Recently I had a chance to drive Steve’s Audi S3. Honestly, it was a short drive but I wanted to share how it was as it was uniquely special.
The S3 is the smallest Audi of them all. Based on the MQB platform which is shared across VW and Audi line, the S3 is basically a sedan version of the VW Golf R. Sharing the base chassis, engine, and even the all-wheel-drive system. For about $6000 more than the Golf R, the Audi has a better badge and some nice options goodies that separate the two. The model we have here is the Technik model which has one of the coolest features to find in a modern vehicle, the virtual cockpit.
Overall the s3 looks like any other Audi. Essentially the bigger the number it just means how long the car is, most people can not distinguish an Audi A3 to the A4 and even the A6 they all look very similar it’s just a bit bigger, longer and more powerful. Starting with its angular headlights the proportions on the car looks great with a wide and mean stance, from the side though the S3 looks a bit compacted. It’s reminiscent of the old Audi 90 from the earlier 90s with small rear doors and a small rear deck. With smaller exterior proportions the inside is done take a small hit, the front seats are comfortable with room to move in the car’s bucketed seats. The rear, however, is cramped, people can fit but just a squeeze. With the slanted roofline, it doesn’t help with the rear headroom as well as the car’s smaller rear windows and high beltline it can be a bit claustrophobic. Sitting in the driver seat, the S3 can immediately bring a level of luxury unmatched from lesser manufacturers. The virtual cockpit display is wide and large with deep blacks and bright backlight to help see no matter the condition. With selectable modes, the display can opt for a really big map or a really big tach and some other modes in between. It really comes down to the user’s choice here. Other than the cluster the rest is pretty typical Audi, with the MMI controller falling neatly in the raised centre stack and the display mounted in the centre which can be hidden. Other manufacturers should take note of this, with a hideaway screen the dash is clean with nothing to obstruct vision. The seats are bucketed well to support the front passengers pretty well with heavy bolstering on the sides however for the people out back just hold on to the conveniently placed grab handles on the doors as the cushion is relatively flat.
Out on the road at low speeds the S3 drives like another VAG group vehicle. It’s planted and surefooted with the aid of adjustable dampers, the ride can be changed from comfort to sport and it’s actually a pretty big difference. Steve decided to lower the vehicle 2 days into ownership so he slapped a set of H&R springs on it to make the ride height more acceptable. Because of the limited time and I didn’t want to damage a week old car we only drove it around the block and got a small feel but it’s clear that they have put a lot of work into this platform.
All in all, I wasn’t able to truly enjoy the vehicle’s dynamics or engine but in the short drive, it made me grin and in any sports sedan that’s what it’s all about.