1395kg overall mass.

A special radiator grille features an aluminium-look frame and cross bars with matte platinum grey inlay, while the sportier front bumper has larger air intakes with aluminium-look ribbing and gloss black honeycomb insertsSilver door mirrors and deep side skirts mark the S3 out as something special from the side while a large roof spoiler adds to the effect while increasing downforce and the faux-diffuser rear bumper has outlets for the four chrome exhaust tips.

Inside are an S3-exclusive turbo boost gauge and aluminium-look paddle-shifters for cars equipped with the optional S tronic transmission, while the pedals and foot rest are made from aluminium and S branding is dotted around the cabin.

Heavily-bolstered sports seats with extendible thigh supports can be trimmed in a combination of pearl Nappa leather and cloth, perforated suede-like Alcantara and Pearl Nappa leather or a combination of Velvet leather and Fine Nappa leather.

An all-black interior – including the headlining – has contrasting stitching as standard, while a two-tone black and red finish is optional.

All the high-tech standard and optional features of the new A3 are offered on the sports flagship, such as adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assistance, blind spot monitoring, road sign recognition, autonomous braking, LED headlights, Bang and Olufsen premium sound system and on-board Wi-Fi hotspot.

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