Driven: Audi S3 Sportback 2009
Audi's smallest model is the A3 (in 2009), the sporting version of which is the S3. In this case one letter difference spells out a hugely different car.
The stylish extended hatch version (it's not quite a wagon), the Sportback S3 comes packing a punch. A 188kW turbo 2-litre, with 6-speed box mated to Audi's famous quattro all-wheel-drive system gives this car extremely impressive all-round competence and performance, giving the driver great confidence in any conditions. There's 330Nm of torque available, so it's a heap of fun to drive.
0-100km/h takes this little Audi just 5.7 seconds. No snorting, coughing high-performance monster, it's as easy as you like to drive around town, but has a sting in its tail on your command. The combination of handling, braking, power and torque in a relatively lightweight car makes a formidable package.
Audi's build quality is arguably the best in the business these days – evident even in this small model.
And the equipment levels are good too. Our test car even had the novel automatic parallel parking option. 18-inch alloy wheels and a subtle body kit look very smart and give the little Audi a fine stance on the road.
It sits a level above the Golf GTi. At $65,900 buyers of cars like Subaru's WRX STi and Mitsubishi's Evo X ought to give this superior quality pocket rocket serious consideration.
Engine type: 2-litre 4-cylinder, turbocharged
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Performance: 0-100km/h 5.7 seconds
Price: $65,900 at time of review
Photo & text - Paul Blank (copyright)