2017 Audi S3 SedanPosted on April 3rd, 2017
Compact sport sedan with four-season capability
By Nina Russin
The S3 is the performance variant of Audi’s compact sedan family that also includes the A3 and A3 cabriolet. While A3 and S3 share the same basic platform, the S gets a more powerful two-liter engine along with available magnetic sport suspension that instantaneously adjusts to driver inputs and road surface; bigger wheels with summer performance tires and different exterior styling.
Base price for the all-wheel drive sedan is $42,900 excluding the $950 destination charge. Options on the test car include metallic white exterior ($575); 19-inch five-spoke wheels with summer tires and magnetic sport suspension ($1500); navigation with Audi connect infotainment, blind spot monitoring and Audi virtual cockpit ($3000); Nappa leather seating with manual front sport seats ($1450), Bang & Olafsen premium sound system ($950) and sport red brake calipers ($400). Final MSRP is $51,725.
Test drive in Southern Arizona
This week I put the S3 sedan through its paces on highways and surface streets in the Phoenix metro, Chandler and Scottsdale areas as well as rural roads skirting the San Tan Mountains south of town. Aficionados of German sport sedans should find the S3 an appealing package, with its combination of good power, responsive steering and nimble handling. Fuel economy on the test drive was in line with the EPA 24 mile-per-gallon estimate.
The turbocharged two-liter block develops peak torque- 280 pound-feet- as low as 1900 rpm for exceptional acceleration off the line and in the 20-to-50 range drivers use merging into high-speed traffic. Zero-to-sixty acceleration is 4.7-seconds.
When the driver digs into the throttle the exhaust emits an appealing belch: something I discovered during an evasive maneuver when a distracted driver veered into my lane. The S3 sedan develops 292 peak horsepower as opposed to 220 for the A3, offering more muscle on the high end as well.
A six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission delivers crisp shifts similar-to a manual gearbox. An automatic engine-off feature saves fuel when the vehicle is idling at a stoplight. Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system automatically sends engine power to the wheels with the best traction, making the sedan more sure-footed on wet or snow-covered roads.
The electromechanical power steering system is nicely tuned to the car, with plenty of low-end assist and a pleasantly heavy feel at speed. There is a very slight hesitation in on-center response, but it is so subtle that most drivers probably won’t notice it.
The optional magnetic sport suspension uses a rheostatic fluid to make real-time damping adjustments according-to the driver’s style and road surface, combining the nimble feel enthusiasts associate with the brand and the ability to absorb jousts on pothole-filled surfaces in the snow belt. The optional 19-inch wheels and low-profile performance tires give the sedan a fatter footprint for better high-speed cornering.
Visibility around the perimeter is good. A standard rearview camera projects a wide-angle image of the area in-back-of the car on the center stack screen, eliminating blind spots around the rear pillars and below the rear glass.
Optional blind spot monitoring illuminates LED signals in the A-pillars when vehicles in adjacent lanes pass through the driver’s blind spots. It is one of the better systems on the market, without the false alarms some competitive products suffer from. The optional sport seats have rather large side bolsters that interfere with over-the-shoulder visibility: buyers going with the optional seat package should seriously consider the tech option as well.
At night, LED headlamps produce bright beams of light that are close to daylight in color and use less energy than halogen.
Engineers did an excellent job of minimizing wind and engine noise intrusion to the interior. The larger wheel and tire package does produce some noise, but that’s to be expected.
The S3 interior seats up to five passengers, although four will be more comfortable on longer drives. Keyless entry and start saves the driver from fumbling for the key fob after dark, adding a measure of safety in city centers.
I found the power driver’s seat easy to adjust. The sport seats have plenty of lower lumbar and leg support. A flat-bottom steering wheel is a nod to the brand’s performance heritage.
Climate and infotainment functions are easy to reach from either front seating position and intuitive to operate. Redundant steering wheel controls minimize driver distraction. Dual-zone climate controls keep front seat occupants comfortable in temperature extremes.
The sedan’s trunk is plenty big for the weekly groceries, luggage and smaller camping equipment. Cyclists looking for a taller, more versatile cargo area should consider one of the brand’s crossover vehicles.
The Audi S3 comes with eight airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, rearview camera and tire pressure monitoring. The factory warranty includes four years of complimentary roadside assistance.
Audi builds the S3 at its Gyor, Hungary assembly plant.
Like: A beautifully-performing sport sedan in the Audi heritage, with exceptional ride and handling and attractive styling.
Dislike: Expensive option packages add significant cost over the base model.
Model: S3 sedan 2.0T Quattro S tronic
Base price: $42,900
As tested: $51,725
Horsepower: 292 HP @ 5400 rpm
Torque: 280 pounds-feet @ 1900 rpm
Zero-to-sixty: 4.7 seconds
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 21/28 mpg city/highway
Comment: The manufacturer recommends using 91-octane unleaded gasoline.2017, Luxury 2017, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, Audi, auto review, performance, pricing, Quattro, S3, standard safety