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2016 Audi S3 front end in motion 02 Our final chapter, however, has brought a smile back, as we’re driving a 2016 Audi S3 2.0T Premium Plus. The base price is $43,425, but before you spit out your Pilsner, remember that the S3 packs the biggest punch of the littlest Audi sedans. The 2.0-liter, 292-horsepower engine – the same EA888 turbocharged inline-four from the VW Golf R hot hatch – propels the 3,420-pound four-door to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds.

That’s faster than a Mustang GT. A smooth- (when you want it) and quick-shifting two-mode, six-speed double-clutch transmission sends power to all four wheels to make this feat possible. There’s also a quasi-launch control mode that reduces shift times but increases head-toss. The EPA rates the 2016 Audi S3 at 23 city/31 highway and 26 mpg combined. Our in-house real MPG lab returned slightly less efficient results with 20.3/32.0/24.3 mpg respectively. In everyday use, which includes an unusual amount of stop-and-go traffic, we’re averaging between 24-25 mpg, mirroring our lab’s combined result.

Major standard features in the S3 Premium Plus trim include Xenon headlamps with pressure washers, a panoramic sunroof, leather seats (heated up front with 60/40 split-fold in back), shift paddles, satellite radio, Bluetooth phone/audio, iPod/iPhone integration, parking sensors with rearview camera, and eight airbags.

To that we added white metallic paint ($575), red brake calipers ($400), fantastically supportive diamond-quilted S Sport seats ($1,450), Performance package with 19-inch wheels/summer tires and magnetorheological dampers ($1,500), and the Technology package ($2,600) that includes a CD/DVD player, HD radio, MMI Navigation Plus with voice control and touchpad, Audi Connect online services, and blind-spot warning system. The jaw-dropping grand total is $49,950, which puts it deep into the larger Audi A4 model range and even the low A6 model range.

2016 Audi S3 cockpit

Happily, we can report that the A3 TDI’s lazy power delivery and recalcitrant transmission programming are completely absent in the S3, and not just because this car has more power. With the Drive Select mode in Automatic and the transmission in Drive, the S3 is smooth and docile in everyday driving, with predictable acceleration and intuitive automatic gear changes. Selecting “S” with the transmission lever holds gears longer and match-revs downshifts aggressively in preparation for a corner. It’s also very useful in bumper-to-bumper traffic, minimizing dancing between brake and throttle pedals. Cool stuff. Between Comfort and Dynamic modes, there is a noticeable difference in the car’s ride quality where Comfort takes the edge off of abrupt impacts and relaxes highway jiggle and business. We’re still acclimating to the logic of Audi’s MMI system, but have, indeed, saved time by literally drawing numbers and letters on this touchpad instead of twist-to-find, push-to-select, and repeat for address input. And those of us with our eye on cellular data appreciate the car’s built-in Wi-Fi for audio streaming services.

We’re really enjoying this, our final version of the A3 line. It’s as if we saved the best for last. All A3s should be S3s.

2016 Audi S3 (Premium Plus)
BASE PRICE $43,425
PRICE AS TESTED $49,950
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
ENGINE 2.0L/292-hp/280-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION 6-speed twin-clutch auto.
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,420 lb (58/42%)
WHEELBASE 103.6 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 175.9 x 77.2 x 54.8 in
0-60 MPH 4.4 sec
QUARTER MILE 13.0 sec @ 105.3 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 109 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.91 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 25.0 sec @ 0.76 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 23/31/26 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 147/109 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.75 lb/mile
TOTAL MILEAGE 2,343 mi
AVERAGE FUEL ECON 24.4 mpg
UNRESOLVED PROBLEM AREAS None