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Driven: Audi's smoking S3

2007-06-18 07:56
Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Audi
Model S3
Engine 2.0 T FSI
Power 188 kW @ 6 000 r/min
Torque 330 Nm from 2 400 - 5 200 r/min
Transmission six-speed manual
Top Speed 250 km/h (limited)
Fuel Consumption 9.1 l/100 km
Price R336 500

Hailey Philander

Video clip Audi S3
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The baby Audi range has been bulked up with the addition of the fire-eating S3 to the range, and this transformation has left us mesmerised.

But it looks like a regular A3, you shriek. Not quite. S3, in typically Audi understatement, is emboldened with a beefier grille sporting platinum vertical slats and xenon-plus headlamps with daytime running lights. It also comes standard with S-issue chrome housings for the side mirrors, meaty 18-inchers, wider door sills, a discreet roof spoiler and an integrated rear diffuser housing twin tailpipes.

And that's the styling that, with a bit of inspection, will soon reveal that this A3 is unlike any you've ever seen. Since the S3 has always been turbocharged, propulsion in this instance is the task of the VW Group's 2.0 turbocharged FSI unit already used among its brands in several iterations.

Just a little bit

With just a few adjustments, including tweaks to the cooling system, new aluminium-silicon cylinder heads and a new turbocharger with boost of 1.2 bar, this motor develops 188 kW at 6 000 r/min and a healthy torque figure of 330 Nm from between 2 400 and 5 200 r/min. The standard 0 - 100 km/h sprint is dispatched in 5.9 seconds.

Keeping all that power in the road is the responsibility of the Haldex quattro system with an 85/15 bias to the front wheels in most conditions. However, up to 100% of the torque can be distributed to any one wheel when required. Genius.

The obligatory sports suspension also sees the S3 lower by 25 mm, which along with the upgraded 17-inch brake system came in very handy in a track session where the car's sporting mettle was tested.

During the play session, the car showed itself to be quite the performer, displaying its agility and exquisite road holding at PE's Aldo Scribante circuit. Sprinting down the straight and tossing through the bends, the black-painted brake calipers proved they were more than just cosmetic. Simultaneously, they also demonstrated these brakes ability to be more than adequate for regular driving excursions.

Point and shoot

Communication through the steering wheel is top notch and the ride is appreciatively firm and not excessively jarring, translating into a driving experience that could rival that of some traditional sports cars. The short shift six-speed gearbox used in the S3 is another marvel and has an effortless action that leaves you to concentrate on more important tasks.

For when it all becomes a bit too much, ESP with EDL (electronic differential lock) intervenes to hopefully prevent a few battered body panels and bones. The interior is fitted with six airbags and pre-tensioned seatbelts.

Apart from the safety benefits, the interior is also a great space to just while the kilometers away in. Audi's interior styling is impeccable and the S3's plush cabin is awash with aluminium trim throughout.

Some of the S3 trappings include a very functional flat-bottomed steering wheel, S3 embossing and sport seats that be abandoned in favour of very snug RS bucket seats. The S3 does lend itself to several customization options, which should add about three months to the process.

Priced at the competitive R336 500, new S3 comes with Audi's 5-year/100 000 km maintenance plan.

Video clip Audi S3
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Broadband (low quality)

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