Audi S3 Sportback driven

2 December, 2013 | by Dan Read

It’s an S3 with an extra pair of doors. So forgive us for starting at the boring end, because, although we’d like to talk about the 220kW at the front of the car, we must first discuss luggage space. Of which there is 380 litres with the seats up, or 1200 when they’re down. That’s 15 litres more than the three-door S3, or about the volume of your average water-cooler bottle. More importantly, it’s 20 litres more than its main rival – the BMW 135i, also in five-door flavour.

If these were the three-door versions, we’d care less. They’re hot hatches, so fast comes first. But the only reason you may choose five portals on a car like this is because – despite your fast inclinations – you genuinely need the extra room and accessibility, whether it’s for stuff in the boot or humans on the back seats. For the same reason it’s also worth knowing that the Sportback has a 35mm longer wheelbase, boosting rear legroom. And those few millimetres and litres may mean the difference between nine shopping bags or 10. Or squeezing children through a tiny gap versus throwing them in through a wide open door.

Thankfully, the added usefulness changes nothing about the way the S3 goes. One minute, you’re here; the next, you’re there…probably early, and with a slight gap in your memory. Because once the turbo breathes out and the quattro hooks up, your only job is to watch the world smudge by. The S tronic ‘box boshes through gears with staggering hunger, and the four-wheel drive sorts out any slippage. And before you know it, you’re checking your mirror, wondering if the law noticed.

Of course, you may wish to contribute more to the driving experience. So if the Audi’s aloofness troubles you, there’s always the RWD – but similarly plain-looking – BMW. It’s within 0.1 seconds of the Audi to 100kph, and it too will go on to 250kph. And when fitted with an automatic gearbox, it’s only a touch more expensive than the Sportback. Which is probably what you’ll save by filling fewer shopping bags.

Four rings exert a powerful pull, and the Sportback’s added practicality is another string to the S3′s bow. It’s fast and secure and for most buyers, that might just be enough.

Dan Read

The numbers
1984cc, 4cyl petrol, 4WD, 220kW, 380Nm, 159g/km CO2, 0-100kph in 5.0secs, 240kph, 1445kg,

The verdict
Audi’s superhatch gets roomier and more practical. Fast and flattering to the driver, but still oddly cold.

     

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