As is often the case with auto manufacturers, vehicles in their model inventory seem to invariably move up in status to the level of the next model. In the case of Audi for instance, their A series offerings have stepped up a rung on the model ladder, now on par with what B series models used to be, or at least, so it seems. The 2017 A3 Series includes the A3 Sedan, the A3 Cabriolet, the A3 Sportback e-tron and the high-performance Audi S3 sedan. All are powered by inline four-cylinder turbocharged engines with direct injection.
The A3 sedan and A3 Cabriolet lineup consists of the A3 2.0T with a seven-speed S tronic dual clutch automatic transmission that produces 186 horsepower and 221 pound feet of torque, which starts at $31,200, the A3 2.0T Quattro with a six-speed S tronic dual clutch transmission starting at $34,200 and delivering 220 horsepower along with 258 lb-ft of torque, and the cream of the crop Audi S3, which comes with Quatttro and a six-speed S tronic dual clutch transmission beginning at $42,900. Trim level packages include Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige. The S3 tested here is in Prestige trim.
Setting it apart from the rest of the A3 pack, the Audi S3 sedan increases sporty characteristics adding S model details that deliver greater performance for everyday use. The powerful 2.0 TFSI engine, with Quattro all-wheel drive carries over from the previous model year, producing an impressive 292 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque and achieves a speed of 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds.
The S3’s optionally available Audi magnetic ride sport suspension may be adjusted using the Audi drive select system. Other differentiating S3 details the all-new front fascia comes with a set of Platinum Gray, aluminum-optic double blade bars and the available Audi virtual cockpit has an additional Sport viewing mode that displays a large, central tachometer and a lap timer.
The exterior of the A3 was completely redesigned for 2015, and tailored specifically for the American marketplace. Its length was stretched to 175.5-inches on a lengthened wheelbase, which combined with its width and height displaying a compact, but very sporty persona. The signature Singleframe trapezoidal grill leads off the sleek and aerodynamic profile, which presents a low, stealthy image.
The S3’s interior reflects the athletic exterior, exhibiting a wraparound dash design that incorporates an innovative three-dimensional inlay concept, which surrounds both the driver and front passenger. The craftsmanship of the S3 along with the exceptional fit and finish abound throughout the cabin.
Technology is abundant as well, raising the bar to new heights in what is normally expected from entry-level luxury vehicles. The S3 offers MMI technology, Audi drive select, 4G LTE connectivity and Bang & Olufsen audio system. The MMI operating system features an electronically extending screen that is housed in the console of the center dashboard. A touchpad is offered, which is incorporated into the rotary MMI control wheel. A NVIDIA graphics-processing unit generates complex 3-D images utilized in all online voice control, media navigation and telephone functions. The latest and most advanced version of Audi connect allows for optimum social networking and connectivity.
Basic suspension componentry consists of a MacPherson strut design up front with aluminum A‐arms and a stabilizer bar. Pivot bearings are joined to an aluminum subframe. In the rear is a four-link system utilizing a steel crossmember with springs and shock absorbers mounted separately. The S3 comes with sport suspension calibration and tuning, with available Audi Magnetic Ride. Braking is accomplished through a power hydraulic assisted, dual circuit four-wheel ventilated disc system with a diagonal split, ESP with EBD, ABS, brake servo with dual-rate function, and electronic differential lock.
My test 2017 Audi S3 2.0T Quattro sedan with S tronic transmission was base priced at $42,900, while packages and optional features elevated the final count and amount to $51,725. The exterior was finished in Glacier White metallic, while the interior was executed in Black.
This latest Audi S3 represents the epitome of the class that it falls into. It is visually attractive and appealing, with a sporty aura. It is also available at a very attractive price, especially when taking into consideration its feature and equipment inventory, and its performance capability.
The 2.0 turbocharged, direct injection engine delivers serious acceleration on demand, and the 6-speed S tronic gearbox shifts smoothly up and down through the gears, whether in set in automatic or manual mode.
The seating is both comfortable and supportive, the handling characteristics sporty and precise, and the ride quality is pleasingly compliant without undue harshness. The Audi S3 is a delight to drive, whether simply cruising about town or putting the pedal to the metal. In a final evaluation, it leaves virtually nothing to be desired from an entry-level luxury sedan, and it will certainly more than hold its own in its highly competitive market segment, especially considering its exceptional superiority in terms of price and standard equipment and features. It is unquestionably a highly desirable entry-level luxury sport sedan. The S3’s EPA estimates are 21-mpg city and 28-mpg highway. – or less with a heavy right foot. The most likely view will be of the quad exhaust and LED taillights with dynamic turn signals.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2017 Audi S3 Sedan 2.0T Quattro
Base Price: $42,900.
Price as Tested: $51,725.
Engine Type and Size: 2.0-liter, DOHC, 16-valve TFSI inline four-cylinder with auto Start/Stop feature.
Horsepower (bhp): 292 @ 5,400-6,200 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 280 @ 1,900-5,300 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed S Tronic dual clutch with paddle shifters.
Drive Train: Transversely mounted front engine / Quattro all-wheel drive system.
Suspension: S3 Sport Suspension / Audi Magnetic Ride
Front – MacPherson front struts with lower A-arm and stabilizer bar.
Rear – Four-link rear suspension with separate springs and shocks.
Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel ventilated discs with ABS, EBD and ESP
Tires: Continental ContiSport Contact 235/35 R19 mounted on 5-“V”-spoke alloy wheels.
Wheelbase: 103.8 inches
Length Overall: 175.8 inches
Width: 77.2 inches – with mirrors.
Height: 54.8 inches
Curb Weight: 3,462 lbs.
Turning Circle: 36.1 ft.
Fuel Capacity: 14.5 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 21 mpg city / 28 mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: 0.31
0 – 60 mph: 4.7 seconds – Top track speed=155 (130 mph w/ all season tires)