Audi S3 Sportback

New Audi S3 gets more power and borrows parts from the RS 3

Does this mean there's an even more powerful Audi RS 3 on the way?

The entry point to Audi’s high-performance models, the S3, has been updated for 2024 with more power, a host of tech upgrades and an aggressive look that’s designed to signal its intent.

The new hot hatch slots into the line-up below the RS 3, but while that car has five-cylinder power, the S3 features a traditional turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It’s the same powerplant used in other Volkswagen Group hatchbacks, such as the VW Golf GTI and Golf R, Skoda Octavia vRS, Cupra Leon, plus a range of powerful SUVs.

For the 2024 update, the S3’s engine is tuned to produce 328bhp, which is up by 12bhp over the outgoing model, and there’s up to 310lb ft of torque, an increase of 15lb ft. This gives the new Audi S3 a 0-62mph time of 4.7 seconds, while the top speed is (an electronically limited) 155mph.

Visual makeover

As before, the S3 comes in five-door Sportback hatch guise and as a four-door saloon.

To help distinguish this more powerful S3 from the rest of the range, Audi has given it a new grille design flanked by reworked LED headlights that feature a new daytime running light signature.

Each lamp unit is made up of 24 “pixels”, and these can be configured to show four different patterns while also offering new light themes when locking or unlocking the car.

At the back, the LED taillights offer a similar show depending on what setting is chosen.

As well as a new grille, there are updated air intakes, while 18in or 19in wheels are available, the latter as an option that can be enhanced with Falken tyres designed for dry road use, further improving grip and traction when conditions permit.

The rear bumper features a new design, with a lower insert that uses the same L-shaped style as the S3’s grille up front. As is traditional with S-badged Audis, the S3 features quad exhaust tips arranged in two pairs protruding from either end of the rear diffuser. For enhanced aural thrills to go with the new looks, Audi will offer a titanium exhaust system as an option.

Paint options have been revised, and new metallic hues District Green, Ascari Blue and Progressive Red will be offered, while matte Daytona Gray will be available for the first time on this car.

Upgrade for the cabin

Stepping inside, the S3 features new cabin lighting, minimal chrome trim and new fabric inserts for the doors and passenger-side dashboard. These feature Dinamica — Audi’s name for its synthetic suede upholstery — which also clothes the sports seats. They get leather bolsters, though, and hide is used to trim the flat-bottomed steering wheel.

As before, there’s a 10.1in touchscreen display, while in front of the driver is Audi’s neat Virtual Cockpit digital instrumentation. This offers a range of configurations, while online services and on-screen apps can be added to the S3 by owners at a later date, without the need to connect a smartphone.

Borrowed rear axle from the RS 3

As well as having more power, the new Audi S3 comes with a revised drive system. Quattro four-wheel drive is present as before, but Audi Sport’s engineers have boosted the S3’s dynamics by adding a rear torque splitter. This system was first seen on the RS 3, and it offers variable torque (twisting force) distribution between both rear wheels.

In a straight line with normal grip, the system distributes power equally between the rear wheels, but in corners it can deliver more power to the inside or outside wheel, depending on the car’s drive setting.

These are chosen via the Drive Select buttons on the dashboard, with the standard A3’s Efficiency, Dynamic, Comfort, Auto and Individual settings joined by a new Dynamic Plus mode. As with the RS 3, the latter setting sends more power to the S3’s rear axle, and then to the outer rear wheel to promote oversteer, though the electronics help to prevent a full spin.

As well as quattro four-wheel drive, the S3 comes with an enhanced seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch gearbox that delivers faster shifts, a turbo that is kept spinning for longer to offer quicker response, suspension that has been lowered by 15mm over the standard A3 to enhance cornering ability and further upgrades to the suspension designed to  boost the car’s agility and steering response.

Finally, there are 357mm drilled and ventilated disc brakes with revised two-piston callipers for even greater stopping power.

Prices for the new Audi S3 haven’t been confirmed for the UK, but order books are scheduled to open in the second quarter of 2024.

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