Audi AG continues to expand its high-performance “S” offerings with the upcoming launch of the S3, the next Audi model (following the TT coupe) to feature the company's new development of quattro all-wheel drive (see WEVTU — July 15, '98, p.5).

The high-performance variant of the utilitarian A3 hatchback is powered by the same 1.8L DOHC I-4 found in a variety of Volkswagen AG/Audi models. In the S3 application, the 5-valves-per-cylinder engine is turbocharged and intercooled, developing 210 hp at 5,800 rpm and 199 ft.-lbs. (270 Nm) of torque at 2,700 rpm. Audi says the engine complies with Euro Stage III-D exhaust emissions standards.

The only available transmission for the S3 is a close-ratio 6-speed manual. In addition to quattro drive, the S3 is fitted with Audi's electronic differential lock (EDL) at the front axle to aid in apportioning drive to the wheel or wheels with maximum traction. The S3 is fitted with 17-in. (43-cm) wheels and a sport suspension — comprised of McPherson struts at the front and semi-trailing arms with dual transverse links at the rear — that slightly reduces ride height.

In addition to the S3, Audi says it also will launch a 5-door variant of the A3 along with the S3 this spring.

The A3 is built on the same VW/Audi platform as the Golf/Jetta and A4, which also underpins various Skoda and Seat models. Until now, the A3 was available only as a 3-door model, and the addition of the 5-door and S3 completes the A3 lineup.