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Audi S3 Sportback 2014 review

EXPERT RATING
7
The line between Audi’s high performance RS and the "lesser" S models seems to be blurring if the new S3 Sportback is any guide

The line between Audi’s high performance RS and the "lesser" S models seems to be blurring if the new S3 Sportback is any guide. Now in its third generation, the new hot hatch delivers up a level of performance you used to see only on Audi’s with the RS name.

It could become a problem for Audi buyers who might ask themselves: "Do I really need a 10/10ths car when something like the S3 Sportback gives me 9/10ths at a lot less money?"

PRICE / FEATURES

In this case, that’s a tempting $59,900 but Audi can fix that quick with a range of packs and options to escalate the price. Still, the stock car is generously equipped and goes like the clappers – in a straight line, braking and around corners.

Inside is typical Audi - clinically stylish with classy materials, design and finishes though there’s a little too much outmoded brushed aluminium for our taste.

There’s leather everywhere and plenty of kit including a large touch screen, high-end satnav, full digital connectivity, heated front sports seats, flat bottom multi-function wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio as well as music interface, dual-zone climate control and auto wipers and lights.

DESIGN / STYLING

Looks the biz’ too with more of an RS appearance about its flanks. Weight has been pared back some 70kg over the previous model at 1425kg. It has a family Audi look to the sheet metal and is a cross between a hatchback and a wagon. The body is handsome from any angle particularly the rear where four exhausts poke out. The front has an aggressive look heightened by a LED driving light array and big multi-frame grille.

ENGINE / TRANSMISSION

Plenty of sweet sounding power comes from the 2.0-litre turbo, petrol, four-cylinder engine that boasts a swag of efficiency boosting technology such as direct injection and variable valve timing and lift. They even thermally manage the donk to ensure it’s operating most efficiently. It achieves a sturdy 206kW/380Nm output while sipping 98 at the rate of 6.9-litres/100km.

Drive goes to all four wheels through Audi’s quattro drive system and a choice of six speed manual or S-tronic dual clutch manumatic. Our drive car was a manual model capable of putting away a 0-100kmh sprint in a quick 5.4 seconds. The S-tronic does it in 5.0 flat. Launch control is part of the package as is drive select that gives the driver a choice of modes between comfort and dynamic feel.

It changes the throttle, steering and gear calibrations. Safety is rated at five stars with some driver assist features though you’ll need to spend an extra couple of grand to get the Assistance package with adaptive cruise, lane assist, pre-crash preparation, side assist and auto high beam.

DRIVING

Wow, where to start? This is one of the best attainable sporty cars we have driven, and the smartest. The level of performance it delivers is stunning and it has almost the perfect blend of dynamics for mainstream and sporty driving. You don’t need a petrol guzzling V8 barge when something like this will blow it into the weeds.

The engine has superb acceleration from any speed captured brilliantly by the slick shifting close ratio gearbox. We would probably go the S-tronic for city driving benefits but the manual is excellent. Chuck it into a series of tight turns and the S3 whips around like a race car. Jump on the brakes hard and your eyeballs nearly pop out.  Then there’s the unusual exhaust note – nothing like a conventional four banger at all – more like a six in fact.

We achieved the claimed fuel consumption of 6.9-litres’100km without trying too hard. The Bluetooth syncs in a blink, the navi is easy to use and read and the interior is comfortable and engaging while offering plenty of luggage space expandable with folding rear seats.

VERDICT

Yep, love this car.

2014 Audi S3 Sportback
Price: $59,990 (automatic or manual)
Engine: 2.0 litre petrol turbo. 206 kW / 380 Nm
Transmission: six-speed dual-clutch or six-speed manual
Safety: 7 airbags, ABS, Stability control, EBD, TC
Crash rating: Five-star
Thirst: 6.9 litres/100 km
Weight: 1430 kg
Size: 4.3m long; 1.8m wide; 1.4m high
Warranty: Three years unlimited km

Pricing guides

$34,800
Based on 45 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$27,999
Highest Price
$43,888

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
2.0 TFSI Quattro 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP $28,999 – 41,990 2014 Audi S3 2014 2.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs
Sportback 2.0 TFSI Quattro 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP $27,999 – 43,888 2014 Audi S3 2014 Sportback 2.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs
2.0 TFSI Quattro 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP $28,999 – 41,990 2014 Audi S3 2014 2.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7