2017 Audi S3

2017 audi s3 – DOC663900

Last year brought us many new models from Audi, including redesigned versions of the A4, Q7, and R8, and it seems that 2016 will also be packed with new releases from the four-ringed automaker. Among them, we will see the facelifted A3 family, which will include a hatchback, sedan, and cabriolet. While we’ve already seen the hatch and drop-top testing as camouflaged prototypes in 2015, 2016 just brought us the first spy shots of the performance-oriented S3 model. The photos come from Denmark’s Pro-Street and confirm that the S3 Sportback will receive styling cues that already debuted on the redesigned A4.

There’s no word as to when the new S3 Sportback will break cover, but given that the entire facelifted A3 family is likely to debut at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, the performance hatch could show up in Paris this autumn and go on sale by the end of 2016. A U.S.-spec model isn’t likely, given Audi doesn’t sell the A3 hatch in North America, so your only options if you need an S3 in your life is to either get the current S3 sedan or wait until the four-door gets its first facelift, probably sometime in 2017.

Until that happens, let’s have a closer look at the upcoming S3 Sportback and discuss what it will bring to the performance hatch table.

Exterior

Expect even milder modifications around back, where the S3 will only showcase redesigned taillights clusters and a bumper that will be very similar to the previous model.

Not surprisingly, having already seen various A3 prototypes, the S3 test vehicle wears very little camouflage, with black-and-while swirl sheets covering only its front and rear fascias. That’s because the facelift will bring only minor changes to the front and rear, which isn’t exactly shocking given we’re talking about Audi here.

If you’re not familiar with the nips and tucks that usually come with a facelifted four-ringed car, look for the trademark front grille to get sharper edges, a pair of more angular headlamps, and a bumper with revised, larger air intakes.

Expect even milder modifications around back, where the S3 will only showcase redesigned taillights clusters and a bumper that will be very similar to the previous model. The sides will remain unchanged save for the new wheel designs Audi will probably offer with the update.

Interior

While the exterior will get a few modifications, the interior will most likely remain unchanged. If anything, Audi will probably meddle with the instrument cluster and infotainment system, and offer new color choices for the upholstery.

The dashboard will remain simple and uncluttered, with a few controls on the center stack and the large and round A/C vents below the free-standing touchscreen. Although the A3 won’t get the A4’s new dash with the continuous air-strip vent, the compact’s current interior isn’t that bad, and unlike other Audi models, it’s not that dated either.

Like its predecessor, the updated S3 will continue to feature sports seats wrapped in a mix of Velvet and Nappa leather or Alcantara and leather, and a flat-bottom steering wheel. The S sport seats with integrated head restraints, bigger bolstering, and diamond quilting will be offered as an option.

Drivetrain

Audi S3 Sedan

Under the hood, the S3 Sportback will continue to use a turbocharged, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine, but it’s not yet known whether the Germans will meddle with the four-pot for a few extra horses. The current mill cranks out 292 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, which is sent to the wheels through either a six-speed manual transmission or an S tronic automatic gearbox. When paired with the standard manual, the engine enables the hatch to hit 62 mph from a standing start in 5.5 seconds. When mated to the optional automatic, the benchmark drops to only five seconds. Top speed will remain limited to the usual 155 mph.

Prices

Pricing for the S3 Sportback should increase much with the facelift. With the current model available from €40,600 (about $44,250) in Germany, the updated hatch should fetch around €41,200 (around $44,900) before options.

Competition

Volkswagen Golf R

Volkswagen Golf R

Based on the seventh-generation Golf, the current R uses a similar engine as the S3 Sportback and comes with 296 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque on tap. The sprint from 0 to 62 mph takes 5.1 seconds with the six-speed manual and 4.9 seconds with the DSG, making it quicker than the Audi. Also available with all-wheel-drive, the Golf R is pretty similar to the S3 Sportback, so it really depends on which design you like or if you care for the sub-five-second 0-to-62 mph sprint. Pricing for the Golf R starts from €39,000 in its home market. Unlike the S3 Sportback, the Golf R is available in the U.S. from $35,650.

Ford Focus RS

Ford Focus RS

Brand-new for the 2015 model year, the Focus RS is the most powerful hatchback in this comparison, sporting a 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine under its hood. Borrowed from the sixth-generation Mustang but tweaked for the RS, the turbocharged four-banger cranks out 350 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. Naturally, the Focus RS is also the quickest, needing 4.8 seconds to hit 62 mph from a standing start. However, a tenth-second over the Golf R isn’t exactly a lot given that the Ford benefits from 56 extra horses and 70 extra pound-feet. Pricing for the Focus RS starts from €40,000 in Germany and $35,730 in the U.S.

Conclusion

Audi S3

Like most Audi facelifts, the upcoming S3 Sportback won’t bring any surprises to the market, but the mild update inside and out will keep it fresh for another three years or so. While both the exterior and interior are still attractive, the S3 would need a more powerful engine now that Ford has a new Focus RS in showrooms. Sure, there’s always the crazy-quick, 367-horsepower RS3 to consider, but for the price, the less powerful S3 needs a bit more oomph. For starters, it should at least break the 300-horsepower barrier.

LOVE IT

  • Slightly more aggressive design
  • New options

LEAVE IT

  • Needs more power to compete with the Focus RS
  • Slower than most competitors