The sole engine option providing Audi S3 performance is an all-new 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine. It produces 296bhp, boasting maximum torque of 380Nm between 1,800 and 5,500rpm.
That means a sprint to 62mph in 5.2 seconds for cars fitted with the six-speed manual gearbox and 4.8 seconds for those fitted with the six-speed semi-automatic S Tronic gearbox.
On the road the engine is very good indeed. The thing that impresses most is its versatility. Thanks to the generous spread of torque there’s always enough grunt to facilitate strong acceleration.
The manual gearbox is also very good. It has a robust and reassuring feel, which makes moving up and down the ‘box a real pleasure.
Audi’s drive select system adjusts throttle response – and with S Tronic also the gearbox response – between Comfort and Dynamic settings.
When fitted with the S Tronic gearbox, the S3 comes with a launch control system which allows you to get off the line as quickly as possible.
Thanks to Audi’s Quattro four-wheel drive system, the S3 feels fantastically planted at all times. It has tonnes of grip, which inspires confidence in the car.
It’s balanced, too – you don’t get the impression the front or the rear is going to break loose. No matter how ham-fisted you are in the middle of a bend, the car reacts predictably in a measured fashion.
Body-roll is incredibly well contained, which adds to the feeling of balance in the bends.
The steering, while somewhat inert, is direct and generally well-weighted. You can adjust this via Audi’s drive select system between Comfort and Dynamic settings.
It might lack the handling excitement of some of its rivals, but makes up for that with superior everyday usability.
Audi Magnetic Ride is an optional extra, allowing you to alter the suspension’s characteristics via the drive select system.