Apart from the way they look, the differences between the old and the new S3 are subtle. As it turns out, the same is true about their performance.
Looking under the hood, you’d be forgiven for not noticing any difference at all. Both cars use a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder and they both make 306 hp and 400 Nm (295 lb-ft) of torque.
Moreover, both use Audi‘s 7-speed S tronic transmission and send power to all four wheels. Although Audi may have been making subtle improvements to the drivetrain, the biggest difference is in the weight.
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With all of its new comfort improvements, the new S3 weighs in at 1,575 kg (3,470 lbs) while the old one tips the scales at 1,445 kg (3,185 lbs) – a 130 kg (nearly 300 lb) difference.
Despite that, the new car manages to beat the old one, albeit just barely. The victory appears to be thanks to the car maintaining power at the higher end of the rev range. Although the two were neck and neck the whole race, it was thanks to the new S3’ss more consistent power delivery that it managed to eek out a win.
The race was close, though, with the new S3 finishing the quarter-mile in 13.1 seconds and the old one in 13.2 seconds. It’s a result that’s confirmed in the rolling race.
Again, both cars take off at about the same pace, with the old S3 pulling ahead ever so slightly. As the race goes on, though, the new car’s high-end torque helps pull it past the old car and onto another victory. The reviewer does note, though, that the transmission feels slower than it used to.
Even in the brake test, which usually catches out bigger, heavier cars, the new S3 wins. Again, though, it’s only by a hare’s breath.
And while it might seem like that’s not enough improvement in performance terms, it’s worth remembering that the S3 has always been the halfway point between the hardcore RS3 and lesser A3s, so being quicker, but also more comfortable and luxurious, is kind of the point.