Audi has apparently been conducting some press drives of the upcoming S3 Sportback but only in prototype-guise. This is becoming more and more common in the auto industry, to see manufacturers hand prototypes over to journalists to have a go and provide feedback. In this case, European journos had the chance to drive the upcoming Audi S3 Sportback before the world sees it at the Geneva Motor Show next month.
The cars tested were only prototypes but Audi claims are very, very close to production. Apparently, Audi wanted journalists to tests four specific aspects of the new S3; its progressive steering, dynamic dampers, all-wheel drive and Audi’s drive-select modes. More specifically, Audi wanted these journalists to test how these systems worked together.
According to Audi S3 engineer Sebastien Straasser, “We now have a central dynamic control for systems including the dampers, Quattro all-wheel drive and torque vectoring by braking. Now they all have the same information. For example, they will all know if the car is understeering and all act the same to counter it. When they were decentralized, one didn’t know what the other was doing.”
All of this was done to make sure the Audi S3 rides as comfortably as before but also handles better, has better agility, better precision and better performance. Essentially, Audi wants the S3 to allow its driver to have their cake and eat it, too.
It seems as if Audi’s done an admirable job, as well. According to Autocar News Editor Rachel Burgess, the Audi S3 actually is more dynamic and capable to drive. “The progressive steering – which hasn’t had any dramatic makeovers from its predecessor except to improve feedback – makes inputs effortless. Turn the wheel to a slight angle to hug a tight bend, and there’s rarely need for correction.” she said.
Yet, it apparently hasn’t lost any comfort in the process of getting sharper. “The S3’s ride and refinement has always been a strong point, and this new S3 doesn’t let the side down. The Azores has some unexpected, long patches of cobbled streets, and in ‘Comfort’ suspension mode, the S3 positively soaked them up. Even in ‘Dynamic’, it wasn’t nearly as bad as expected.” said Burgess.
This is encouraging to hear, as the new Audi S3 does look quite a bit better than the previous car, so it’s nice to know it’s not just all face and no trousers, so to speak.