With its premium looks, premium interior and blistering pace you’ll have no trouble justifying the near-£35,000 price-tag for the Audi S3 Saloon. There are other choices out there, though, and while the S3 leads the way for all-round ability, the BMW M235i is on top for outright driving fun and the Mercedes CLA 45 AMG is king of straight-line speed. Further boosting the Audi’s credentials is the fact that it costs cheaper than the both of them.

Audi’s model offensive shows no signs of slowing down, as not only has it introduced a saloon version of the A3, but now it’s also introduced a hot S3 Saloon to the UK.

If you’re unfamiliar with the set-up, it’s the same one found in the S3 hatch and S3 Sportback – that means a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine producing 296bhp paired up with four-wheel drive and the option of a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox or a six-speed manual. 

Audi S3 Saloon: performance

Our car has got the dual-clutch, which makes a car with bonkers performance even faster still. The 0-62mph time stands at 4.9 seconds, and the way the four-wheel-drive system instantly hooks up whenever you floor the throttle never fails to surprise you. There’s a great noise from the exhausts and a bark on every full-throttle upshift, too.

For all its aggressive acceleration the S3 Saloon can play the everyday car, with this gearbox shifting up quickly through the gears to keep revs and fuel consumption low. Ask for a bit of acceleration, though, and S3 will quickly shift down a gear or two and the engines reserves of torque will be enough to have you surging forwards.

When it comes to tackling corners, the S3 Saloon demonstrates a seriously impressive amount of traction and unflappable grip. You can step on the brakes, floor the throttle or yank the steering wheel mid-corner and S3 refuses to be undone. In that sense, it’s extremely easy to drive it quickly but it ultimately lacks the finesse you get with something like a BMW M235i. The steering is nowhere near as communicative as the BMW, either.

During normal driving it’s not too uncomfortable over bumpy roads. You’ll have to admit that it’s firm, you can feel small bumps transmitted right up in to the cabin but you’re never left wincing after hitting a pothole. 

While £34,720 sounds like a lot of money for a car related to the A3, the S3 Saloon feels worth every penny from behind the wheel. The high-quality cabin is full of excellent little touches and the S3 comes with some extra additions like sports seats and a flat-bottomed steering wheel. There’s just enough room in the back seats for adults, too, and a pretty generous boot. 

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