Audi has revealed prices for the new S3 Sportback ahead of its arrival in September. The BMW M135i and Mercedes A45 AMG rival starts at £31,260 for the six-speed manual, but you’ll want to pay an extra £1480 and get the six-speed twin-clutch S-tronic 'box that helps the five-door version of Audi’s 296bhp Quattro hot hatch see off 0 to 62mph in 4.9sec.
How does it compare to its closest rivals?
Price-wise the Sportback is marginally more expensive than the £31,100 M135i and rather a lot less than the A45 AMG, which comes in at £37,845. Such value does (funnily enough) come at a price, though: with the dual-clutch fitted its 2.0-litre four-cylinder may match the 316bhp BMW to 62mph, but it falls three-tenths short of the 355bhp Mercedes.
Roles reverse when it comes to economy – the Audi’s combined 40.9mpg is identical to the A45 AMG, beating the slightly less frugal Beemer by 3.2mpg – and the Sportback does even better in terms of emissions, the 159g/km C02 it generates is the lowest of the three.
Why would I get one instead of an S3?
Although fractionally slower than its three-door stablemate, the estate offers an extra 15 litres of bootspace and is 35mm longer between the front and rear axles. That Audi has been able to increase space for both luggage and people, whilst keeping the Sportback frugal, owes much to the fact it’s 70kg lighter than its predecessor, the MQB platform it shares with the new Golf helping to simultaneously lower the Sportback’s total to 1445kg and increase stiffness.
Obviously there are a fair amount of similarities, and you certainly won’t forget where you are – S logos adorn the steering wheel, the door sills, the gear lever and the instruments – but the Sportback does offer some unique features too, including all-LED headlights and in-car internet-based infotainment services using 4G.
Which should I get?
With the S3 Sportback you’re essentially gaining extra practicality in exchange for a very slight loss of speed. If the alternatives don’t appeal – the A45 AMG, 135i or forthcoming Golf R – and you don’t fancy forking out for the brand new Audi, another option to consider is buying a used S3, an idea we covered in some detail earlier this year.