Sizzling hatch Audi S3 Sportback

30 October 2008
, Herald Sun

The Japanese brands like Subaru and Mitsubishi give you a choice of both from the all-wheel drive WRX and Lancer Ralliart to the pipping hot STi and Evo.

The Europeans find a middle ground with cars like Volkswagen's R32 and the silky 3.0-litre sixes that BMW slots into things like the 130i.

Audi's distinctive S3 three-door leans towards the pipping hot category.

Now the S3 range has just gotten a whole lot warmer with the arrival of the five-door S3 Sportback.

Priced at $68,310, the S3 Sportback is $1907 more than the three-door and a whopping $11,820 more than VW's R32 all-whee drive five-door hatch.

Along with the extra doors, the S3 Sportback is available for the first time with Audi's magnetic ride system and a parking assist system similar to that available in some Volkswagen models.

The Sportback shares its turbo-charged direct injection 2.0-litre four cylinder with the three-door, mated to Audi's quattro Haldex all-wheel drive system and a six-speed manual transmission.

An electronically-controlled, rear-mounted hydraulic multi-plate clutch, distributes the torque as required.

The 2.0-litre delivers 188kW at 6000 revs and 330Nm between 2500 and 5000 revs.

The Sportback can hit 100 km/h in 5.8 seconds and has an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h.

Despite the grunt, the high-tech four delivers a combined economy figure of 8.5 litres/100km.

Apart from the engine, the five-door shares much underneath with the three door, from its aluminium swivel bearings and wishbones that reduce unsprung weight to the stiffer chassis bearings, 25mm lower ride height, beefy brakes and electro-mechanical steering.

At 4303mm the five-door is 72mm longer than its three-door stable-mate and 3mm higher while width remains the same at 1765mm.

Visually, the Sportback shares the “S” styling cues of its three-door brother including the chrome-plated radiator grille, vertical double bars, and a front bumper with powerful spoiler lip.

The foglights get chrome rings, there's a platinum grey rear diffuser and twin oval exhausts at the back, along with redesigned tail-lights.

S-specific exterior mirrors with indicators round out the design. Fitted as standard are new S design 18-alloys and Xenon-plus headlights with LED daytime running lights.

Inside, there are Nappa leather sport seats, S design multi-function leather sports steering wheel, Bose stereo speakers and Bluetooth.

Aluminium-look pedals and door sill strips complete the look.

There is a full complement of safety gear, from airbags to electronic stability control incorporating anti-skid brakes, traction control, and an electronic differential lock.

The S3 Sportback goes on sale next month.

Audi Australia expects the five-door to account for almost 70 per cent of all S3 sales over the next 12 months.

Since 1999, 650 S3s have been sold nationally.

The current generation S3 three-door, which was launched mid-2007, has sold more than 260 to date.

The magnetic ride suspension is a $2400 option, along with the $950 parking assist system.