New 2020 Audi S3 range launched with 306bhp

Audi S3 Sportback and Saloon get four-wheel-drive and a 4.8-second 0-62mph time

  • Prices start from £37,900
  • Hi-tech interior from the new A3
  • Range-topping Vorsprung trim level due later this year

The new 2020 Audi S3 range has been revealed. It’s more powerful than before, with 306bhp, and is available as a four-door saloon or a five-door ‘Sportback’ hatchback. Both models carry over the new technology and safety kit from the standard car.

The S3 will sit at the top of the A3 model range until the new RS3 arrives next year, going head to head with the Volkswagen Golf R and Honda Civic Type R. Prices start at £37,900 for the hatchback and £38,465 for the saloon, with the first customer deliveries beginning in autumn 2020.

2020 Audi S3 prices and specifications

The starting price is around £400 more than the outgoing model, but there’s a huge array of standard equipment. Every S3 gets LED headlights, nappa leather upholstery, smartphone mirroring and Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster. New driver assistance technology also features, including swerve assist and lane-departure warning.

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Only one trim level will be available at launch, but a fully kitted-out Vorsprung specification will arrive towards the end of the year. It will feature matrix LED headlights, larger alloy wheels, an upgraded digital instrument cluster and additional safety tech such as adaptive cruise control and automated parking assistance. Prices are yet to be revealed for this model, but Audi usually puts a substantial price gap between Vorsprung trim and standard models.

Styling

The new Audi A3 looks sporty as standard, but the S3 ups the ante with a large diffuser and four exhaust tips. Darkened headlights, a hexagonal grille mesh, bigger wheels, aluminium mirror caps and S3 badges also mark the car out as the current range-topper.

Engine and performance

Like the outgoing S3, the new model will feature a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine, which has been used across various VW Group performance models. It produces 306bhp - a slight increase over the previous S3 - and the top speed will be electronically limited to 155mph. Grippy quattro all-wheel drive and a seven-speed automatic gearbox will feature once again, giving the new model a 0-62mph sprint time of just 4.8 seconds, whether you choose the hatchback or saloon.

Audi says the S3 offers great performance and cruising ability, enabled by adjusting the settings for the suspension, engine, gearbox and exhaust note. It means the car can be made quieter and more comfortable on long motorway journeys, with firmer and louder settings available for winding B-roads.

As for fuel economy, 39.2mpg is a pretty good figure given the performance on offer - although the 178g/km CO2 figure does mean that company-car drivers will face a top-tier Benefit-in-Kind liability.

Interior

The interior will be carried over from the standard Audi A3 range, so you can expect an eye-catching and hi-tech cabin. A central touchscreen and Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital dials - both measuring around 10 inches - will be fitted as standard, and the gear selector will be a small toggle switch similar to those found in the new Skoda Octavia vRS and Cupra Leon. Unlike the new Volkswagen Golf and its derivatives, the climate control functions will still be operated by physical buttons.

Over the standard A3, S3 versions will feature a sportier steering wheel design, while other touches like aluminium pedals and suede-like seat inserts also feature.

With all-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox, the Audi S3 will be a close rival to the BMW M135i and M235i Gran Coupe, and the Mercedes-AMG A 35 hatchback and saloon.

What does it mean for car buyers?

The Audi S3 is likely to be more expensive than many hot hatches, because it’s pitched as a premium product. But the desirability of the Audi name means the S3 should retain its value well, and that could mean monthly prices on PCP finance deals could be similar to cheaper hot hatches than you might expect. Traditionally, the Audi S3 hasn’t been able to match the driving experience offered by it’s closest rivals, while those wanting more power will want to wait for the Audi RS3, which is likely to boast over 400bhp.

Read our guide to the best used hot hatchbacks.

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