With a longer wheelbase than both its predecessor and the three-door S3, the new high performance hatchback variant will give even more priority to passengers and luggage, without giving any less to compelling pace, or surprising economy.
Despite its further improved multi-tasking capabilities over the S3, the capacity for 40mpg-plus remains very much undiminished.
Due to make its debut at the Palexpo in Geneva next month (March 7 to 17) before opening for UK ordering in April and reaching its first UK customers in September, the latest S3 Sportback derives its 300PS and 380Nm from a brand new long-stroke 2.0-litre TFSI engine which shares only its 1,984cc displacement with its predecessor. Peak power is available at 5,500rpm, and peak torque between 1,800 and 5,500 rpm, and when linked to the S tronic twin-clutch transmission the S3 Sportback can use these to deliver a 5.0-second sprint to 62mph on the way to a governed 155mph top speed (5.5 seconds with the manual transmission). Combined fuel economy stands at 40.9mpg (manual 40.4mpg).
The powerful four-cylinder engine bristles with new technologies which help to push the S3’s boundaries in terms of both output and economy. These include the use of both direct and indirect injection, the integration of the exhaust manifold into the cylinder head and the use of innovative thermal management for faster warm-up. Two balancer shafts rotating at twice the speed of the crankshaft take care of refinement, but thanks to an electromechanical actuator in the bulkhead the cabin is filled with just the right amount of sound, with just the right sporting tone. The exhaust system also includes a sound flap that opens at certain engine speed ranges to give this even greater depth.
As is customary for ‘S’ models the S3 Sportback is quattro permanent all-wheel drive-equipped. The latest incarnation of the system, with redesigned multi-plate clutch, enables the sophisticated S sports suspension with its McPherson-based front and four-link rear configuration and wider front and rear tracks to discharge 300PS without drama. It also gives the new variable ratio progressive steering system the freedom to deliver improved weighting, feedback and feel when cruising and attacking tight corners. In the straight-ahead position the new system draws no power from the alternator, helping to further improve fuel economy.
As expected the taut and muscular body of the new Audi S3 Sportback incorporates the time-honoured S model hallmarks. The S-specific single-frame grille has an aluminium-look finish and matt platinum grey inserts. Its horizontal double bars also have an aluminium-look finish. The newly designed bumpers feature aluminium-look double ribs integrated into the lateral air inlets. Pronounced edges frame the large air inlets with high-gloss black honeycomb inserts. Additional implied air openings are located close to the wheels.
In profile, the aluminium-look exterior mirrors and the pronounced side sills catch the eye. The rear bumper has also been redesigned. The platinum grey diffuser houses the exhaust system’s four oval tailpipes, which feature chrome tips. A large roof spoiler generates downforce on the rear axle.
S badges adorn the rear and the single-frame grille. Highlights among the 14 colours available for the Audi S3 are the exclusive crystal-effect finishes Panther Black and Estoril Blue.
The standard xenon headlights with their LED daytime running lamps incorporate Audi adaptive swivelling cornering lights for improved corner illumination. These can be upgraded with special lighting functions for urban, extra urban and highway driving, as well as for junctions and tourist attractions. When combined with the front-facing camera, the light-dark boundary of the headlights is automatically and steplessly adjusted for substantially improved visibility and safety.