While 306bhp might sound like a lot of power, it’s the masses of torque available from as little as 1800rpm that you notice more on the road. It doesn’t really matter what gear you’re in, the S3 picks up speed very briskly indeed.
That’s not to say it isn’t worth revving the engine, as it pulls strongly to 6500rpm and makes a pretty decent noise at the same time. Flat out, the automatic hatchback is capable of dipping below five seconds on the 0-62mph run. Even the significantly heavier cabriolet dips below 5.5sec, while all variants are limited to 155mph.
The handling is also seriously impressive. The steering may not have masses of feedback, but it’s precise and well weighted in normal mode. Ramp it up to dynamic, however, and it gets a bit too heavy without delivering any more feel.
Adjustable dampers are optional, but even the standard items strike a good balance between comfort and handling. The ride is firm at low speed but, as this is a performance car, we’d say it’s perfectly acceptable.
While channelling all that grunt to the road could be a recipe for disaster, standard fit quattro four-wheel drive means you can use all of the power even if it’s wet. The only trouble is that sometimes it feels almost too competent; the S3 isn’t as exciting or adjustable as a Ford Focus RS, for example. The convertible feels even more numb; the price you pay for removing the roof.