Earlier this year Audi brought the world the A3 Sedan and now only a few months later the 2014 Audi S3 Sedan celebrates its introduction! We travelled down to the French Cote d’Azur for an exclusive first test of this 300hp four-door sportscar!

Audi is expanding its line-up with new models in an incredible pace as part of the Volkswagen-Audi Group strategy to become the worlds number 1 car manufacturer. The 2014 Audi S3 Saloon is the perfect example of VAG exploring new niche markets – following the trend of downsizing and the global popularity of smaller-, lighter- but not less sporty cars the S3 Sedan fits right in.

The Engine

The Audi S3 Saloon comes with a four-cylinder 2.0 TFSI engine with turbocharging and direct injection. It produces 300 hp is available between 5,500 and 6,200 rpm. It delivers 380 Nm of torque between 1,800 and 5,500 rpm.

The upgraded turbocharger further increases output; it develops up to 1.2 bar of charge pressure and can withstand exhaust temperatures of up to 1,000 degrees Celsius. The electronically controlled wastegate valve operates very quickly and precisely. At part load, it reduces the back pressure and thus the exhaust pressure resulting in reduced charge-cycles.

Performance

Paired with the S tronic, the two-liter engine accelerates the 2014 Audi S3 Sedan from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.9 seconds on its way to an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h. In the NEDC, the four-door sedan with S tronic consumes just 6.9 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers.

Gearbox & Drivetrain

A six-speed manual transmission and the six-speed S tronic are available. The lower gears of both transmissions are tightly spaced for sporty performance. The tall ratio of the top gear lowers rpm and thus fuel consumption. The driver can operate the lightning-fast and nearly imperceptibly smooth-shifting S tronic in either the D and S automatic modes or manually using the optional paddles on the steering wheel.

For standing starts, Launch Control (only with S tronic) delivers the engine’s power to the road with defined tire slip. Another feature of the dual-clutch transmission is the fuel-saving coasting mode. It is activated when Audi drive select is set to efficiency and the driver takes his or her foot off of the accelerator.

The standard quattro permanent all-wheel drive gives the 2014 Audi S3 Saloon the decisive extra when it comes to traction, dynamics and stability. Its centerpiece is a newly developed, electronically controlled and hydraulically actuated multi-plate clutch; in order to distribute weight more efficiently, it is placed in front of the rear differential. The compact and relatively lightweight clutch distributes the power. Most of it is sent to the front wheels. If traction decreases there, torque is redirected steplessly to the rear wheels.

Chassis & Suspension


The 2014 Audi S3 Sedan was build using as much lightweight construction as possible. Equipped with the manual transmission, the four-door model has a curb weight of just 1,430 kilograms. Ultra high-strength steels are used in many areas of the occupant cell; the engine hood is made of aluminum.

The 2014 Audi S3 Saloon has a balanced axle load distribution of 59 percent to 41 percent between the front and rear axles. The 12-degree rearward inclination of the engine and the front axle located far to the front contribute to this. The subframe and pivot bearings of the front suspension are made of aluminum. The rear axle is a four-link design.

The sport suspension lowers the body of the S3 Sedan by 25 millimeters compared with the A3 Sedan. The 2014 Audi S3 Saloon comes standard with 8 J x 18 wheels in a five parallel- spoke design. Flow forming technology makes them very lightweight. 18-inch wheels in a variety of designs are available as options. 19-inch wheels are also available in combination with the optional Audi magnetic ride damper control system. 225/40 R18 tires are standard.

Design

The Audi S3 Sedan also expresses its dynamic nature visually, with an athletic design and a decisive look. The flat engine hood, the precisely drawn lines, the tautly curved surfaces and the flat roof arch stretch the body visually. The new top-of-the-line model is 4,47 meters long. The long wheelbase provides for a spacious interior and increased balance compared to the A3 hatchback.

Specific details underscore the high-performance character of the Audi S3 Sedan. The S-specific Singleframe grille has aluminum-look, double horizontal bars. A chrome frame surrounds the grille; the insert is finished in matt platinum gray. Aluminum-look double ribs and honeycomb inserts fill the air inlets in the bumper, which are framed with strongly flared edges. Audi offers optional LED headlights for excellent illumination of the road and an unmistakable look.

Aluminum-look exterior mirror housings and the sill strips catch the eye on the flanks of the four-door sedan. The rear bumper has been redesigned, and a subtle spoiler lip provides an aesthetic design feature at the top of the trunk lid. The rear lights predominantly employ LED technology. The platinum gray diffuser has an aluminum-look double bar and four ribs. It encloses the exhaust system’s four oval tailpipes with their chrome tips. Among the twelve paint finishes are the exclusive crystal-effect colors Panther black and Sepang blue.

Interior

The Audi S3 Sedan features an all-black interior, including the standard inlays in matt brushed aluminum. Many of the controls shine in an aluminum-look finish. The dials of the instruments are in an S-specific dark gray metallic finish; the numbers and needles are white. A color driver information system with lap timer is standard.

A leather-covered sport steering wheel is also standard in the 2014 Audi S3 Saloon. Audi also offers a leather-covered, multifunction sport steering wheel with the rim flattened at the bottom, and shift paddles with aluminum details are available as an option in combination with the S tronic. Audi offers optional S sport seats with integrated head restraints and shoulder inserts with diamond quilting.

Driving Experience

For our road test of the 2014 Audi S3 Saloon we head down to the sunny Cote d’Azur in France! Upon our arrival at Nice Airport we are greeted by a range of bright coloured A3 Cabriolets and S3 Saloons. Unlike what you might expect its the A3 Convertible and the S3 Saloon are paired as brothers compared to the regular A3 hatchback and sportback that also form a couple. This means the A3 Convertible and S3 Saloon both share the same design lines and extended wheel base compared to the ‘normal’ A3.

Despite the excellent convertible weather we opt for a Misano Red Audi S3 Saloon and leave Nice Airport behind us. Our particular S3 Saloon is a full option with the six-speed manual transmission. With the double-clutch automatic gearboxes taking the world of sportscars by storm you would almost forget that there was a time you wouldn’t change gear with paddles behind the steering wheel but with a gear stick and clutch. The manual in the S3 is exactly what you expect from an Audi manual gearbox, light clutch and easy transfer.


The first part of our journey takes us along the coast towards Monaco. In convoy with a group of other A3 Convertibles and S3 Saloons we make our way from bay to bay and test the various settings of Audi Drive Select. Like the high-end RS6 and RS7 models you can change various settings for engine responsiveness, sound, suspension and steering over the menu in your car. By default there are three settings, comfort, automatic and dynamic. In Individual you can set your personal preferences so per example sporty sound and throttle responds but suspension in comfort.

The suspension on the Audi S3 Saloon comes with Audi Magnetic Ride that adapts the dampers not just by the settings but also by the quality of the road. The difference between comfort and dynamic is not as great in the Audi S3 Saloon as you would have with air suspension. Still you can feel the suspension tighten and stiffen up significantly when changing to dynamic mode.

Interestingly the Audi S3 Saloon comes with technology that was until recently only available on specific top-of-the-line models like the A8. Systems including adaptive cruise control, lane assist, pre-brake and others are all available on the 2014 Audi S3 Sedan.

Arriving in Monaco we are greeted by a Koenigsegg Agera and realize that the Audi S3 Saloon is clearly over-classed in terms of show-off factor. So we quickly leave Monaco behind us and head into the hills high above the Mediterranean to explore the driving side of the S3 Saloon. We follow the tracks of the legendary Rallye Monte Carlo up to the town of Sospel via the Col de Braus. The Col de Braus features a double dozen hairpin turns with the skid marks of the rally cars still clearly visible on the tarmac.

The manual is 0,4 seconds slower to 100 km/h than the S-Tronic version of the Audi S3 Saloon. And another thing in favor of the S-Tronic is the lack of sound with the manual S3 Saloon that we drove, yes it sounds better than a standard A3 Saloon but lacks volume and a signature tone. Another reason to opt for the S-Tronic is the clean, emotionless power transfer through the AWD system. A RWD car with a manual transmission allows for significantly more control and potential fun over its automatic counterpart but with the Quattro all-wheel drive this is absent. It does have to be said that on the upside this means the car grips and grips and grips with nearly no boundaries.

Driving up- and down Col de Braus we have plenty of fun with the S3 Saloon, so much fun in fact that when we stop for a photo on the way down a small cloud of smoke rises from the brakes. Beside the brakes, which are excellent by the way, we have one more driving component of the Audi S3 Saloon to discuss and that’s the steering. The S3 Saloon comes with progressive steering as standard and has two settings; comfort or dynamic. In comfort the steering is light and fairly direct but slightly artificial, in dynamic the steering becomes significantly heavier but still feels artificial. The same feel can be found throughout the Audi range and although it is not a problem for most, purist will want directer steering with more feedback.

Inside the Audi S3 Saloon the control concept changed compared to the previous generation A3 and other cars in the Audi lineup. With a central control wheel in the center console it is easy to control the MMI multimedia system while driving without taking your eyes of the road, similar to systems in Mercedes and BMW. The dashboard looks very stylish and is a clear upgrade compared to previous generations. The seats are comfortable but we missed the option to increase or decrease the side support in our test car.

Back in Monaco we swap our red manual S3 Sedan for a grey S-Tronic Audi S3 Saloon. The S-Tronic is not only faster but also offers a sportier experience with its better tune and signature exhaust sound when up- or down shifting. This grey S3 Saloon wets our appetite for an even sportier S3 Saloon, a possible RS3 Saloon has not yet been confirmed by Audi or Quattro GmbH although we did receive some hints that this car is being considered or might even be in the works already.

What to spec?

  • S-Tronic Gearbox: Forget the manual, the S-Tronic is a must!
  • Adaptive Cruise Control: Makes long motorway journeys much easier. Especially in combination with active lane assist!
  • Audi side assist and active lane assist: Warns of vehicles behind you and keeps in your lane by active steering.
  • Audi Magnetic Ride: Adapts the damper pressure depending on your preference (comfort or sport) or road condition.
  • MMI Navigation Plus: A must in terms of infotainment!

What about the Competition?

The Audi S3 Saloon has a few things in common with the Mercedes CLA 45 AMG, both use a four cylinder turbocharged engine paired with AWD and target a niche market with small four-door coupés. Until the Audi RS3 Saloon comes the CLA 45 AMG will certainly hold the prize for most powerful car in the segment as the S3 is a good 60hp shy of the CLA’s output. On the other hand the Audi S3 Saloon offers more headroom and space on the backseat than the CLA due to the more Coupe style of the CLA which makes the S3 the more practical of the two.

Conclusion

The Audi S3 Saloon is a great little daily driver with modern interior and sporty looks. The S-Tronic gearbox is a must with its faster acceleration and lower fuel economy. But our drive with the S3 makes one thing very clear, it is that the saloon with its longer wheelbase and sporty stance offers the perfect basis for an even sportier RS3 version!

First customer Audi S3 Saloons will be delivered from the first quarter of 2014.

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