S-Line Just Got Real: 2014 Audi S3 Review [Video]
The latest incarnation of the Audi S3 has been working out to become an even more powerful hot hatch that stands out, not in ostentatiousness, but in its pure capability on tap while retaining a more mature air of respectability and all round usefulness.
It has to be said, that the 2014 Audi S3 looks almost exactly how you’d expect it to – it’s very subtle and very Audi in styling. That isn’t to say that its simple and no frills however – it certainly reeks of quality and refrained talent. There is something to be said in high performance cars that don’t need to showboat their existence, but rather show people they mean business whenever the situation should be called upon. There is actually little to differentiate this top of the line model from its S-line trimmed A3 counterparts.
Although there is some nice S3 details about it such as a redesigned bumper, Xenon headlamps and daytime running lights, the distinctive grill, the sculpted side sills, aluminium covered wing mirrors and a distinctive S specific roof spoiler. The standard 18” alloy wheels come in a choice of 3 designs with the option of red or black brake callipers. The 2014 Audi S3 is based on the hi-tech ultra-lightweight MQB chassis which not only sheds an astonishing 60kgs of weight off the 2014 Audi S3, but also allows for a 23mm increase of the wheelbase.
This shows well in the extra spaciousness it allows in the interior – especially the back seats, which will be appreciated more if you have the 5 door Sportback version. There is also an increase in boot space by 15ltrs which gives you a healthy 365ltrs to play with, which extends 1100ltrs when you fold down the rear bench. Up in the front, it is again very Audi- that is to say that it’s beautifully crafted, minimalist and high quality. The Audi MMi infotainment screen neatly rises out of the dash as you turn the car on. This is still one of the most well thought out infotainment displays around and offers a normal vast range of connectivity, multimedia, navigation and drive settings you’d expect from a premium brand like Audi. There is some nice detailing around the cabin to remind you that you spent the extra money on this top of the range model – such as the trim and materials. But that’s not all – you’ll also get a lovely chunky leather trimmed steering wheel, deep bucket seats (with extending under leg support cushions) which are lovely for body positioning, aluminium plated pedals as well as scattered S3 badges about the cabin.
As previously mentioned – this 2014 Audi S3 is a machine of vast capability. Based on the underpinnings of the aforementioned MQB platform which, after dropping 60kgs in weight, means the car is stiffer, more agile and more efficient than its previous incarnation. The redesigned 2.0ltr turbocharged engine boasts an output of 300ps! This translates to 0-62 in 4.8 seconds (if specified with the S-tronic panel shift gearbox due to its in-built launch control system) up to an artificially restrained top speed of 155mph. That’s a lot of power! Accelerating is certainly a breathtaking experience that pins you back into your seat while letting out a beautiful throaty roar that screams ‘RACECAR!’. Ok it might be a little artificial but who cares? It feels beastly. All the while the S3 returns 40mpg and 159g/km of CO2 , which is surprisingly modest for a 4WD high performance car.
One of the biggest appeals of the S3 is that despite all this performance, it is actually very well suited to everyday British road driving. This has a lot to do with the fantastic Quattro 4WD system. It plants it into the ground around any corner with magnificent traction due to being able to distribute torque to wherever needs it in milliseconds. This makes it a fantastic car to throw around in dreadful weather conditions. Even if you weren’t so inclined, it’s still great to have that reassurance on almost any road surface.
The standard suspension is a bit on the stiff side so if you can afford to stretch a little more, its well worth opting for the Magnetic Ride Damper control which allows you to set the suspension to whatever settings coincide with your mood and the kind of driving you’re doing. This works via Audi’s standard Drive Select System which again allows you to alter all the drive settings. This means you can really own the driving experience in the 2014 Audi S3.
On the downside, the steering is not quite as responsive as you’d expect from this kind of car. It does detract a bit but in the overall scheme of things it’s not a massive deal – the Audi S3 boasts great brakes, breath taking acceleration, darty cornering and astonishing road grip which all overshadow this minor fault.
All in all, what’s the lowdown with the 2014 Audi S3? The S3 is incredibly capable yet upholds a respectable front which should appeal to those who love the reassurance of having performance on tap while not being concerned with showing off. Some might see the 2014 Audi S3 as an indulgence considering the high price tag. But if you can afford one, it really pays dividends in its lovely engineering, plus the peace of mind, practicality and that all important feel good factor it offers. Sure some will say it could be more exciting, but then again that’s never been what the S3 is about. This is a high performance hot hatch for the real world.
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