2017 Audi S3 Sedan Review – Australian Drive
Alex Rae’s 2017 Audi S3 Sedan Review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: A well executed blend of performance and comfort without many sacrifices.
2017 Audi S3 Sedan
Pricing From $64,500+ORC Warranty three years, unlimited kilometres Service Intervals 15,000kms/12 months Safety No ANCAP rating Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol Power/Torque 213kW/380Nm Transmission seven-speed dual-clutch automatic Drive all-wheel drive Dimensions 4466mm (L); 1796mm (W); 1392mm (H) Bootspace 390 litres Spare space saver Fuel Tank 55 litres Thirst From 6.5L/100km
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The current generation A3 is about halfway through its life and the latest iteration has received a (minor) facelift. For the S3 Sedan, it also gets updates inside, better standard inclusions and tech, and a little more power too (well, 3kW). However the price has hiked $1100 – but it’s easily justified.
With not many competitors in the small-mid size sports sedan segment, Audi isn’t under pressure to keep up with the game, but that doesn’t mean Audi has taken its foot off the gas pedal when it comes to producing a classy and quick offering.
What is it?
The Audi S3 is built on Volkswagen Group’s MQB platform (shared with VW Golf, Skoda Octavia and upcoming Kodiaq, among others), and adds all-wheel drive, adaptive suspension and a more powerful engine over lower spec A3 models.
Priced at from $64,500 (+ORC, manual or auto), the S3 sedan’s rivals are the likes of the Mercedes-Benz CLA250 Sport ($64,900 +ORC) and Subaru WRX Premium ($47,140 +ORC, auto)… there’s not much else unless you consider hatchbacks like the BMW M140i ($64,900 +ORC) which don’t have the appeal of the sedan offerings.
What’s it like inside?
Following a familiar design featured in most of Audi’s current stable, the S3 has one of the best interiors in its class and provides a surprising amount of spaciousness up front.
Starting with (optional) S sport plush Nappa leather seats with diamond pattern stitching and shoulder inserts, the front passengers are treated to seats that blend hugging bolstering with refined comfort, and the design and implementation of tech has been well thought out.
The driver can attain a nice low hip point in the manually adjustable seat and tilt and reach adjustable steering wheel. The windows around the cabin are low slung too, so if you are dropping the seat for a sportier drive it doesn’t feel like laying in a bathtub.
The steering wheel is constructed of red stitching and firm, tight black leather with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, multifunction buttons and a flat bottom design. It has a very nice feel in the hands and completes the premium driver-centric atmosphere. In the foot well are brushed stainless steel pedals and they didn’t suffer from slipperiness when wet (automatic only tested).
Behind the steering wheel is Audi’s virtual cockpit. This optional dash display is one of the better available and stretches 12.3-inches across, and although it’s four years old now it still looks good. It can be customised to display a traditional style layout, navigation or a combinations of both, however, fuel and temperature remain as real analogue items on either side and are a little less premium in appearance.
In between the front seats are two cup holders and they did well to accomodate take away coffee and 600ml water bottles. There’s enough storage space for wallets and mobiles in the centre console bin and all windows feature one touch up and down winding.
Continuing the tech is a pop-up 7-inch display centrally mounted which can be put out of view when not required. The display is crisp and glossy but curbs glare. Audi’s infotainment system is intuitive to use and allows for input via a well positioned rotary dial and push buttons near the transmission selector or via touchscreen input. This is very handy when using Apple CarPlay.
The infotainment software is based on ‘Audi connect’ which provides access to navigation using Google Earth and Google Street View, or alternatively, it allows for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity via one of the two USB ports in the centre console compartment. Apple CarPlay connects flawlessly and there were no issues during our test.
Both front seats provide ample room for two adults – my six-foot frame seated with plenty of headroom and foot space – however the rear space is similar to that of the hatchback and is better suited for small kids or low distance trips with larger passengers. Nevertheless the rear seats are comfortable and continue the premium appearance of the front pair.
The boot is a modest 390-litre large and not really big enough for the bevvy of gear a family on holiday needs, but practical in most situations. The S3’s narrow width means the boot aperture is small but when it came to fitting a pram it did fit (just).
What’s it like on the road?
The S3 Sedan is positioned as a proper sports car and is powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine which produces 213kW and 380Nm of torque. It’s only 3kW more powerful than the previous S3 but good enough to drop the 0-100km/h sprint from 5.0sec to 4.8sec. More than just numbers, the power is available from early in the rev range and is delivered in linear fashion, providing good acceleration exiting corners and sprinting up to the speed limit.
Around town the S3’s small dimensions make it easy to slip through traffic and negotiate inner-city laneways and the new seven-speed doesn’t suffer from the lethargy felt in the previous six-speed unit. The steering feels light and disconnected at times but it can be changed through drive mode settings, although this only makes the steering feel heavier and doesn’t help to improve precision.
The transmission is mated to Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive and as a package the S3 is a sharp tool on back roads, helped along by effective adjustable dampers. The dampers automatically change viscosity through magnetic energy and do a good job of making less than perfect surfaces feel more supple than they are. The low profile wheels however are a little more jarring and noisy – but mandatory items at this price and expected ‘look’. The cabin is well insulated from most outside noise though.
What the S3 succeeds in is providing a daily driver which doesn’t compromise comfort for a capable weekend sports car. There wasn’t a drastic change from suburbia to hills, and it’s a credit to the S3 that it can serve as a dual purpose vehicle so seamlessly. At the pointy end of performance some more power would be nice, but for the money the S3 is composed and quick.
What about safety features?
The Audi S3 has not been ANCAP rated. It has seven airbags and standard safety features include AEB, brake assist and driver attention assist.
Assistance package adds:
Adaptive cruise control with stop and go, distance indicator, pre-sense front collision warning (upto 200km/h), automatic high beam, active lane assist and hill hold assist.
Why would you buy one?
The S3 provides a more mature appearance than the S3 hatchback and is a viable small family car thanks to a decent boot and enough room in the back for kids. Just don’t expect it to provide the level of spaciousness of, say, the larger A4.
There’s plenty of good tech available inside if you’re prepared to spend a bit more money and the optional Nappa leather interior elevates the premium feel. It lives up to Audi’s S nomenclature and provides levels of grip and composure found in hot hatches such as its sibling the S3 hatchback and Volkswagen’s Golf GTI.
Audi’s 3 year warranty and 15,000km service intervals are reasonable and a 3 year 45,000km fixed servicing option is available.