December 20, 2000

Audi Updates The S3
Article Compiled by George Achorn

For owners of both Volkswagen and Audi in America, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. It would seem every model sold here has some bizarro world equivalent on the European continent that has higher power, more options or some other factor that the US enthusiast yearns for.

Perhaps one of the most sought after products we in North America can't get our grubby little driving gloves on is the Audi S3. Okay, maybe it plays second to the RS4, but it's still very high on the list.

A 3-door version of the VW Group's A-chassis, the S3 features all of the components we dream about over here. The highest horsepower version of the venerable 1.8T engine is mated to a 6-speed transmission and coupled with the new Haldex all-wheel-drive system to create the ultimate compact car to come from this particular corporate partsbin.

While those components can also come in the higher end Audi TT here in the states, the S3 offers something else. The upright 3-door shape of the car adds a dose of practicality that can seat 5 in a pinch and has a generous trunk.

The S3 also benefits from more of the sleeper effect than the TT. While it will garner gawks from Audiphiles, others like police will pass it by without a glance.

With the recent design changes applied to the Audi A3, it was simply a matter of time before versions of the S3 sharing these changes began to show on the European market.

On the outside, the new S3 benefits from a modified front-end design with a new radiator grille and spoiler, a one-piece ellipsoidal-principle headlights with clear glass; xenon headlights and tail lights with new internal geometry.

New safety equipment has also been added to the S3. The Electronic Stability Program ESP is part of the standard specification of all S3s made for the German market. The side head airbag system SIDEGUARD, which protects the head and neck areas of all outboard passengers in a side impact, is also available.

Other components found in new versions of Audi S cars have also been incorporated into the new S3. The car's "S3" badge is now in the same style as 2001 models of the S4 and S8. Aluminum exterior mirrors are also an option seemingly available on all offerings in the S range.

Power on the S3 remains the same at 210bhp, just 5 shy of the top-end TT. Combined with quattro driveline and 6-speed manual gearbox as standard, it requires just 6.9 seconds for the sprint from 0-62 mph.

This newest version of the S3 looks even better than before. Sadly, it will still not be added to the North American Audi lineup with little to no possibility of coming over. However, with the new A4 growing larger, and Audi having a record sales year, it is possible that future versions of the A3 and variations like the S3 could possibly come stateside in the future. For now, we can only dream.

Click here for more photos of the Audi S3.