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Audi S3 (2006): first official pictures

Tue, 01 Aug 2006

By Phil McNamara

First Official Pictures

01 August 2006 06:23

The lowdown

Here's the new benchmark for hot hatch acceleration: the 261bhp Audi S3 quattro. Up there with the most powerful hot hatches – the 261bhp BMW 130i and Volkswagen's 250bhp Golf R32 – the S3 is due in the UK in January 2007. Audi claims it despatches the 0-62mph sprint in an impressive 5.7sec. While the BMW and VW run six-cylinder engines, Audi has opted for a high performance version of the Golf GTi's four-cylinder turbo, sending power to all four wheels. A beefy bodykit and 18-inch rims mark out the three-door S3, while the classy cockpit is kitted out with bucket seats, a Bose stereo and automatic air-con. But all that kit means it won't come cheap. Audi is predicting a list price around £27,000 – around £7k more than a Golf GTi.

The headline news is that Audi has overhauled the 2.0-litre direct injection petrol engine, pictured here in the A4. A bigger turbocharger generates 1.2 bar of boost pressure, while a revised intercooler chills the air and makes it extra dense, so that more can be crammed into the cylinders. The results are explosive. Peak power is 265bhp at 6000rpm, with 258lb ft of torque delivered at 2500rpm. The block and internal components have been stiffened to cope with the extra grunt. Transmission is via a close ratio, six-speed manual gearbox and a Haldex clutch that typically splits power 50:50 between axles. The mods don't end with the engine. Stiffer suspension, a fractionally lowered body and a quicker rack should make the S3 feel taut and agile. And bigger, black painted callipers peep out through those multi-spoke alloys. The free-revving S3 hits 62mph from standstill in 5.7sec, almost half a second quicker than BMW's 130i. Top speed is limited to 155mph.

By Phil McNamara