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Audi’s new S3 here in December from $59,990

Pocket rocket: The Audi S3 will be the hottest member of the A3 range, at least until the as-yet-unseen RS3 emerges.

Australian heat forces Audi to detune new S3, but at $60k it's cheaper than expected


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24 Jul 2013

AUSTRALIA’S pesky hot weather has forced Audi to detune its still-scorching new S3 Sportback five-door to the tune of 15kW over its European cousin.

However, the company balanced this by today announcing a sharper-than-expected $59,990 (plus on-road costs) starting price ahead of its official launch in December.

Not only is this more than $11,000 cheaper than the old S3, it’s also more than $5000 cheaper than the Ingolstadt marque’s official early projection that had this new version starting around $65k.

Keep in mind, too, that those estimates were published in April, when the exchange rate with Europe was even more favourable than it is now.

But while European versions of the third-generation pocket rocket pack a 221kW/380Nm punch from a new Volkswagen Group 2.0-litre turbo, Australian iterations will be scaled back to 206kW/380Nm.

Scorching summer days Down Under have been attributed the blame, with Audi reining the engine in a touch to improve longevity. This was also the case with the previous-generation Audi S3, as well as its VW Golf R sibling.

Fitted standard with a six-speed S-tronic dual-clutch gearbox, the Aussie-spec S3 Sportback can accelerate from 0-100km/h in a claimed 5.0 seconds.

The new all-paw quattro S3 will sit atop Audi’s new A3 range until the even hotter RS3 version arrives next year, and as such will be tasked in the interim with flying the four-ringed flag against the faster BMW M135i and Mercedes A45 AMG.

But while the S3 may lack the punch of the 235kW/450Nm BMW inline-six or the 265kW/450Nm AMG 2.0-litre turbo, its also undercuts them on price by about $5000 and $15,000 respectively.

Audi Australia corporate communications executive Shaun Cleary told us this morning that Audi already has a fair swag of orders locked away, more than four months away from launch.

The company says standard equipment will include Xenon headlights with LED daytime runners, satellite-navigation, park assist with front/rear sensors and a reversing camera, 18-inch five-spoke alloy wheels and adjustable ‘S’ suspension.

The cabin will also get Nappa leather sports seats, an Audi Music Interface with toggle, Bluetooth streaming, dual-zone climate control with rear vents and a leather, flat-bottomed steering wheel.

You’ll also be able to shell out $4990 extra for the S performance package, which adds LED headlights, a Bang and Olufsen sound system, Audi’s ‘magnetic ride’ adjustable shocks, bigger-bolstered seats with a diamond stitch pattern, a different alloy wheels design and red brake calipers.

As we’ve reported, the new model is 70kg lighter than before, thanks to the Volkswagen Group's new modular transverse MQB platform – the regular A3 was the first car to use it – and extensive use of aluminium in the bodyshell.

The previous-generation S3 managed to find nearly 900 buyers in Australia between 2007 and 2012. The new one is not only faster and lighter, but also more than 20 per cent more efficient with a claimed combined-cycle figure of 6.9 litres per 100km.

The company is expected to offer a six-speed manual gearbox alongside a six-speed dual-clutch automatic – notable considering an increasing number of performance cars are being released only with autos.

The company sharpened the handling by shifting the front axle further forward – reducing the front overhang – and by chopping five kilograms from the engine’s weight and tilting the block.

Special sport suspension that lowers the body by 25mm, a 59:41 axle-load distribution front/rear and a speed-sensitive electro-mechanical power steering system also feature.

The understated design is differentiated from the regular A3 Sportback by its more aggressive grille, integrated front air inlets, faux side intakes, aluminium-look side mirror housings, a re-designed rear bumper with a platinum grey diffuser, quad tail-pipes, LED tail-lights and a roof spoiler.

Audi has previously said it will expand its S3 range next year when it launches a sedan version. The regular three-box range gets here in the first quarter, with the S version to arrive, shortly after.

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