Cars that are equipped with the new traffic jam assist with autonomous steering, braking and acceleration, up to 60 km/h, will feel like driving a spaceship.


Munich, Germany – It has only been two model years since Audi introduced the last A3 and S3 models.

They were a major step forward for Audi with an advanced platform shared with VW’s Golf family of cars. This platform, called MQB, delivers a stiff chassis to which a highly capable and refined suspension and all-wheel drive system is bolted. In addition, the interior made a major step forward in terms of design and sophistication.

The reason we will be getting a refreshed A3 and S3 later this summer is due to the fact the European cars were actually sold a year or more before they were here, so we get the pleasure of a refreshed car sooner.

Audi S3 Sedan
Audi S3 Sedan

Looks

Both the A3 and S3 get revitalized front and rear designs, new wheels and a more polished and mature look. Audi has updated its iconic front grille on many models and here too both models get a larger and squarer grille framed by smaller standard xenon front headlamps or optional LED headlamp technology (the LED headlamps come standard on the S3).

In addition, the front bumper has been updated to include larger air intakes and around the back, there is a new rear bumper along with an updated rear air diffuser.

Wheel sizes range from 17 to 19-inches on the A3 and 18 or 19-inches on the S3. The A3 and S3 are the smallest cars in the Audi family available here but they project a larger than life attitude that makes them look loftier and they certainly don’t look basic in any way.
Inside

The inside of the A3 and S3 was already a study in how to do a small luxury car well. The materials were first rate and the layout simple but classy at the same time.

For 2017, Audi has invested in more upscale materials, a new steering wheel and most importantly an available virtual cockpit. Available only on the top Technik versions of both the A3 and S3, this is a 31cm screen behind the steering wheel that replaces the analog dials found in the the lower versions.

As the name suggests, it is virtual, meaning the driver can select the look and readout depending on the task. While using the navigation system, the entire screen can be used as a map, with turn-by-turn information. It really does look futuristic and upscale but it is too bad only the top trim has this feature.

The regular dash is pleasing and all models still come with a centre 14.7-centimetre screen for all other basic driver needs and available navigation.
Drive

The way the existing A3 and S3 drive is nothing to complain about and in the case of the S3 Audi didn’t change anything to do with the engine or transmission. It still has a potent 2.0-litre turbocharged engine with a healthy 292hp and a 6-speed dual clutch transmission.

The A3, however, gets some nice updates. Gone is the base 1.8-litre 4-cylinder, replaced by a very good 2.0-litre turbocharged engine that puts out 186hp. This engine is only offered on the base front wheel drive model and is unique because it is the only version to also get a new 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission.

The rest of the A3 family gets the same 220hp 2.0-litre engine and 6-speed found in the current car. It is likely that the new 7-speed transmission forum in the base car will migrate across the entire lineup at a future date.
Verdict

In total, the updates to the A3 and S3 can be seen as minor on some levels but significant on others.

For example, if the buyer chooses the virtual cockpit, this is a major update, the cars without this look similar to the current cars. Cars that are equipped with the new traffic jam assist with autonomous steering, braking and acceleration, up to 60 km/h, will feel like driving a spaceship, the cars without will still require the driver to do the work.

The new base model will probably sell better now due to a vastly improved 2.0L engine and 7-speed automatic that was engaging and rather fun to drive.

Pricing for the A3 and S3 have not been confirmed but due to a highly competitive sales environment, expect the list price to stay very close to the existing model.

zack [dot] spencer [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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