2024 Audi S3 promises to be sportier than ever with 328bhp – prototype review

Audi’s hot hatchback will receive a facelift this year along with multiple performance upgrades – we drive the prototype

  • Power increase to 328bhp
  • Greater focus on agility
  • Full reveal later this year

These are the first teaser images of the facelifted Audi S3, the German marque’s spicier variant of the regular A3. Although we’ll have to wait until later this year to see it without the garish camouflage, Audi has revealed a handful of technical details about the new S3, and it looks to bring an even greater focus on performance and handling over the outgoing model.

The Audi S3 has always performed a tricky role in the brand’s lineup, sitting above the regular A3 in terms of price and driving engagement, but never outshining the much more potent RS 3. Our first drive of a prototype S3 proves that Audi still knows how to find this balance, while subtly improving performance in the areas that needed it most.

What do we know so far about the 2024 Audi S3?

Visually, the changes for the 2024 Audi S3 are set to be fairly minor, with a pair of new, more aggressive bumpers, along with revised headlights and tail-lights that will be shared with the regular A3. We expect a new set of wheel designs to choose from, plus new paint colours added to the palette. Both Sportback (hatchback) and saloon bodystyles will continue to be offered in 2024, with the latter expected to cost marginally more, as before.

Things start to get more interesting under the sheet metal, with a host of engine and chassis upgrades to ensure the new S3 is the most exciting to drive yet. A 22bhp power bump is the headline figure, bringing the total to 328bhp – more than the Mercedes-AMG A 35 or the Volkswagen Golf R upon which the S3 is based. 

The S3 shares its four-cylinder engine with the hot Golf, and sends power to all four wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Software upgrades allow the new model to swap cogs even faster than before, marginally dropping the 0-62mph time to 4.7 seconds. A new ‘torque splitter’ on the rear axle, pinched from the RS 3, helps the S3 grip better through the corners and works in conjunction with a new ‘Dynamic Plus’ driving mode.

2024 Audi S3 prototype review – Jordan Katsianis

We had a chance to drive a late-stage Audi S3 prototype last year on the mountain roads of Oman, and we came away impressed by its improved responsiveness and feedback across all aspects of the driving experience.

The engine, although more powerful and quicker to respond in Dynamic Plus mode, isn’t the star of the show. Instead, the steering offers the most noticeable difference over the outgoing S3, with a more positive feel and marginally more weight. There’s still a hint of understeer, but the chassis tweaks make the new S3 more enjoyable to thread along a twisty road than its predecessor.

The added communication through the wheel is backed up by tighter body control and a more playful rear end, thanks to the new torque splitter. Ride quality remains impressive, with the adjustable suspension perfectly comfortable in its softest setting, while Dynamic Plus mode tightens things up and adds to the car’s new athletic feel.

We’ll have to test a production version of the new S3 on our home soil to truly find out if the hot hatchback can match its rivals for driving excitement. It’s still some way off the complete dynamic package offered by the RS 3, but a newfound focus on responsiveness and feedback is certainly welcome.

There are still plenty of hot hatchbacks to choose from in 2024 – read our top 10 list of the best…

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