I had the pleasure of having a new S3 while my car was being serviced at the weekend. This was due to only the service and parts dept. being open as the showroom is being re-fitted and only one sales guy was in. I know him well now and have been a loyal customer and he obviously trusts me so gave me the keys - couldn't believe it, I wished I'd got there at 8:30 instead of 10:00 as it had to be back for 13:00.
It looks aggressive from the front and will benifit from the black detail kit on the grille in leu of the chrome. From the back and side is lacks visual impact but that will appeal to many but personally i would seek more differentiation from s-lines. Standard wheels look good and so do the dull aluminium mirrors ala rs items.
Inside, the car looks and feels great. The gearstick has a shorter throw, looks awesome and the seats have great adjustment and go to the floor unlike my 8L S3 recaros. The seats were the standard ones with a kind of golf ball dimple to them which are very comfortable though only moderately supportive c.f. the RS4 buckets but certainly as supportive as the 8L s3 recaros, which will suit fatty's. There is quite a bit of piano finishing and it looks like it will mark easily, also this car had the standard steering wheel though it is nicely sized. The steering is way over-assisited imo and bordering on dangerous as its so easy to turn; It lacks a bit of feedback also but makes the car feel more agile and easier to throw about when you get used to it.
Is impressive, it pulls hard from just below 2000rpm all the way to the redline without fall off. It is akin to a strong re-mapped 8L with the benifit of an extended rev-range and less lag. Once your up to cruising speed its versitility becomes apparant and you realy don't need to downshift when you require a bit of extra grunt. The car seems less stiff than the older model which is a bit suprising at that wasn't the stiffest of set-ups but this model deffinately handles better and inspires more confidence to push on. In-fact of tight roundabouts you could provoke oversteer with predictability even with teh esp engaged. The brakes are also a vast improvement and possibly a little overbiased to the front as under extreme breaking the car starts to tail-wag a littlte until the esp interferes. The car sounds a little noisey and tapperty on idle but that could be the fact that the car has just experienced the hardist 250 mile of it life in its infantile 320 miles covered so-far.
There are some great little touches to the car, including the DIS- lap counter, oil temp and digital speedo indicator but surely they could have added a boost gauge to the DIS-CAN function.
Its great value given the standard features, but imo would require a few extras such as buckets (though the render the back seats useless), the RS4 type wheel, sat-nav, and most importantly a loud S3 'only' colour such as Imola, solar orange or Nogaro (not available) so Sprint blue.
Bring on the re-mappers, this could deliver 300/320 +