The Super Hatch For The Super Man | Audi S3 Sportback

BY Azfar Hashim

If you’re the sort who moves around a whole lot but do not possess the super power of the man with the red cape (and underwear outside), then read this

Photos: Azfar Hashim

The latest iteration of Audi’s S3 is faster and has a slightly better build quality over the Golf GTI, takes you places in a jiffy, and does the job of a supercar and family hatchback in just one package. 

And I am not exaggerating. Really. Just how on earth did Audi manage to come up with this scheme? By planting a highly tuned 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder lump under the bonnet, and then pair it to a 6-speed S-tronic ‘box. The rest, as they would say, is history: 276 bhp at your disposal and then 380 Nm available from as low as 1,800 rpm. Jaw-dropping stuff.

Century sprint is done in - wait for it - 4.8 seconds. All these figures are enough to make the Megane RS265 break into a little sweat.

Now the question: how does it drive? The S3 is one car that does not have any sort of problem climbing up the rev range to reach the red line. In fact, power delivery is progressive; and then brutal when you switch to ‘Dynamic’ mode. Next thing you know, you are running out of road already. Gears two and three are exactly where you would want to stay if you really need to dart across and offend supercars. Oh, and not forgetting that lustrous exhaust note to accompany your every move; again, especially in Dynamic. To be more specific, Audi manage to make the engine sound more like a 5-cylinder than a four-potter. Woah…

By the way, it farts louder at every single gear changes too. Truth be told, this is the sort of car that, despite coming along with several different driving modes to make it an all-rounder — from Efficiency, Comfort, Auto, Dynamic to Individual (where you can set your own preference for the engine/exhaust, transmission and steering weight) — it deserves to be driven solely in Dynamic, and gears shifting via you through the paddle-shifters. It’s just satisfying that way.

When Audi was working on this car, the engineers apparently had only one thing in mind: to make it perform just as well as the RS4, albeit in a smaller package and lower price bracket. All the right boxes were ticked, but like every other force-fed cars, there is still that noticeable lag as you floor the accelerator when the light turns green.

This Sir, is one tight and able handler. With a rather short length of 4,324 mm and wheelbase of only 2,631 mm, then coupled with Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system, you can chuck the S3 into any tight bends or almost 90-degree turn at slightly faster-than-usual speeds and be surprised at how quickly it responds. The downside though, is the slightly artificial steering feel along the way, something you need some getting used to. Body-roll is well controlled for a sports hatchback, but however, you do feel more confident in Renault’s Megane RS265. If you’re wondering just how comfortable it is, I’m sorry to report that it will be a rather hard ride for passengers — yes, even in Comfort mode. But hey, if you want real comfort, Toyota’s Auris might be a better bet…

Interior build quality is typical Audi, which means everything is well put together and should be able to last longer than it’s COE lifespan. In terms of architecture, every control buttons are logically placed, with the turbine-like air-con vent set to be the center of attention. The seats are all wrapped in premium Nappa leather, but if you are in the midst of specifying your S3, please don’t get it in this shade of dull grey as seen here. While driving out of Audi Singapore’s HQ car park, I fell asleep and nearly ran over the cleaner. Then while driving home in the MCE, I fell asleep again. That’s how boring it is, and I swore I had a good seven hours of sleep the night before...

At the end of the day despite the niggles, the Audi S3 remains a God-sent performance hatchback for those of you who needs to go everywhere fast day in, day out. There’s the power, there’s the tenacity and there’s the street-cred; let’s not forget the useful cabin and boot space as well.

But if you think the $262,950 price is a little too hard to swallow, then the Golf GTI still remains a good alternative.

Or perhaps the upcoming Golf R…