Ahead of its March 2014 launch date, Audi has now confirmed the prices and details of the S3 Saloon model for the UK.
- Priced from £33,240 On The Road,
- 300 PS 2.0TFSI turbocharged engine,
- Standard quattro all-wheel-drive
- 0-62 mph 4.9 (S tronic) 5.3 seconds (manual),
- Limited 155 mph top speed,
- Over 40 mpg combined fuel economy.
With a £2,000 premium over the already, relatively, expensive hatchback it’s hard to look at the S3 Saloon and call it cheap. It is, however, a handsome devil and looks far more rakish and dynamic than its 3 or 5-door (sorry, Sportback) brethren. Whether a 2.0 litre four-cylinder powered car really needs a quad-exit chrome-tipped exhaust is a matter of opinion; for ESM it leans a little too much on the gauche side of the fence for what is meant to be a subtle vehicle. Xenon headlamps, with the inevitable LED daytime running lights are standard, with a full LED setup on the options list. Sadly, the wing mirrors are now only aluminium look, rather than the genuine metal versions found on S cars of old. A shame, but probably a necessity in modern society.
Regardless of exterior trinkets, the S3 Saloon shares the same 300 PS (295 bhp) TFSI powerplant as the other two versions in the range. Peak torque of 280 lb ft is available from just 1,800 rpm allowing the quattro drivetrain to slingshot the 1,430 kg Saloon to 62 mph in just 5.3 seconds. Opting for the 6-speed S tronic twin-clutch gearbox drops this time to less than 5 seconds; 4.9 to be exact. Both gearbox variants share the same, electronically limited, 155 mph top speed. Along with acceleration, the S tronic also scores slightly over the manual car when it comes to fuel economy. On the EU combined cycle, the manual records 40.4 mpg, whereas the twin-clutch car betters it with 40.9. Like many modern performance cars, the S3 Saloon makes use of an ‘enhancer’ to channel engine noises to the cabin, along with active flaps in the exhaust to create a deeper sound at certain rpm.
Standard fit on the S3 Saloon is Audi Magnetic Ride which uses electromagnetic controlled dampers to alter the stiffness of the suspension. In particular Sport mode is said to make a noticeable difference to the S3’s cornering dynamics. Variable rate electric power steering is said to offer improved feedback and weight, whilst reducing the drain on the alternator to improve efficiency. The brake setup includes black painted calipers, with the S3 logo applied, should there be any doubt any doubt as to what you’re driving.
On the inside, the kit count is almost high enough to justify the S3 Saloon’s weighty price. Dual-zone climate control, Audi Music Interface iPod connection, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth phone connectivity are standard, with a multitude of options available such as 4G/LTE data technology. A flat-bottomed leather steering wheel, aluminium pedals, and heated leather seats compliment the rest of the interior. Grey instrument dials with white needles and, most importantly, a boost gauge also feature in the dashboard. Boot space increases by 50 litres over the regular hatch to a commendable 390 litres.
In short, the S3 Saloon is a handsome and feature packed four-door, which also features performance that would have challenged Subaru Imprezas and Mitsubishi Lancers a decade ago. The growth of Audi is encapsulated, literally, by the fact the S3 Saloon shares many dimensions with the B5 S4 model from the turn of the millennium. Only 31 mm separates the S3 Saloon from the length of the old S4, yet progress means the new car weighs some 100 kgs less. The S3 Saloon packs a 30 bhp advantage over the old stager, and let’s not even bother with talk of fuel consumption or C02 comparisons.
EngageSportMode has little doubt the S3 Saloon will easily add to the 123,000 cars Audi sold in the UK last year, regardless of the price of entry. In fact, given the four-doors better looks, we’d be minded to recommend it over the hatchback offerings. ESM would very much like to see how the Saloon matches up on the UK’s roads. Hopefully March will bring the answer.