BMW and Mercedes are getting some compact competition.
BMW and Mercedes-Benz each have new products in the sub-compact entry-level space, but Audi is ready to match them with a new model of its own. The all-new 2021 Audi S3 already debuted to a European audience, but more details on a US-specific release are now available. Audi says the updated A3 and S3 models will arrive at US dealerships in mid-late 2021, likely as 2022 model year vehicles.
Powering the S3 is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 305 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. This is 17 hp and 15 lb-ft more than the outgoing model, though these gains are based on European-spec output, meaning the US model could differ slightly. With 305 hp, the S3 just edges out its two key rivals, the BMW M235i Gran Coupe and Mercedes-AMG A35.
A seven-speed S Tronic dual-clutch transmission sends power to a Quattro all-wheel-drive system, rocketing the S3 to 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds, falling short of the times set by the M235i and A35. On a live question and answer session, Audi confirmed that a manual transmission won't be offered on the new S3, nor will the hatchback bodystyle come to the US market. That bright Python Yellow paint you see on the S3 Sportback will be coming to the US though, so that's some good news.
This new S3 is 1.6 inches longer and 0.8 inches wider than the car it replaces, and it sits 0.6 inches lower than the A3 on which it is based. The S3 also looks more aggressive with a rhombus pattern RS-inspired honeycomb grille, real quad-tip exhaust, and available matrix-design headlights.
Inside, the S3 feels more special than an A3 thanks to newly-designed power-adjustable S sport seats with diamond stitching. From the driver's seat, S3 owners can control the car using a standard 10.1-inch MMI touchscreen combined with an available 12.3-inch virtual cockpit with S display. These screens allow the driver to adjust the new S sport suspension with damper control with performance and comfort modes. There is also a modular dynamic handling control, which links to the Electronic Stabilization Control, adaptive dampers, and Quattro system.
An available head-up display and top-view camera system join the roster of S3 features, as does a new black roof option. Pricing information will come closer to the on-sale date next year. We expect the 2022 S3 to creep above the outgoing car's starting MSRP of $43,000.