The peppy Audi S3 is the latest car to join our long-term fleet — but we won’t just be keeping an eye on its performance, even though it has already raised a smile on my face — we’ll be seeing how practical this four-door is too.
My early impressions of it are positive but it will only be after the next few weeks that I will be able to form a proper opinion on this car which for 2017 has undergone a minor update.
It retains the overall shape but it does look a little more aggressively styled now. Audi borrowed heavily from the new-generation A4 and this is evident mostly on the front end, with the bumper now looking sharper, packing larger headlights, and the trademark hexagonal grille now wider than before. The rear of the car is also quite striking (it has new taillights with horizontal LED strips, a reshaped bumper, and a new diffuser with larger fins), but as for the cabin, it appears as if Audi did not make any changes. That said, it still looks fresh and sporty (the red trim on the dashboard and around the AC vents and window frames is a nice touch and gives the S3 a bit of glamour), but it does get some new tech.
Audi’s “virtual cockpit” replaces the traditional gauge cluster with a 12.3in TFT screen. It has multiple display modes, navigation, audio system, and phone info, while the infotainment system is also updated. The standard 7.0in monitor gives you access to redesigned menus controlled via a rotary/push-button on the centre console and it has a touchpad too.
But, of course, the S3 does not solely rely on an attractive exterior or tech to captivate customers — it has a powerful four-cylinder 2.0-litre turbocharged engine (it is a carryover from last year) generating 290 horsepower mated to a slick seven-speed S-tronic auto. That is plenty of muscle to keep you entertained and with its diminutive dimensions and all-wheel drive quattro system, it should prove ample fun to chuck around… This is going to be quite an enjoyable few weeks.