At first glance, the Audi S3 looks rather sexy in all angles but little did we know it was hiding something underneath its hood and chassis for us to enjoy. The S3 is the bad ass (Sport) version of the compact luxury sedan of Audi, the A3. While the outside seems very compact and nimble, the inside tells a very different story. There is about the same interior space as the previous generation, BMW 3 series E 90. It is quite spacious with really, I mean really comfortable and sporty seats in the front and even for the back passengers. The seats are well supported and well bolstered specifically for this model due to its performance oriented handling.
Those seats indeed came handy as we took the S3 for a spin. In comfort mode, it performs like any German sedans; it’s rock solid on the road, comfortable and the cabin is quite insulated form the outside world. But This S3 has something the A3 doesn’t have, selectable driving modes and a lot of horses under the hood. This means, the S3 can be driven as a daily practical runabout sedan or your sports car in 4 doors on the weekends. The lever in the center console can change the S3’s character is split seconds from Auto mode for comfort, Dynamic for Sporty handling, Efficiency for Eco driving and you can also set it to Individual mode to tailor fit it to your driving style. In Auto/comfort mode, the S3 automatically adjust its damper settings in the most comfortable setting just soaking and gliding over bumps like you would expect from a German car. In Dynamic, the S3 starts to change character from being down right boring to having a sports car like performance; increased throttle response, holding gears longer for a sportier feel, steering becomes progressively tight, damper settings stiffer for maximum control and your adrenaline set on maximum for ruggedly sporty driving style. At this mode, the engine growls with power and the torque pushes you back to your seats, leaving you to hear that loud roar from the quad exhaust pipes. The car accelerates really fast with gusto while the Quattro gives you that reassuring grip on the road no matter what speed you are in.
Audi’s are known from beautiful but minimalist interior and this S3 has that minimalist sporty cockpit that it is known for. Audi took most of the switches and controls off the cabin and put it right in its electronic central command system which Audi calls, the MMi. This frees up the cockpit with unwanted buttons so that the driver can concentrate in driving. The good thing about the Audi’s MMi system is that it can be stowed away at a touch of a button if you don’t need it and then pops right up if you do…unlike the competition wherein their screens sticks right out like a big slab of digital tablet on the dashboard and cannot be stowed away. Everything looks simple, yet premium to the touch. There is just the right amount of verve in the S3’s cabin.
Alright, I have to admit that it is not all positive in the S3, nothing is ever 100% ok in any car anyway. While there is enough room in the back, I would have loved a bigger headroom and shoulder room as I would expect 3 passengers seating abreast in the rear would be fighting for shoulder room within 20 minutes of seating right next to each other. I recon that the back seat is only good for 2 passengers seating in extreme comfort while being able to enjoy a little amount of personal space. Then there is the price for such a small wonderful pocket rocket. How do you justify paying close to 5 million for a sport luxury compact car to a prospect? Well, I personally would let them go for a test drive in one (make that an Audi S3 color blue, please) and let them play with it like a kid wanting their cake and eating them too…..and maybe add ice cream. My point is, happiness could come in small packages too you know. It just so happens that the S3 is such a lovely, fun thing to play with that comes in a smaller than the usual sport luxury sedan.
Credits to: Paulo Brambella, Roc Montenegro, Seka Monsanto of Audi Cebu/PGA