First Drive: Audi S3
We check out how hot a hot hatch can get when it wants to. Global warming was never this much fun
Even if you have a fast car, better sense will tell you not to go full throttle. Because in addition to your impeccable driving skills, there are other less favourable factors also at play – such as pedestrians, road surface and fellow motorists, to name a few.
So it’s always a very rewarding feeling when these other factors don’t exist and you can concentrate wholly on your driving skill. And that’s just what we did as we thrashed the Audi S3 around a small track in Munich, Germany.
The four-cylinder 1,984cc motor makes 300bhp and 380Nm that is sent to all four wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. As Hammond says, the Ferrari 250 GTO made 300 horses with a 3.0-litre V12 when it was launched in 1962. Not a fair comparison, but it still gives you an idea of what a modern car can do with just four cylinders.
A spec sheet can never do justice to what you experience on the tarmac. And with all the tyre noise and the roar from the exhaust, you are guaranteed to feel each of those 300 horses as the first corner approaches. Wrestling with the steering never felt this good, with the traction control light flashing and the electronic aids trying to keep the S3’s nose pointed in the right direction.
Exiting the first corner with the tail stepping a tad out of line instantly makes us look like a pro. We hate to admit it, but this had to do a lot with the quattro system, which sends power to the rear wheels if it senses the front losing traction. There’s a bit of turbo lag, but that’s not really a problem.
Before we knew it, our five laps were up and the chequered flag was out. This sadly meant our horsing-around time with the S3 was over and it was back to the pit lane.
Once parked, the adrenaline rush started fizzing out and we started noticing the more subtle bits about the interior. Like the flat-bottomed steering wheel that feels meaty to hold and returns just the right amount of feedback. The front seats not only look good, they also hold you in place around hard corners.
Most impressive was the S3’s practicality. Yes, it is practical despite a 0-100kph time of 4.9 seconds and a top speed of 248kph. Oh, and it’s also a complete riot on the track. The S3 can seat four in relative comfort and move them from Point A to Point B. There’s also enough boot space to carry a suitcase and a handbag for the weekend away.
All of which is well and good, but unfortunately, the S3 will not be coming to India anytime soon, if at all. Which is a real pity. Because with the sporting credentials that it has, the S3 seems like the perfect multi-purpose tool to both, navigate city traffic and scorch the freeway. Puts the rocket firmly back in pocket rocket.
4-cyl, 1,984cc, 300bhp, 380Nm, 0-100kph: 4.9sec (claimed), Top speed: 248kph (claimed), Weight: 1,395kg, Rs 65 lakh (approx. on-road, Mumbai)
When Audi decides to make a hot hatch, you can be sure it won’t be short on hot. Pity India won’t be able to savour this piece of motoring brilliance.