28 Oct 2012

2013 Audi S3 - will it finally beat the competition?

The current Audi S3 is a hot hatch that does 0-60 in 5.8 seconds and has 265bhp.  The 2013 Audi S3 will be faster, more powerful and lighter.  Will it beat the competition from BMW and VW?

 In the past the Audi S3 has been overshadowed by the other performance cars in Audi's range.  From the V8 in the old S4, through the twin turbo monster RS6 through, even to its sibling, the RS3 - although availability of that comes along in dribs and drabs.

The most recent incarnation of the S3 was actually pretty good - 265bhp from the 2.0 litre 'high output' turbocharged engine, along with the fact it was fairly lightweight (kerb weight - 1495kg) gave it 0-62 in  5.8 seconds.  But it's star never shone.  Perhaps because it was slightly overshadowed by the BMW M135i - if you could live with the BMW's looks.

We've always fancied small Audis over BMWs though.  Partly because Audi's Quattro system just gives more control, grip and fun in most real world conditions, partly because the chassis and steering are better than most people give it due, and partly because BMW haven't designed a good looking compact car since the E46 M3 Coupe.

So it's good to know that Audi are stepping up to the plate with the 2013 incarnation of the S3.  Faster, lighter, more powerful and more economical than it's predecessor, the 2013 Audi S3 also looks the business.

The first incarnation S3 was far too bland.  In four door form it could hardly be differentiated from the rest of the humdrum A3 range and was outshone by VW with their R32 - and even the V6 4Motion - whose V6 engines out-torqued the turbocharged 1.8 in the S3.  Recent S3's have been much more involving, and pleasing to the eye.

The latest involves subtle, yet striking, differences to the A3 with an aluminium grille, 18-inch five spoke wheels, extended side sills, a new rear bumper and diffuser, aluminium mirrors and four exhausts tips.  Inside the S3 gets an all black interior with Nappa leather sports seat and various S3 logos and touches.

The 2013 S3 looks set to beat the Golf at it's own game.  It comes with a new, longstroke 2.0TFSI engine that produces 296bhp, 280lb ft of torque and does 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds and, of course, it has four wheel drive as standard.

Manual or dual-clutch auto transmissions will be available, both with 6 speeds.  The auto actually accelerates faster than the manual. The weight is down to 1395kgs - which is phenomenal given all the regulations a modern, mass produced car has to satisfy.  Economy is quoted at 40.9mpg on the combined cycle - very impressive.

The 2013 S3 will get Audi's Drive Select system which means the driver can alter throttle response, steering weight and shift point (with the auto gearbox).  Also, the exhaust features a flap, as in the Jaguar XKR-S, to improve the exhaust note.  This works a treat on the Jaguar.  We're looking forward to hearing the Audi in action.

In fact, on paper, the only fly in the ointment will be that the S3 gets the, now standard, electronic parking brake.  Which is a bit of a let down.

The new S3 will arrive in Audi dealerships in early 2013.  The price in Germany is €38,900 (£31,200) but is yet to be announced in the UK - although £31,000 is rumoured.  Which means the Audi S3 will really take the fight to the BMW M135i