2016 Audi S3 Review

S3

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2016 Audi S3 Overview

It’s a premium brand without an ultra-premium price tag. It’s compact without being undersized. It has slick touches without being gaudy. It drive like a sports car without losing the refined look of a sedan. What is it? The 2016 Audi S3.

The S3 is part of the A3 model line, which allows consumers to indulge in the Audi experience without overindulging their bank account. While the base A3 certainly fits that criteria, the S3 pushes those limits a bit with it’s premium price. However, you get a lot of power, style, technology, and adrenaline for that extra money.

There are a few changes for the 2016 S3. The newly available Black Optic Performance package includes multi-spoke Titanium matte wheels, the Black Optic exterior kit, and Audi’s magnetic ride control suspension system, which allows drivers to switch between three driving modes: dynamic, comfort, and individual. There are also new options for red brake calipers, 19-inch wheels, and a sport seat package. And all of the A3 models (including the S3) now come standard with a rear-view camera, parking system and auto-dimming rear-view mirror with compass.

While the S3 has the same distinguished shape as the other A3 sedans (which have the same basic shape as all the Audi sedans), the S3 has plenty of visual details that mark it as unique. There’s a Platinum Gray matte front grille with chrome struts, aluminum-optic mirror housings, aluminum door sills with the S3 emblem, front and rear diffuser blades, trunk-lip spoiler and quad-exhaust pipes with finishers.

What really distinguishes the S3 from its A3 siblings, however, is under the skin. Those differences start with a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder TFSI engine that produces 292 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque, can go from 0-60 in 4.7 seconds while returning 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway. The inline-4 is mated to a 6-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters that sends power to all four corners with Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive. The S3 also comes with a model-specific sport suspension and braking system, as well 18-inch wheels with summer performance tires.

That engine achieves peak torque at 2,000 rpm and maintains it through 5,000 rpm. The sport suspension (especially when it’s equipped with the magnetized control system), all-wheel drive, and variable ratio steering help the driver make the most of that ample power on windy mountain roads, rainy highways, or pretty much anywhere else there’s pavement.

The S3 interior isn’t covered in lavish leather and swaths of wood like pricier Audis, but it has a well-designed simplicity with a clear undertone of class mixed with sportiness. The compact size of the S3 is not really noticeable from the front seats, where there’s plenty of head and shoulder room. The back seat is a different story. The rear doors are tall and allow for relatively easy entrance and exit, but three normal-size adults would not appreciate being squeezed back there.

Standard features for the S3 include dual-zone climate control, leather seating surfaces, Bluetooth with audio streaming, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, HD radio, split-folding rear seatbacks, pop-up screen for the Multi-Media Interface, pre-sense collision warning system, xenon plus front lighting, LED daytime running headlights and taillights, and power panaromic sunroof, windows, locks, and doors. A couple of noteworthy options are a 14-speaker, 705-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system and Audi Connect, which allows driver and passengers to use AT&T’s 4G/LTE network and can support up to eight devices.

Safety features for the S3 include anti-lock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake-pressure distribution, electronic stability control with secondary collision brake assist and traction control, a tire pressure monitoring system, an electromechanical parking brake, and driver and front passenger advanced airbags, knee airbags, front thorax side airbags, and Sideguard head curtain airbags.

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After working at gas stations and car washes in high school, driving across the country more than a dozen times and even living on the road in a well-outfitted truck, Tim O'Sullivan finally started putting some of his automotive knowledge to work when he began writing for CarGurus in 2008. He's also an award-winning journalist and the Sports Editor at the Concord (NH) Monitor.

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