Audi says that the all-new 2015 Audi S3 Performance sedan gives the S3 driver the choice of running with the fast crowd or leaving them behind. As a first time driver of the new S3, we preferred leaving them behind during our weeklong test drive of a brand new Arctic White Metallic S3 as we raced through, in and around the hills of Central Texas a couple of weeks ago.
The Audi S3 is just now becoming available and its arrival marks the expansion of the entry level A3 sedan series vehicles to include a high-performance S version for true Audi performance aficionados at an affordable price – for an Audi.
The 2015 Audi S3 Performance sedan comes in two trim levels – the Premium Plus with a MSRP of $41,100 and the Prestige (with a few more luxury touches, optional features included and the upgraded Bang & Olufsen audio system included) for $47,000.
S3 Premium Plus test car
Audi sent us a S3 Premium Plus – very well-equipped – with a couple of packages added including the Audi MMI Navigation Plus for $2,600 that included the Audi MMI Navigation with voice control, MMI Touch Control system, Color Driver Information Display and a CD/DVD-player with HD radio. It also included the proprietary Audi connect with on-line services connectivity.
A Driver Assistance Package ($1,400) added Parking Assist and Rearview Camera and Audi Side Assist which monitors the rear and corners for traffic and alerts as necessary when making lane changes.
The performance of our test S3 was nicely enhanced by the addition of the 19-inch Performance Package that increased the wheel size to 19-inch with an anthracite finish 5-double-stoke Star S3 design and also included the Audi Magnetic-ride system – all for another $1,500.
With freight of $895 and the $550 premium for the Arctic White finish, our test 2015 Audi S3 Performance sedan priced at $48,085.
Bottom line – a lot of serious Audi style, premium finishes and get-out-of-the-way performance for under $50,000.
The S3 sports the iconic Audi shape but also includes a fresh aluminum-look Singleframe grille with double horizontal bars nested within the chrome frame outline. The aluminum-look continues on the front with double ribs and honeycomb inserts filling the air inlets in the bumper.
Optional LED headlights and LED daytime running lights finish the ‘get out of the way ’ look on the new S3. The rear of the S3 shows an exclusive trunk lip spoiler, LED tail lights and rear fog lights plus the expected, distinctive quad exhaust outlets mounted in the S-specific rear diffuser.
S3 Power and Performance Drivetrain
The powertrain of the new Audi S3 is the heart of its performance advantage – and it has a strong and finely tuned heart with its 2.0 TFSI four-cylinder engine producing 292 horsepower with 280 lb.-ft. of torque driving through the six-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission to the standard S3 exclusive cast aluminum 18-inch wheels. The drive train power is effectively managed as needed between front and rear axles by the legendary Quattro all-wheel drivetrain enhanced with its newly developed multi-plate clutch.
Fuel economy is very reasonable for the new S3 – rated at 23/31 city/highway and an expected average of 26 mpg. The turbocharged power plant does require premium fuel, but it should not matter to the true Audi driver, as the performance of the power train is typically most important.
The new Audi S3 is very light on its feet, literally, weighing in at 3,450 pounds through the use of large amounts of ultra-high-strength steels throughout the body with aluminum replacing steel in the hood and the front wings.
This relatively light 2015 Audi S3- with its solid turbocharged power plant – plus its very efficient S tronic transmission linked to the Quattro drive train getting the power to the road effectively – races to 0-60 mph in just about 4.7 seconds with governed top track speed of 155 mph.
Another key element of the competitive of Audi S3 performance sedan is its crisp and responsive handling provided by the exclusively designed and tuned S-specific sport suspension that is augmented by the available Audi Magnetic Ride which manages the damping of the suspension system in response to driving conditions.
That, along with Audi Drive Select that enables the driver to adjust the technical components that manage the drive experience to meet their needs, make the S3 a serious performance driver ’s car. Using a button on the center console the driver can select COMFORT, AUTO or DYNAMIC settings to adjust steering, engine, transmission, differential and suspension settings to deliver a range of drive experience from very comfortable to wickedly sporty.
We quickly gravitated to the AUTO setting and found it to provide a nice balance between and a comfortable ride and sporty responsiveness. However, we could not resist running in DYNAMIC when running our local Hill Country test routes. This S3 – in DYNAMIC mode – made really quick work of the hills, valleys and twisty-turning roads, giving us quick and responsive handling in every situation during multiple test drives.
Audi S3 Interior
The inside of the new S3 is all Audi with the expected premium materials and sporty performance styling.
The instrument cluster sets the S3 tone inside. The instrument dials are in an S specific dark gray metallic finish with the numbers and needles in white. The tachometer features a three-dimensional S3 logo and boost pressure indicator.
A very nice panoramic sunroof is standard and showers the cabin with lots of daylight and ambient LED lighting gives the S3 and nice look inside at night.
The S sport front seating is S3 embossed and heated with two-tone Black/Titanium Gray leather that is 12-way power adjustable plus 4-way power adjust.
The S3 steering wheel is leather covered in a three-spoke sport style design with flat bottom and includes multifunction controls and paddle shifters. Aluminum door sill inlays (with S3 emblems), pedals with aluminum inserts, along with Matte Brushed Aluminum interior inlays and aluminum-optic trims accent the S3 performance theme.
Other sporty features include a new MMI touch feature control wheel, toggle switches for the main MMI functions, circular air vents and a retractable ultra-thin MMI screen.
We found the seating to be very supportive with head (36.1-inches) and shoulder (54.8-inches) room very comfortable both driving as well as getting in and out. Particularly, we noted the leg room of 41.2-inches and good seat travel that accommodated us nicely.
Though listed as five-passenger, the back seat space is a bit tighter and the cargo capacity is only 10-cubic feet. But then, we really weren ’t looking to carry passengers or haul much more than an overnight bag when driving the S3.
Infotainment and Technology
The 2015 Audi S3 comes standard with the Audi concert radio 10-speaker system with the Bang and Olufsen (14-speakers) optional for another $850. We found the Audi system perfectly adequate for the S3.
Included also are SiriusXM, Bluetooth wireless and streaming audio, MP3 playback and iPod integration plus rain/light sensors for automatic operation of lights and wipers, keyless/push button start and available adaptive cruise control with stop and go.
We think the Premium Plus trim level packaged like our test S3 should be more than enough sport performance sedan for the discriminating Audi buyer.
Check out the 2015 Audi S3 Performance sedan yourself by going to the Audi S3 Configurator and build one for yourself.