2015 Audi S3 Quick Take: Big Thing, Small Package
It's not a hot hatch but it sure feels like one. The 2015 Audi S3 sounds and handles like a Volkswagen Golf GTI while upping the interior refinement and adding the usual features you'd expect to find in an Audi today. This is a match we expect will be popular for buyers in the luxury compact car segment.
Drawing power from a 2.0-liter TFSI engine, rated at 292 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, you'd expect some torque steer when a car this size meets that much power head-on. However, this isn't the case and the S3's handling is on par with its corporate sibling, the Volkswagen Golf R. It's also worth mentioning that both the 2015 Audi S3 and Volkswagen Golf MK7 both sit on the same Volkswagen Group MQB platform, hence the familiar handling. Audi's class-exclusive magnetic ride sport suspension chips in to make taking corners at speed comfortable and can be adjusted with the simple push of a button on the dashboard. Three different settings (Sport, Comfort, and Custom) let the driver dictate how the S3's suspension will manage the road ahead.
Pocket-sized Canyon Carver
Charging up a mountain road, the S3 feels at home riding corners with the same ease a professional surfer takes to an incoming swell. Steering is responsive without snapping back to center making it fun for the driver and keeping motion sickness at a minimum for the passengers. Slipping the dual-clutch automatic gear shifter into Sport mode, the S3 jumps to attention making throttle response crisper, remapping shift points, and recalibrating the suspension. The S3 lets out that familiar grunting noise also heard escaping from the Golf R's exhaust pipes when stomping on the throttle. Leave the S3 in Comfort mode though and it'll do just as the setting says. During a 200-mile roundtrip excursion over Thanksgiving weekend, the S3 was comfortable, quiet, and fun to drive.
While not a big fan of the tablet-style infotainment screen personally, the S3's version didn't look to out of place, probably because of the overall size of the car. The large rotary dial to tune radio stations was easy to interact with for both the driver and front passenger as it sits between the two. Being that the S3 is a compact car in every sense of the word; no buttons were more than an arm's length away from the driver. As usual, the Google Maps interface Audi uses was clear, accurate, and easy to interact with. Next to Fiat-Chrysler's Garmin system, this is the best in the industry currently.
With razor sharp handling, a fun exhaust note, and enough space to pack a few bags in the trunk for a weekend getaway, the Audi S3 can hang with the best of them. Combine that with a comfortable interior and an observed combined fuel economy hovering around the EPA rated 26 mpg, and the 2015 Audi S3 deserves a look.
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