Audi has revealed official pictures of the new S3 ahead of its debut at the 2012 Paris motor show.
Audi should know what matters when it comes to hot-hatches, with two generations of S3s occupying a 13-year stretch of Audi history. On first impressions, the new model’s restrained styling fits well with the S3’s history of subtle sporting luxury rather than out-and-out hot hatch thuggery.
How to spot a new 2012 Audi S3
The S3 rolls on 18-inch rims as standard. The unassuming looks may not have changed a great deal, but the arched shoulder line and grille-centric front end are a noticeable departure from the boxier previous model. The 2012 S3 looks squatter and sleeker.
Xenon headlights and daylight running LEDs are fitted to all models, and can be linked with the navigation system. Yes, the lights can apparently be pre-set to adapt to urban, interurban and highway settings.
Under the S3’s bonnet
At the business end, Audi has equipped the S3 with its 2.0-litre TFSI unit that’ll produce 296bhp, and launch the S3 past 62mph in 5.1 seconds – providing you opt for the S-tronic automatic transmission.
What’s particularly impressive for such a fast hatchback is the claimed combined economy figure: 40mpg. Performance, economy, handling – pretty much everything – has benefited from the S3’s diet, which has shaved 60kg off the kerb weight.
To complement performance figures, Audi has fitted a crafty device to the exhaust system that alters the S3’s exhaust note at certain engine ranges, keeping the S3 stealthy at low speeds, but throaty should you stir it.
As expected, the S3’s power is delivered to all four wheels via Audi’s Quattro system, while launch control can be activated at the push of a button on S-tronic models.
What to expect inside the new S3
Glitzy ‘S3’ embroidered leather upholstery comes as standard, alongside a flat-bottomed steering wheel as a nod to Audi’s racing pedigree. With a slightly longer wheelbase than the previous model the S3’s boot has a 365-litre capacity which can be increased to 1000 litres should you need to lug any loads.
On top-end models, on board ‘infotainment’ will be dealt with via a seven-inch iPad-esque media display that’ll spring out of the dash on start-up, while the stereo is by Bang & Olfsen.
Although UK pricing is yet confirmed, expect to pay in the region of £32,000 when the S3 lands in dealerships in early 2013.
Think of the new Audi S3 as an alternative to the VW Golf R and Mercedes A45 AMG, rather than the rough ‘n’ rorty Ford Focus RS.