Audi S3 Quattro 2.0 TFSI Review: S express

Audi S3 Quattro 2.0 TFSI Review: S express

OneShift Editorial Team
OneShift Editorial Team
01 Jan 2009
What we like:
High quality
luxurious interior. Engine doesn't run out of breath even when close to redline.
What we dislike:
Vague shift action. Turbo lag at lower engine speeds.

Audi offers quattro to a variety of models within its range but not all quattro models are similar. In models with its engine mounted transversely like the S3, a Haldex clutch type all-wheel drive system is employed.

The S3’s Haldex system is shared with the Golf R32 and it apportions torque to each wheel depending on the slip. In normal driving situations, most of the power is sent to the front wheels, with only a small proportion to the rear. As soon as the ABS sensors detect any wheel slip, the clutch in the centre differential can channel a significant percentage of torque to the rear wheels. Both the front and rear axles offer additional mechanical differentials to transfer between left and right.

It all sounds complicated but the S3’s Haldex system works as well as in those models with longitudinally-mounted motors like the S5 and RS 6. The power flow between the wheels are seamless, and you have little idea that the system is working hard even in extreme cornering manoeuvers.

Without a rear-drive biased drivetrain like, say, the RS 4, the S3 understeers earlier in normal circumstances. But fret not as a slight lift of the throttle will tuck its nose in and tighten the cornering line.

The S3’s helm feels pretty ok at initial turn in, but it doesn’t load up as nicely as you hoped for as you wind in more lock into the corner. It feels surefooted and stable in most situations, and is extremely easy to drive fast in.

Despite its sporty nature, the S3 offers a pliant and comfortable ride – there were none of those jarring feeling that you’ll get in Mitsubishi’s Evo.

At almost $170k, this is a really expensive proposition, especially when you consider that a more powerful Subaru Impreza WRX STI costs just a fraction of its asking price. But the S3 is a different animal when compared to Japanese performance heroes like the STI. The latter just doesn’t have the sophisticated and expensive feel as the Audi.

To sum it up – if money is not a problem, then the S3 could well be the ultimate hot hatch...

For now, at least.

Credits: Story by Raymond Lai, pictures by Azfar Hashim

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