Audi has fired the latest shot in the German hot-hatch war, unveiling the all-new Audi S3 ahead of its world premiere at next week's 2012 Paris motor show. And in good news for local fans, the new model looks set to arrive in Australia sans the current car's hot-climate engine detune.
The first images and details of the third-generation S3 come just hours after the Ingolstadt-based manufacturer revealed the new Audi A3 Sportback, which is set to launch in Australia during the second quarter of 2013.
The Audi S3’s new 2.0-litre direct-injection turbocharged petrol engine takes a generational step forward, having been developed from scratch specifically for the new model.
Power peaks at 221kW (300hp) with the engine spinning at 5500rpm, while torque remains constant at 380Nm between 1800-5500rpm. The numbers represent an increase of 22kW and 30Nm over the second-generation S3, and 33kW and 50Nm more than Australia’s current version, which is detuned for our hotter climate.
Audi Australia’s Anna Burgdorf told CarAdvice there have been no suggestions of a special hot-climate detune for our market for the new S3.
“All indications are that we will get the same [221kW] engine [as the one offered in Europe],” Burgdorf said.
She said the Audi S3 would only be offered in the yet-to-be-revealed five-door S3 Sportback body style, which is likely to arrive in Australia in the second half of 2013.
The 2.0 TFSI engine launches the new Audi S3 from 0-100km/h in 5.1 seconds, when teamed with the optional six-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission and 5.4secs with the standard six-speed manual, making it up to half a second quicker than the locally available S3 Sportback.
Both transmissions send drive to all four wheels via the brand’s quattro permanent all-wheel drive system, which Audi says has been optimised to improve corner exit speed and stability on wet surfaces.
Audi says the S3’s handling is more precise than ever thanks to a better axle load distribution. The front axle has been shifted 52mm forward and the new 2.0 TFSI engine is 5kg lighter than before and tilted backwards by 12 degrees.
The subframe, pivot bearings, crash management system, front guards and bonnet are all made from aluminium, saving another 17kg over the front of the car. Overall kerb weight is down 60kg to a maximum of 1395kg.
The new S3 also embraces Audi’s ‘progressive steering’ system, with the steering rack geared so that the ratio can vary. Audi says the result is a steering feel that is “somewhat more indirect around the centre and very direct when steered sharply”.
The Audi S3 rolls on 18-inch alloy wheels and 225/40-series performance tyres. The front is fitted with 340mm brake discs, while black ‘S3’ emblazoned calipers sit at each corner.
Like the A3, Audi drive select allows drivers to vary the characteristics of the accelerator, the boost of the progressive steering and the shift points of the optional S tronic gearbox with five distinct settings: comfort, auto, dynamic, efficiency or individual.
As we’ve come to expect from the German manufacturer, there’s little flamboyance in the styling of the new Audi S3, which shares much with the standard A3.
Distinguishing features include the aluminium-look grille frame and matt platinum grey insert, large air inlets with high-gloss black honeycomb inserts and additional inlets near the wheels, aluminium-look mirror caps, large roof spoiler, and the platinum grey diffuser with four chrome-tipped tailpipes.
‘S’ badges adorn the front and the rear, while Panther Black and Estoril Blue are exclusive crystal-effect finishes in the 14-colour palette.
A number of trim tweaks set the S3 apart from the standard range. The headliner is black with contrast stitching, the instrument dials are grey, the needles are white, the tachometer features a boost pressure indicator, the pedals and footrests are made from bushed aluminium and the S tronic’s shift paddles get a matching aluminium-look finish.
A seven-inch retractable screen facilitates all infotainment functions, including internet access via the Audi connect system and high-performance sound quality through the Bang & Olufsen audio unit.
A number of advanced driver assistance systems have filtered down from larger models, including adaptive cruise control, pre sense with autonomous braking below 30km/h, side assist, active lane assist, traffic sign recognition and park assist.
The Audi S3 will make its public debut in Paris on September 27.