When Audi revealed the new S3 last September, it did so in the form of the new lighter A3 hatchback. Now it’s been joined by the more versatile Sportback, powered by the same new 296bhp/280 lb-ft 2.0 TFSI four-cylinder engine.

The longer wheelbase S3 Sportback will debut at next month’s Geneva Motor Show before going on sale in the UK from April. First deliveries will arrive in September and Audi says it will be priced no higher than the £31,840.00 of the outgoing model, despite performance and equipment gains.

Otherwise expect a very similar story to the Audi S3 hatchback, with a total of 70kg shaved from its predecessor’s kerb weight. This is partly due to a 5kg lighter engine (now 148kg, which exactly the same as in the Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG) but mainly due to its ultra-high-strength steel passenger cell and light aluminium wings and bonnet.

VAG’s all-new modular transverse platform (MQB) underpins the new S3 Sportback, and enables the front axle with its aluminium subframe and pivot bearings to be shifted forward 52 millimetres compared with the previous model. The new arrangement helps it achieve a more favourable load distribution of 59% front 41% rear, which should quell some of the S3’s reluctance to turn-in (a familiar Audi characteristic).

The S3 Sportback accelerates from zero to 62 mph in 5.0 seconds (when fitted with S tronic transmission), 0.1 seconds quicker than the S3 hatch and 0.4 seconds slower than the recently-revealed Mercedes A45 AMG. It takes 5.5 seconds with the manual transmission and both variant’s top speeds are governed at 155mph.


Combined fuel economy stands at 40.9mpg with S tronic (or 40.4mpg with the manual transmission), corresponding to CO2 emissions of 159g/km (162g/km for the manual). That’s a match for the fuel economy of the more powerful A45 AMG with slightly better CO2 numbers (2g/km better).

At a kerb weight of 1,445kg, the S3 Sportback is 50kg heavier than the hatchback, although you’re unlikely to notice this in normal driving.

As with its newest competitor from Mercedes-AMG, Audi deploys a sound-flap in the exhaust of the S3 that opens at certain engine speeds to give the S3 a more purposeful soundtrack. Mercedes’ system appears to be more sophisticated, with an anti-lag configuration which uses the exhaust flap and fuel mapping to maintain charge pressure at lower revs.

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Audi’s patented LED light system is available on the S3 Sportback as an option, together with automatic high beams and LED cornering lights which illuminate tight corners.

BMW’s M135i (available with Xdrive in Europe) is 70kg heavier, less fuel efficient (36.2 mpg and 182 g/km of CO2), but of course has a rear-wheel drive based chassis which will offer more fun on the limit.

Whichever you choose (BMW, Mercedes or Audi) you’re unlikely to be disappointed – 2013 really is a halcyon year for the hot hatch.