Paris Motor Show: Audi S3

Fans everywhere of the sporty A3 hatchback have even more reason to drool -- its wicked twin, the Audi S3, just launched in Paris, and we've got pictures to prove it, thanks to Autoblog's Eric Bryant.

With 265 turbocharged horses pumped out by one of Audi's new TFSI engines, this is one hot hatch to watch. A six-speed close-ratio manual gearbox puts the power to the road through Audi's signature quattro all-wheel drive system, and a beefed-up suspension system takes care of the handling. Sport seats characterize the interior, with aluminum accents and panel inlay options of piano finish black, more aluminum or birch wood grain. Upholstery is cloth/leather combo unless upgraded to all leather, and the orange is SWEET in this Autoblogger's humble opinion.

Styling is another notch above the A3, where an extended front fascia and 18-inch wheels make their mark. The only complaint we have is the rear end, which the vehicle shares with the A3 -- the tail lights lack the kind of inspiration seen in the Q7 and other siblings.

The benefits of owning an S3 don't come cheap -- the vehicle starts out at 35,150 euro, or $44,650.

Dynamism and driving pleasure

The new Audi S3

Dynamism, sportiness and sophistication – the Audi A3 occupies an outstanding position in the premium compact class. Now its top-of-the-range version is ready to go, the new Audi S3 boasting 195 kW (265 bhp) and quattro permanent four-wheel drive. With its sparkling performance it pursues the ideal of pure driving pleasure coupled with excellent everyday practicality – like all Audi S models.

The S3 redefines the standards of its class – at the level of a sports car. It races from 0 to 100 km/h in a mere 5.7 seconds, and its forward urge remains unbridled until it reaches 250 km/h. Aggressively hard-hitting, free-revving and with a sonorous acoustic profile, the powerful two-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder unit with FSI petrol direct injection proves to be a smooth, high-performance engine.

This power is transmitted by the six-speed gearbox and quattro permanent four-wheel drive to large alloy wheels with an 18-inch diameter. The new S sports suspension on the S3 allows a sporty driving style combined with the ultimate in comfort. The steering characteristic of the electromechanical steering has been adapted to the sporty handling. This sporty compact car responds actively to steering movements, exhibits precise and safe handling characteristics and, thanks to quattro technology, accelerates unrelentingly out of bends.

The high dynamic potential of this three-door sports car is obvious at first glance. The single-frame grille features chrome trim, the front apron has a spoiler with large air inlets and the side sills have been restyled. There is a contrasting platinum grey diffuser built into the rear apron, along with two S-style oval chrome tailpipes on the left. Aluminium-look exterior mirrors and a body-coloured roof spoiler give added impact to the visual statement.

Interior: sporty atmosphere

The interior conveys an atmosphere of sportiness, with materials of the highest quality and meticulous craftsmanship. The elements that dominate the styling are the sports seats with dynamic and prominent side sections, the black or alternatively silver headlining, and the instrument cluster with its typical S dials and needles.

The pedals, gear knob and air vents are in aluminium look, the inlays are in Piano finish black, or alternatively aluminium or Fine grain birch wood grey. The red and silver S3 emblem is to be found on the leather sports steering wheel, in the instrument cluster, on the gear knob and on the door sill trims. The seats are upholstered in a combination of cloth and leather or, as an option, in Alcantara/Leather or completely in leather. The two-tone leather seats are decorated with stitching in the same colour as their centre section.

TFSI in its most powerful form

The power plant of the S3 delivers all that is expected of a powerful sports engine, and does so supremely well. The 2.0 TFSI, developed by AUDI AG, combines direct injection and turbocharger technology and delivers 195 kW (265 bhp) at 6,000 rpm. And at just 2,500 rpm it already musters up an impressive 350 Nm of torque – this pulling power remains constant up to 5,000 rpm. In the combined driving cycle the 2.0 TFSI displays another welcome character trait, consuming just 9.1 litres of fuel over 100 km – further proof of the forward-looking efficiency of TFSI technology developed by Audi.

Compared with the A3, this engine is an advanced version featuring fundamental changes. The new turbocharger with its enlarged turbine and compressor rotor generates 1.2 bar of boost pressure – an unusually high figure. A modified intercooler significantly lowers the temperature of the compressed air, thus increasing the air mass that is necessary for combustion.

The new high-performance TFSI engine features pistons with stronger pins, while strengthened connecting rods with new bearings transmit the powerful forces to the crankshaft. The cylinder block has been reinforced, and the head is made of a new, highly heat-resistant alloy. The exhaust camshaft timing has been adjusted to accommodate the increased power output. High-pressure injectors with an enlarged cross-section squirt the fuel straight into the combustion chamber.

For all its progressive technology, the high-performance turbo engine tips the scales at just 152 kilograms, less than comparable engines of direct competitors – with a positive impact on the axle load distribution.

To go with its sporty nature and firm handling, the new Audi S3 has a six-speed, close-ratio manual gearbox. Gearshift travel has been reduced for the S3, permitting even sportier and more precise gear changes. As is the case for all

Audi S models, the new S3 drives all four wheels by means of quattro permanent four-wheel drive. An electronically controlled hydraulic multi-plate clutch, positioned at the rear for the benefit of weight balance, distributes the torque as needed – delivering plenty of grip and maximum driving safety. All the drivetrain components have been strengthened to cope with the high level of engine torque.

Handling: lightning-fast reactions

In terms of handling, the Audi S3 exhibits all the qualities of a high-performance sports car; it responds immediately to steering movements and achieves high cornering speeds. The innately sophisticated suspension of the A3 – with subframes front and rear, triangulated lower wishbones at the front and four-link suspension at the rear – has been further refined.

The springs and shock absorbers have been given firmer ratings, with the result that the S3 sits 25 millimetres lower than an A3 with standard suspension. The pivot bearings and wishbones made from aluminium reduce the unsprung weight, further enhancing dynamic response and comfort. Stiffer suspension mounts and a sportier characteristic for the electromechanical steering provide even greater precision.

18-inch alloy wheels and 225/40 tyres ensure firm adhesion to the road surface. A 17-inch brake system with sports brake pads guarantees optimum deceleration; the black painted callipers bear the S3 logo at the front.

The extras also include a leather steering wheel with flat-bottomed rim and – in the quattro GmbH range – folding bucket seats. In the infotainment area, Audi is presenting a new generation of audio systems. The premium package is rounded off by universal interfaces for mobile phone and iPod, plus a sound system from Bose with eight high-performance speakers. Standard equipment includes deluxe automatic air conditioning, a driver information system with a new lap-timer function, and an anti-theft alarm. Front fog lights and xenon plus headlights with daytime running lights also underline the impressive price/performance ratio. The starting price of the 265 bhp Audi S3 in Germany is EUR 35,150.

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