Audi’s new S3 is lining up to go head-to-head with the recently introduced BMW M135i and the upcoming Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG and Volkswagen Golf R.
The mouthwatering battle for Teutonic domination of the sector sees Audi’s new 2.0-litre, 296bhp S3 available with either a standard six-speed manual transmission or optional six-speed double clutch S-tronic gearbox.
The S-tronic version gets steering wheel mounted shift paddles and an automatic mode for hands-free shifting.
The S3′s power is delivered to all four wheels via a Haldex style multi-plate clutch mounted at the end of the prop shaft, in front of the rear differential.
This third-generation S3 is 60kg lighter than the previous model, helped by its aluminium body and front guards.
The new model is capable of a 0-62mph time of 5.1sec with the optional six-speed S-tronic gearbox: the standard six-speed manual takes 5.4sec. Both are quicker than the outgoing model, by 0.4sec and 0.3sec respectively.
Top speed in each case is an electronically limited 155mph, or the same as before.
The newcomer, which will be officially unveiled in Paris this week, is also more frugal at the pumps: it’ll return 41mpg and emits 159g/km CO2.
On sale early next year in three-door guise, with a five-door model set to follow later in 2013, the new S3 gets a beefed up grille with an aluminium look finish to the frame and a grey insert.
In addition there’s larger front air ducts with honeycomb shaped inserts within a reshaped front bumper, aluminium look exterior mirror housings, widened sills, prominent spoiler atop the tailgate, deeper rear bumper with a grey diffuser element and a quartet of chromed oval tail pipes. Discreet S3 badges adorn the grille and tailgate.