Click above for a high resolution gallery of the S3 Sportback

Audi made a bit of a splash earlier this year with the announcement that the new-for-'09 S3 would be available in either the three-door style or the more practical Sportback five-door hatch. Equipped with a high-pressure 2.0-liter turbo engine with 265-horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, the S3 can scoot to sixty in just 5.5 seconds, all while getting nearly 30 miles per gallon. Making the most of that power is the firm's new seven-speed twin-clutch S-Tronic gearbox, which we've had nothing but good things to say about in its past six-speed incarnation. That gearbox will command a £1,450 premium over the standard manual transmission for our European friends. That price will also include twin steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, another first for the S3. Total cost for the three-door stands at £28,920, while £29,420 will get you an S3 with Sportback. Of course, Quattro all-wheel drive comes standard on both. Sadly, the whole S3 package is available only in Europe.

[Source: Audi]
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Acclaimed double-clutch transmission's rapid fire changes perfectly complement fast-paced 265PS sports hatch

* S tronic seven-speed twin-clutch transmission available to order at an extra cost of £1,450 from October 1st for S3 and S3 Sportback models
* S3 three-door including optional S tronic £28,920 OTR, S3 Sportback including optional S tronic £29,420 OTR
* 265PS @ 6,000rpm, 350Nm from 2,500 – 5,000rpm, 0-62mph in 5.5 seconds (three-door), top speed limited to 155mph, combined mpg 33.2, CO2 198g/km
* Audi magnetic ride adaptive damping available at extra cost
* New faster-reacting quattro four-wheel-drive system

The Audi S3 is now not only available with five doors, but also with seven speeds courtesy of the much lauded S tronic twin-clutch transmission, which not only quickens shifts compared with the continuing manual version, but also slows down fuel consumption. Available to order from October 1st at an extra cost of £1,450, the super slick transmission takes OTR prices for the first ever 'two pedal' S3 models to £28,920 for the three-door and £29,420 for the five-door Sportback. UK deliveries are expected to start in mid-December.

Equipped with S tronic, the three-door S3 can touch 62mph from rest in 5.5 seconds, 0.2 seconds quicker than the manual version with which it shares its governed top speed of 155mph. Equally impressively, S tronic actually boosts the S3's combined fuel economy figure from 33.2mpg to 34mpg – a feat which the majority of conventional torque converter automatic transmissions couldn't match. As a result, CO2 output in the S3 S tronic falls from 198g/km to 193g/km.

Advanced electro-hydraulic controls and the alternate use of two clutches enable the S tronic gearbox to deliver lightning fast automatic or manual shifts with virtually no interruption of the engine's power delivery across its seven ratios, and to offer changes via steering wheel-mounted shift paddles for the first time in the S3's nine-year history. The first of the two clutches serves the odd-numbered gears and reverse, and the second the even-numbered gears, so when the S3 is being driven in third gear, for instance, fourth is already pre-selected in anticipation. As soon as the shift command is given, the first clutch is disengaged and the second engaged in just a few hundredths of a second, virtually seamlessly.

Upgraded quattro four-wheel-drive

Also faster reacting in this latest S3 model is the renowned quattro four-wheel-drive system. Its central hydraulic multi-plate clutch now responds even faster when the engine's 265PS and 350Nm need to be redistributed between the front and rear wheels to maximize stability and traction.

Standard equipment for the S3 includes 18-inch parallel 5-spoke 'S' design alloy wheels, 'S' body styling and interior detailing and 'S' sports suspension. Heated and Silk Nappa leather-upholstered sports seats and Xenon Plus head lamps with LED strip daytime running lights are also part of the package.

Picture caption

S tronic shifts into Audi S3 - The Audi S3 is now not only available with five doors, but also with seven speeds courtesy of the much lauded S tronic twin-clutch transmission, which is available to order from October 1st at an extra cost of £1,450. Equipped with optional S tronic, the S3 and S3 Sportback cost £28,920 OTR and £29,420 OTR.

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