Following the Audi A3 hatchback's launch at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, CAR's covert photographer has caught the upcoming S3 hot-hatch out on the test circuit.
Audi S3 (2013): the lowdown
Dispensing with earlier Audi S3 prototypes' disruptive camouflage wrap, this proto-S3 is clad in hyperbole-defeating white paint on an A3 bodyshell.
Larger alloy wheels and quad exhausts are tell-tale signs of S3 engine and suspension, and this prototype features the optional panoramic sunroof. But otherwise it's the familiar Audi styling you know and comment upon.
Under the vanilla bodywork, Audi's new 2013 S3 will pack a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, in 280 bhp/251 lb ft tune. That would put the S3 comfortably ahead of the projected 217bhp of the Mk7 VW Golf GTI, and on a par with the next front-drive Astra VXR.
VW Group DSG transmissions and Haldex four-wheel drive will put the power to the road, wearing S-tronic and Quattro branding on the S3.
Audi S3 (2013): the go-faster branch of the MQB family
The A3 is at the vanguard of the latest round of Golf-class VW Group cars, and underpinned by the versatile MQB architecture. Scaleable from Polo to Passat size, and offering a 40kg weight saving over current equivalents, MQB will underpin a projected three million cars per year once the platform transition is complete. That's an awful lot of new models.
Audi is planning on making a greater contribution to that annual production figure, with the usual three-door A3 hatch being joined by a five-door Sportback, soft-top A3 Cabriolet, and that darling of the German prestige brands, a 'four-door coupe'.
The S3's extra helping of Vorsprung will be available in all bodystyles, for those who want the velocity to go with the disciplinarian sports suspension Audi is known for.