The Audi S3 Sportback at a glance
Again with a burner
There it is, the Audi S3 Sportback of the current model generation 8Y (combined fuel consumption: 7.4 l / 100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 170-169 g / km²). Is it even allowed to drive something like that without feeling guilty? No, it is not the well-known climate activists who are causing worry lines on my face. The Audi boss himself is more of a source of annoyance for me, as he recently went to a climate conference in Berlin to look for clean cars (editor’s note: in his eyes this only means electric cars) and the upcoming Advertise the end of the burners.
S3 with the usual sporty performance
Suddenly, the great tradition at Audi with regard to the powerful gasoline engine and – despite all the scandals – clean and economical diesel is forgotten. And so it is somehow no wonder that the new Audi S3 has become what it is. Half a thing. The Ingolstadt-born is by no means a slow car. Its 228 kW / 310 PS are powerful, accelerate the (with driver) a good 1,700 kilo Sportback in under five seconds from a standstill to 100 km / h and let it run gallantly into the limiter at 250 things. Meanwhile, you get the speed captured with a steel brake that is sufficiently dimensioned, at least for public road traffic.
Fine steering, harmonious chassis
The all-wheel-drive compact sports car does more than bravely in bends as well, can be driven very directly through tight chicanes and always remains neutral, always easy to control. The coordination of the standard progressive steering of the S3 is very successful and gets better the faster and more vehemently you circle the car into the bend. The adaptively controlled chassis (optional) nevertheless offers a great spread between comfort and sport, swallows all kinds of road damage in a great manner and is not excessively hard even in dynamic mode.
Powerful 2.0 liter turbo, weak DSG
All of these driving characteristics are underpinned by the powerful 2.0-liter four-cylinder EA888, which can be found in almost every Group model from the Seat Leon to the Porsche Macan. The turbo engine shakes its 310 hp and 400 Newton meters out of its sleeve, but often has to struggle with the unwillingness of the 7-speed DSG. It lingers in idle moments of thought, likes to shift up or down in a hurry and cannot even be chased into the limiter in manual gear. You shouldn’t expect any consumption miracles either. A guideline is a fleet of ten to 12 liters of Super Plus per 100 kilometers.
The thing about the emotional driving experience
Things only get really complicated with the S3 when you come to the engine sound and the general emotional part of such a compact sports car. Because as sober the sound is, the Audi S3 can be moved as cool as it is. Always being the fastest does not automatically trigger a feeling of willfulness. Something more has to come. One could say that the Ingolstadt-based company has always been a bit inferior in this discipline, but can at least score points with the quality of workmanship.
The red pencil becomes visible
Those times also seem to be over, if you take a closer look at the S3. The engine compartment, bonnet and trunk floor are only sparsely painted, the window frames show cold sheet metal in the direction of the interior and the general choice of materials does not seem appropriate for such a premium product. Plastics, sometimes very hard, sometimes very soft, dominate the interior, ornaments are in short supply. An aluminum strip there, a light strip here – the interior is finished.
High price level
None of this would be a problem if Audi did not call for at least 48,000 euros for the S3 Sportback. The well-equipped, but far from fully equipped test car even brings it to over 65,480 euros. Sorry, that’s simply too much for what’s on offer. The fact that, in view of the direct (and indirect) competitive environment, the company delivers a high-traction all-wheel drive and exemplary-to-use premium infotainment by no means outweighs the heavy pricing, especially when compared to some Far Eastern products.
Do you at Audi know that the upcoming drive turnaround towards the e-car can only be financed if you continue to build cars in the here and now that correspond to the brand essence? The Audi S3 Sportback remains a very fast, very precise compact sports car, but it lacks emotions and that certain feeling of willfulness. In terms of driving dynamics, it emancipates itself only in nuances from its predecessor, but no longer shows any advantage in terms of value. In addition, its pricing seems more than self-confident. (Text and image: Thomas Vogelhuber)