The (technically speaking) 2015 Audi S3 sedan should start at right near $39,000.

The last time Audi gifted the world with a small sport sedan was way back when the A4 wasn't an entry-luxury executive car costing relative gads of dough, so maybe since the mid-1990s. In a company decision reversal, we're now officially getting the new A3 Sportback starting later this year, but that's a five-door hatch and not a big volume attraction for markets like the United States. And there's no guarantee we'll get the S3 Sportback version yet. So, what to do?

An S3 sedan is what. Audi was nice enough to usher us in to a private audience with this hotly awaited model in a westside Manhattan pier warehouse prior to the official unveil at the New York Auto Show tomorrow. Here is just a knee-jerk reaction to lead off... She do look damned fine, kids. (We'll have live images to share soon, so keep an eye on this post later.)

This heartier version of the new smaller notchback sedan from Ingolstadt is set to launch in western Europe as of December this year (after the A3 sedan in September), and US deliveries will begin during summer 2014. Talking with Audi experts at this little get-together and shoving some numbers around, the (technically speaking) 2015 Audi S3 sedan should start at right near $39,000. US S3 sedans come standard with a sunroof, 18-inch wheels, full leather, Sirius satellite radio, the three-spoke sport steering wheel with shift paddles for the also-standard six-speed S-tronic, and fully automated adjustable sport seats. Unfortunately, no six-speed manual shifting will be offered.
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Propelled by the ubiquitous 2.0-liter TFSI engine, the S3 sedan with six-speed S-tronic should reach 60 miles per hour from a stop in 4.7 seconds. The unit here is tuned to produce 296 SAE horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, putting it square between the TTS tune and that of the supercharged-V6 S4. Quattro all-wheel drive comes on all S3 sedans and the engine sits beneath a fully redesigned hood with two clean creases running the length on either side.

Every single exterior panel on the S3 sedan has had to be changed from the S3 Sportback.

Speaking with Audi design director Wolfgang Egger and the S3's technical project manager Alex Pesch, the big news is that every single exterior panel on the S3 has had to be changed from the S3 Sportback setup, whose chassis it nonetheless shares. This was due to the design team insisting first and foremost on more track width to broaden the stance. With the optional 19-inchers here, the S3 track width grows by eight tenths of an inch front and rear versus the rest of the '3' family, while the S-line sport chassis sets the car lower by one inch on stiffer springs. The 'tumble-home' front and rear profiles at the sides are thus broader now with better shoulders, the fascia design cues blatantly horizontal, and the treads more clearly pushed out to the sides than ever before.

The CLA, in fact, is 6.7 inches longer than the A3/S3 Sedan.

The S3 hunkers down real good, too. Hopping into the cabin with design director Egger, he stressed the much cleaner dash with, again, that strong horizontal line, the large cupholders now in front of the transmission's console lever, and the fully reorganized MMI control area. Optional new design S-line performance seats carry the stitching from the optional S8 seats.

So, we have our hot little sedan to wait for. In our eyes and thinking, the Mercedes CLA could have done well to stay around this dimension instead of growing longer and larger than the current C-Class. The CLA, in fact, is 6.7 inches longer than this Audi A3/S3 sedan design. We're liking the smaller dimension and simpler design lines on this S3 sedan.
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Audi S3 Sedan

Just a few months after the launch of the new sedan model series, Audi will introduce the top model – the S3 Sedan. The 2.0 TFSI produces 221 kW (296 hp) and 380 Nm (280.27 lb ft) of torque. Its high-performance four-cylinder engine combines highly advanced efficiency technologies – dual fuel injection, exhaust manifold integrated in the cylinder head, the Audi valvelift system and a rotary valve module for thermal management.

This version of the Audi S3 Sedan, paired with the S tronic, accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 4.9 seconds; with the manual transmission it takes 5.3 seconds. The car's top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h (155.34 mph). The four-cylinder turbo has a combined fuel consumption of just 6.9 liters per 100 km (34.09 US mpg) or 7.0 liters (33.60 US mpg) (with S tronic or manual transmission), respectively – for a CO2 equivalent of 159 or 162 grams per km (255.89 or 260.71 g/mile). A fast-operating multi-plate clutch in the quattro drivetrain distributes forces to the front and rear axles (provisional data).

The suspension lowers the body 25 mm (0.98 in). Large brakes are at work behind the standard 18-inch-wheels; the front discs are 340 mm (13.39 in) in diameter. The electrically assisted progressive steering varies the steering gear ratio – it is somewhat more indirect in the middle position, but very direct when large turns of the steering wheel are made. The Audi drive select vehicle dynamics system is standard, and the Audi magnetic ride damper control system is available as an option.

Visually, the top model is distinguished by modifications to the bumpers, the singleframe grille, air intakes, exterior mirror housings, side sills and rear spoiler. The four oval tailpipes of the exhaust system are embedded in the diffuser with chrome trim. In the interior, the S3 Sedan offers sport seats (optional S sport seats), instruments with gray dials and trim strips in black 3D look.