With more power and torque than before as well as the introduction of the torque splitter, the new S3 Sedan and Sportback represent a significant leap forward in the performance stakes.

9 April, 2024

The Audi camouflage livery has come off the new S3 models to reveal the sharp new styling of these compact performance models. First teased in February, the S3 Sedan and S3 Sportback not only sport distinctive new styling, but also place a heavy emphasis on increased performance, with more power and torque as well as the inclusion of the torque splitter technology first seen on the top-of-the-range RS3 models.

At a glance the styling is sharper and more purposeful than before, with the frameless Singleframe grille styled flatter and wider, accentuating the car’s width. New L-shaped design elements have been used in the grilled and give it a distinctive new, more aggressive look – this pattern also mirrored on the rear apron sitting above the distinctive ’S’ quad exhaust tips. An optional performance exhaust system, which delivers a more voluminous sound, features a titanium silencer. 

The front end also features huge air intakes sitting on each side of the aforementioned Singleframe grille, while new headlights and daytime running lights also form part of the distinctive new front end as well as allowing the choice of up to four digital daytime running light signatures – a first for A3 series models.

The overall effect, while an evolution of the celebrated S3 design, has a ‘harder edge’ than before and goes hand in hand with the significantly upgraded sporting credentials of the new S3. No slouch before, the new S3 turns things up considerably, with its 2.0-litre TFSI engine producing 245kW of power and 420Nm of torque, these new S3 models are the most powerful S3s ever produced – up 17kW and 20Nm on the previous models. With peak torque available between 2100 and 5500rpm, 0 to 100km/h in 4.7 seconds and a governed top speed of 250km/h, the performance offering is impressive, but it is the way that the handling dynamics have been sharpened that truly elevate these S3 variants above any that have come before.

Shift times from the already lightening fast seven-speed S tronic transmission have been halved, while suspension changes, bigger brakes, new optional rubber and the inclusion of the torque splitter and a new dynamic plus mode in the Audi drive select make for a more dynamic driving experience in the right conditions. Depending on the driving situation and the selected drive mode, the torque splitter uses an electronically controlled multiple disk clutch on each drive shaft to optimally distribute the torque between the rear wheel on the inside and the outside of the curve.  

In addition to the new dynamic plus mode, the Audi drive select features five other drive modes – auto, comfort, dynamic, individual, and efficiency – giving the driver complete control over vehicle functions and allowing them to tailor drive to best suit the conditions and the desired ride. While the standard settings are familiar, the new dynamic plus mode places the emphasis squarely on performance and getting the dynamic best from the drivetrain and torque splitter combination. To do this, the emphasis is on oversteer, with the torque splitter sending as much drive torque as possible to the rear axle and to the rear wheel on the outside of the curve. The electronic stabilisation control (ESC) is automatically active in sport mode and sends modest interventions to depending on the available traction in any given situation. The result of all of these factors – revised steering, suspension, quattro drive, revised transmission and of course the torque distribution – make for a truly immersive, dynamic drive experience and the most compelling S3 experience yet.

Customers can choose to go from the standard 18-inch 225/40 tyres with a choice of two 19-inch variants – 235/35 – available as an option. In Europe these include performance tyres with optimised dry handling and improved braking, although no decision has yet been made on what rubber will adorn the S3s when they arrive in Australia later in the year.

They will however feature the enhanced brake system with larger ventilated discs measuring 357mm up front needed to cope with the car’s increased performance potential. The two-piston callipers at the front are also new and the discs are in fact 4mm thicker than before measuring in at 34mm. Larger brake pads and the larger friction surfaces of the discs also boast higher thermal properties and contribute to the overall superior braking system.

The standard sports suspension too makes its presence felt, lowering the body 15mm over the standard A3 ride height. Wishbones with stiffer bearings and new pivot bearings allow more negative wheel camber and ensure an improved steering response and increased lateral control. This also contributes to the improved grip and the vehicle’s dynamics in corners.

An optional  S sport suspension with adaptive dampers is also available, and has been specially tuned for the torque splitter and the respective Audi drive select modes. In addition a new generation of the electronic stabilisation control is also employed in the new S3 models. Wheel-selective torque control, which selectively brakes the wheels on the inside of the curve slightly while cornering, has also been further developed, as have the traction and deceleration behaviour. 

The interior also reflects the performance nature of the revised S3, with new materials and treatments giving these new models their own distinctive look and feel. One new feature, the fabric panel in the front doors was laser-cut 300 times to give it its unique look, its five segments backlit by a light source in the door panel with dynamic effect. Indeed lighting plays an important role in the sharp interior, with the standard ambient light package plus adding light accents in the storage compartment in front of the gear shifter, on the doors and in the footwell as well as the centre console cup holder and feature contour lighting.

Dark colours with silver accents and aluminium inlays add to the sports feel inside or customers can opt for inlays in Dinamica microfibre or carbon fibre. From the flat-bottomed, multi-function steering wheel to the stainless steel pedals and front sports seats with integrated headrests, the feel and finish is very much performance-oriented. 

Of course that performance extends to the latest in connectivity and automotive technology, with Audi virtual cockpit, 10.1-inch touch display and inductive smart phone charging all standard inclusions. Optional inclusions at launch in Europe include MMI navigation plus in addition to a complete connect portfolio and access to the store for apps which can then be installed directly into the S3’s operating system.

Specification for the S3’s Australian introduction is yet to be confirmed, but along with local pricing, will be announced ahead of the S3 Sedan and S3 Sportback’s scheduled Australian arrival in the second half of 2024.

*Overseas models shown.