In a recent review from Digital Trends, the author takes us to task for complaining about the lack of manuals, wagons and any other typical auto journalism trope. Not just us, though, but every other automotive journalist that complains about the same thing. And we all do it. This is because cars like the American-spec Audi S3 that lack the hatchback body Europe gets and lack the manual option Europe gets are still really flipping great cars. But we complain anyway.
The review this was said in was for the recently-refreshed 2017 Audi S3 which, despite not having a hatchback option or manual option in the US, is an excellent little sports car.
While the pre-refresh Audi S3 was widely considered a good car but not a great one, thanks to its relatively uninspiring handling, this refreshed model seems to have remedied that. To make this happen, Audi mainly revised its Haldex all-wheel drive system in terms of both software and hardware. Firstly, Audi delegated the computing duty for the electronic multi-plate clutch, traction control and stability control all to one ECU. This quickens the car’s shift in power and reflexes, as it can now think faster. But Audi also now gave the S3 the ability to send 100 percent of the power to either axle, making the S3 far more neutral and balanced in corners. Overall, it’s a massive improvement, in terms of handling and stability.
Thanks to the newly revised all-wheel drive system, the Audi S3 has become unflappable. While all Quattro-equipped Audis have tremendous grip, the new S3 feels incredibly confident, with very little understeer. Put your right foot flat to the floor through corners and instead of traction and stability control coming down like anvils, as well as terminal understeer, it simply claws into the pavement and fires out, using its clever brain and all-wheel drive capabilities to find grip.
Even though, in the US, the Audi S3 hasn’t gained anymore power, still packing 292 hp and 280 lb-ft, we reckon this new car will be considerably quicker around a track. That’s because its handling dynamics are far improved and its traction is better. The new S3 can get from 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds, so not really any faster than the previous car. But with increased handling, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
The only real problem that found with the S3 is its price. While its base price of $42,000 isn’t outrageous considering its performance capabilities, adding any good options balloons the price to, frankly, ridiculous levels.
But if you can afford it, the Audi S3 is a superb daily performance sedan because it’s not only fast and capable but it’s also comfortable and hight-tech. The interior is handsome and filled with rich materials as well as impressive technology. But it’s the optional Virtual Cockpit that steals the show on the inside. Now available on the Audi A3/S3 with the Technology Package, the Virtual Cockpit is a must have, as it replaces the traditional gauge cluster with a high-def screen that can display either the speedo and tach gauges or a massive navigation screen.
Overall, Digital Trends seems to think that the newly-refreshed Audi S3 is a great all-around package. It has great performance, handles well, looks good and has a superb interior. Even though it doesn’t have a manual or hatchback option, as enthusiasts would prefer, it’s still a great car and we need to stop complaining.