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S3 225bhp Review - EVO - May 2002

amoffat Jan 16, 2003

  1. amoffat

    amoffat Member


    The poor old S3 has always seemed to live in the shadow of its more
    glamorous cousin, the so-cool-it-hurts TT. The spoilsports at Audi HQ even
    denied the S3 the full 225bhp of the TT at launch, limiting it to 210bhp,
    even though the running gear is near identical. Well, they couldn't have the
    ugly duckling see off the glamourous coupe, could they? But that was then
    and this is now as the revised S3 finally gets the full 225bhp, together
    with some useful chassis tweaks. Time to revisit this rather forgotten
    upmarket hot hatch.

    It might have been around for a while but the S3 still looks rather
    appealing in an understated way, especially in the midnight blue of our test
    car. Ours also came with the optional 18-inch wheels which give it a visual
    lift; without them only aluminum door mirrors and subtle badges give clues
    to this car's potential. I suppose that's half the appeal.

    If you've read any of our recent tests on Audis you'll know that this is
    usually the point at which we start banging on about grotty gearchanges,
    droning engines and over-servoed brakes. You can practically write an Audi
    piece to a ready-made template, just changing the model name as appropriate.
    Unfortunately for me I can't do that with this S3 because things have
    changed for the better. As Richard Meaden hinted when he drove the TT with
    Sportsline suspension (evo 040), Audi has sharpened up its act to the point
    where the cars, and particularly the chassis, are getting a lot better.

    The S3 now has even firmer springs than before, but it seems better balanced
    front to rear than previous models which, together with tighter damper
    control, leads to sharper turn-in. All good news for the press-on driver,
    the only fly in the ointment being the weighty feel to the steering either
    side of centre. If they could get round to adding extra feel rather than
    weight to the helm, that would be the icing on the cake. Even the brakes
    feel relatively normal, with none of the irritating low-speed grabbiness for
    which Audi is notorious. The only potential problem is the relatively early
    onset of fade during serious abuse.

    The next surprise is the S3's short gearing. The ratios are so tightly
    stacked that you'll need to grab third before you hit 60 and it takes
    another change into fourth to crest 80mph. So the 6.6sec 0-62 time tells
    only half the story. To maximise the available performance you'll have to
    make full use of the six close ratios on offer, although the jump from fifth
    to sixth is a lot wider. Well, the impressive 151mph top speed had to come
    from somewhere.

    You'll be sitting comfortably in the S3 thanks to superb Recaro seats,
    similar to the ones in the wild RS4. Decent seats make so much difference to
    a car that it's a constant wonder more manufacturers don't follow suit. Add
    in the quattro four-wheel-drive system, the compact dimensions and the
    excellent visibility allowed by the upright body and you'll soon realise
    there aren't many quicker ways point-to-point this side of an Impreza STi.
    But the S3 is a lot more discreet than any Japanese rally weapon.

    Of course much of this could apply to the TT, but I don't remember the
    coupe's steering being quite as sharp as this, nor do you enjoy the
    considerable stealth value of the more conservative A3 body, which adds to
    its appeal. The S3 is also £2000 cheaper, 45kg lighter and a fair bit more
    spacious than a TT.

    If you're after discreet performance look no further than this car, which
    I'd choose over even the recently improved TT. For keen drivers, the revised
    S3 is currently the best car Audi makes.

    Verdict: ****
    Like: Looks; seats; much improved chassis

    Dislike: Needs a bit more steering feel

    Engine: In-line 4-cyl, 1781cc, 20V, turbo
    Max power: 225bhp @ 5900rpm
    Max torque: 206lb ft @ 2200rpm
    0-60mph: 6.6sec
    Top speed: 151mph
  2. amoffat

    amoffat Member

    Thanks Al /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif I am actually having problems posting on as.ent from work at the moment, keep getting 'Page Cannot Be Displayed'. Have to keep retrying to get the post to work. Large posts are impossible and I have to do those from home.

    Strange thing is, on new sites it works fine for a while and then happens /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/confused.gif
  3. S3fan

    S3fan Kiteyboy

    Which wheels were the optional 18 inchers?
  4. jojo

    jojo Looking for Boost! Staff Member Moderator Team Daytona Audi S3 quattro Audi A6 Audi Avant Owner Group

    RSTT 9 Spokes.
  5. BroomeyS3

    BroomeyS3 Member

    These are the Wheels,
  6. vetch

    vetch S3

    So chassis wise, were the only differences between pre and post face lift revised springs and dampers?
  7. Gareth_RS3

    Gareth_RS3 Member

    thread ressurection or what 2003 lol, intersesting to hear what evo thought of it at the time tho
  8. jojo

    jojo Looking for Boost! Staff Member Moderator Team Daytona Audi S3 quattro Audi A6 Audi Avant Owner Group

    Revised ARBs and different design front lower track arms I think, though I stand to be corrected. I have facelift lower track arms fitted on mine, never got to see them myself, but the mechanic told me they were lighter than the original ones??

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