The new 2015 Audi S3 may look like the Audi A3 sedan that has just hit U.S. showrooms, but this sports sedan is the high-performance version and will excite any performance fan. With a 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder engine, 6-speed S tronic transmission with paddle shifters and all-wheel-drive, this small sedan delivers more fun per dollar than many more expensive sports cars.
This week we are testing a Misano Red pearl-effect 2015 Audi S3 2.0T Quattro S tronic Sedan ($41,100). This 2015 S3 tester came with all the performance goodies like the 19-inch Performance Package ($1,500) that included 5-double spoke Star-design wheels wrapped in 235/35R19 summer performance tires, Audi’s “magnetic ride” suspension system and Red brake calipers ($400). It also came with the Prestige Package ($5,900) with power folding/heated/dimming outside mirrors, LED interior lighting, navigation, parking system w/ rearview camera and upgraded sound system. The Advanced Technology package ($1,400) included adaptive cruise control, pre-sense front and active lane assist.
Inside the 2015 S3
We couldn’t wait to get our hands on this new S3 from Audi and the cabin was designed in typical Audi fashion with sporty touches throughout, large instrument gauges and minimal controls on the center stack. S3 comes standard with leather seats and have firm cushions that we found a bit stiff during our week with the performance sedan. But they did hold us in place during spirited driving and fast turns in the mountain corners. We especially liked the S3’s flat-bottomed, small-diameter steering wheel and the fit and finish inside is top-notch.
The Audi S3 is a small sedan and there isn’t an abundance of headroom up front for taller drivers. The back seat is small and won’t be comfortable for adults for more than short trips. But the rear seats fold down flat for extra cargo room and there’s a nice pass-through door for carrying longer items if needed.
The S3 comes with one engine and one transmission, but they are a good match in this sports sedan. S3 is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 292 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. The 2.0-liter comes mated to a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters that Audi calls S tronic. It comes standard with Audi’s excellent Quattro all-wheel-drive system to keep all four wheels firmly planted in wet or dry conditions.
The S3’s 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is based on the A3’s 220-hp mill but gets significant upgrades to the turbocharger, exhaust valves, rods, crankshaft and cylinder head. The A3‘s 2.0-liter has a reputation for delivering smooth power, and with the S3, it’s no different except you have an extra 72 horsepower under the hood and significantly improved performance as a result. The S3 achieves an EPA estimated 23/31 city/highway fuel mileage, but only if you drive it like it’s an economy car.
On the road with S3
We couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel of the new S3 sports sedan and it didn’t disappoint us. The first time we put our foot in the gas, the S3 launched forward and has impressive acceleration. We thought it was equal to the Mercedes CLA45 AMG that has a much more powerful 2.0-liter engine producing 355 hp. Audi says the S3 will launch from 0-60 in just 4.7 seconds while the CLA45 AMG does it in 4.5 seconds.
The 2015 Audi S3 is small and it drives small and feels lighter than its 3,450 lb. curb weight suggests. We were able to maneuver through traffic with ease due to the sport sedans light steering. We were amazed at the ease and quickness with which the S3 changes directions. This is a true sports sedan and does come with a stiffer suspension and the ride will not be for everyone. If you want a soft luxury ride you will want to look elsewhere.
Contributing to the car’s nimble, glued-to-the-road driving dynamics is the stiffer suspension settings. The 19-inch Performance package includes 19-inch wheels with summer performance tires, but more importantly, it comes with Audi’s magnetic suspension system. The driver can choose between Comfort, Auto or Dynamic to suit your tastes and driving situations. We put the S3 in Dynamic mode and could tell the suspension firms up and we could take the tight mountain curves west of Denver at higher speeds with minimal body roll.
The six-speed dual-clutch Audi S tronic transmission gives smooth, split-second upshifts when left in Drive mode, and stays in the right gear if you don’t want to shift manually with the paddle shifters. Using the steering wheel paddle shifters gives stirring throttle blips on downshifts when your’e in manual mode. We found the S3 offers an extremely engaging driving experience and just begs to be driven by a performance enthusiast and put to the test.
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The 2015 Audi S3 offers sharp, extremely sporty handling and the powerful 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder puts this small sports sedan very high on the fun-to-drive meter. The cabin looks good and the entry price gets you lots of performance for the dollar. But if you aren’t looking for firm seats and a firmer ride you need to look at the A3 because the S3 is a serious sports sedan. But the 2015 Audi S3 is comfortable enough to be a daily commuter, especially if you need to get to work quickly.