First Look: 2021 Audi S3
A trick drivetrain and optional sport suspension sets this sedan apart from its siblings
Hot on the heels of the newest A3, the fourth-generation compact sport sedan that made its debut earlier this year, comes details of the performance-driven S3, with Audi promising “more dynamic, more power, more driving pleasure.”
The power aspect is fairly straightforward — the car’s 2.0-litre TFSI four-cylinder sees a boost in ponies, now 306 horsepower and 295 foot-pounds of torque, up from the 288 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque of its predecessor. The extra grunt allows the S3 to accelerate to 100 kilometres an hour in 4.8 seconds, says Audi, on its way to an electronically governed top end of 250 km/h.
The turbo-four is hooked up to a seven-speed S tronic transmission, and a Quattro all-wheel drivetrain delivers the torque to the road. Audi points out the hydraulic multi-plate clutch in front of the rear axle is fully variable and moves between the front and the back as required. It is managed by the modular dynamic handling control, a new system that closely links the Quattro drive to the electronic stabilization control and the optional controlled dampers.
The standard suspension lowers the body by 15 millimetres. Audi also offers an S sport suspension with damper control. Valves control the oil flow in the dampers so that they adapt to the condition of the road, the driving situation, and the driver’s choice of modes within a few thousandths of a second. Audi says spread between comfort and dynamism is even wider than in the current model.
A new electric brake booster improves stopping performance. All four brake discs are ventilated. Black brake calipers are standard, with red offered as an option. The S3 comes with standard 18-inch wheels as standard; 19-inch wheels are available.
Compared with its predecessors, the new S3 grows slightly in size — at 4,500 millimetres, it is 40 mm longer and 20 mm wider. Interior-wise, there’s slightly more shoulder room and elbow room. Trunk capacity if 325 litres.
There’s not a ton of difference between the S3 and the milder A3 in the looks department, just a few odds and sods to give it the sportier flavour it deserves. The front is dominated by the rhombus-shaped “Singleframe” grille and pronounced air inlets, while the housings of the exterior mirrors have an aluminum look. Matrix LED headlights are optional. Their digital daytime running lights consist of a pixel array made up of 15 LED segments, 10 of which form two vertical lines. At the rear end, the large diffuser and the four exhaust tailpipes accentuate the sporty look.
Inside, a new shifter for the S tronic is set off by decorative aluminum or carbon inlays. Distinctive air vents form a single unit with the instrument cover. A 10.25-inch digital display is standard, with Audi’s 12.3-inch virtual cockpit optional.
In the middle of the instrument panel is a 10.1-inch touch display embedded in a large black panel. It recognizes letters entered by hand and provides acoustic feedback. As an additional operating level, the infotainment can also be voice controlled using natural language. Audi also supplies an optional head-up display. The MMI operating concept is powered by the third-generation modular infotainment platform with computing power 10 times higher than that of its predecessor.
Depending when it arrives next year, the Audi S3 could be a 2021 model or possibly a 2022. Pricing has not been announced.
Driving.CA – Brian Barper