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    We get to grips with Awesome’s latest project car, a booted Audi S3 that punches well above its weight and has the bite to match its monster bark... Awesome's 500bhp, Stage 3 S3 saloon is unleashed...
    S3 SALOON Awesome’s APR-tuned demo car.
    Words Jamie Arkle. Photography Paul Cowland.

    Automotive fashion is a funny and complex thing, and it often seems that there’s little logic in what is and isn’t cool. Want an example of this in action? Well how about the small, hatchback based saloon, a sector of the UK car market that’s recently enjoyed something of a resurgence, yet for many, many years has been in the doldrums. Utter the phrase ‘small saloon’ to folk of a certain age and the cars they’ll almost certainly call to mind could hardly be called automotive greats: the Ford Orion and the Vauxhall Belmont – not exactly a stellar lineup, we’re sure you’ll agree!

    So what’s brought about this sea change, this upswing in popularity? Well, we think credit should lie squarely with Audi, specifically the team that signed off the latest S3 saloon. We think even Audi itself could’ve been forgiven for being ever so slightly taken aback by the overwhelmingly positive reception this variant has had, and there’s little doubt that it’s set to be a fixture of the tuning scene for years to come, particularly if the guys at Awesome have anything to do with it.

    Awesome has been responsible for some of the most notable tuned VW Group cars in recent years, so when the Manchester based VAG gurus selected the new S3 saloon as the basis of their next demo car, well, we knew that the resulting car would be seriously special.

    “There were a number of cars under consideration when we opted to take on the S3,” recalls Mark Ash, Awesome’s Director “but I spotted one at APR at the start of 2016 and instantly fell in love with it, with the colour and the graphics pack. The decision as to which car we’d buy was made there and then.”

    Now it might sound like building a demo car is the simplest thing in the world, particularly for a VW Group specialist like Awesome with access to a wealth of aftermarket parts, but this isn’t strictly true. Granted, having ready access to big brake and coilover kits (more on those later) certainly speeds up the build process, but then that’s just the easy bit. No, for a company’s personal car to really earn its keep it needs to push boundaries in terms of tuning – and boy does Awesome’s S3 deliver in this respect. The team started off by buying a brand new S3 and wasted no time in getting back in touch with APR, a firm that Awesome actually beta test for, and a well known and trusted name within the scene.

    “This build was never about squeezing every last bit of power from the car as that would’ve made it too extreme, too focused and a far less enjoyable prospect to drive on the road,” explains Mark. “A big part of what we do at Awesome is carrying out balanced, considered tuning, providing kits that up the power and increase the performance in every aspect, yet don’t overly compromise the car in question.”

    See what we mean when we said demo car building is trickier than it sounds? The call to APR meant that it wasn’t long before one of its all new, Stage 3 tuning kits for the 2.0 TFSI was winging its way across the Atlantic to Manchester, a kit that’s since gone on to play a defining role in this particular S3. The kit includes a number of highly developed components, including a Stage 3 s-tronic tune, ECU tune, cast downpipe, carbon intake tract, front mounted intercooler with silicone hoses, fuel pump, and EFR7163 turbo system.

    Factor in the other supporting hardware that’s essential for an advanced build of this nature, namely the resonated exhaust from Milltek, and it becomes all too clear why the close working relationship between APR and Awesome has proved so valuable.

    “There were some niggles involved in the development of the kit, true, but nothing more than you’d expect of an advanced package of modifications like this,” Mark explains. “Again, that’s another key aspect of a car like this – we’d much rather bits went wrong during the development process.”

    The upshot of all this work and an in-depth development phase? A kit that’s been proven to boost the power generated by the EA888 to approximately 500bhp, a massive jump from the stock figure of 300bhp and enough to enable this diminutive saloon to see off any hot hatch you care to mention. It’s true what they say, power really is nothing without control – yes it’s a cliché, but then cliches have a habit of ringing true most of the time. Of course performance Audis and their iconic four-wheel drive drivetrains have always been well equipped in this respect, but that hasn’t prevented the team at Awesome from raiding their parts stash for a selection of uprated transmission goodies, namely a pair of uprated DQ250 DSG clutches. These are essential for enabling the S3 to ladle out its new found power to all four wheels in as even manner as possible, plus the OE hardware would no doubt have started to show the strain after a few hundred miles if left in situ.

    The S3’s chassis has also been given an overhaul, the stock suspension, wheels and brakes all having made way for far more capable aftermarket offerings from Racingline, Neuspeed and Vagbremtechnic respectively. The front brake kit in question features a pair of massive 8-piston Brembo calipers originally intended for the Audi R8/Lamborghini Gallardo (winning all potential pub boasts at a stroke), and was selected thanks to its relatively lightweight, capability and piston layout; all highly significant considerations on a 500bhp saloon like this. These now house Project Mu H16-03 brake pads, the firm’s competition grade offering and one known for its resistance to fade, high initial ‘bite’ and fantastic release characteristics.

    While hardly heavy, the OEM alloys were dumped in favour of a featherweight offering from Neuspeed, the RSE10. Not only do these look right at home peeking out from beneath the S3’s arches, they also tip the scales at just 21.5lb each, and therefore represent a significant reduction in unsprung weight – a true win-win scenario.

    It’s fitting that we conclude this feature by discussing how this particular S3 looks, and that’s best summed up in one word – aggressive. Imagine a pit bull chewing up a wasp while being goaded by an especially foolhardy postman, and you’re still only halfway there! Audi has to take some of the credit for this of course, but it’s hard to deny that the styling work put in by the boys from Awesome has helped lift its looks far and above those of the standard car.

    “The graphics package found on the original #APR car provided a lot of inspiration, but the livery our car now has is subtly different to APR’s, so it’s more of a homage.”

    The livery means that this car can’t help but stand out wherever it goes, but we’re particularly fond of the more subtle additions Awesome has seen to factor in, like the splitter, diffuser, rear spoiler and door mirrors, all constructed from high grade carbon fibre.

    So, what’s next? Well the life of a demo car is a hard one, so expect the S3 to be put to work drumming up support for the Stage 3 package (and much else) it now boasts, and there’s no denying that it represents the a great means of extracting massive power from #MQB platform cars with E888 engines. It means that though it might currently So there are almost certainly going to be further developments in the coming weeks and months – watch this space!

    TECHNICAL DATA SPECIFICATION #2017 / #Audi-S3-Saloon / #Audi-S3 / #Audi / #Audi-EA888 / #Audi-S3-Saloon-ARP / #Audi-S3-8V #Audi-A3-8V / #Audi-8V / #Audi-A3 / #Audi-S3-Saloon-8V / #Audi-S3-Saloon-ARP-8V / #Audi-S3-Typ-8V / #Audi-A3-Typ-8V / #Audi-A3-Typ-8V / #Audi-S3-Saloon-Typ-8V

    Engine 2.0 #EA888 Gen 3 DOHC I4 16v, #APR-Stage-3 tuning package comprising #EFR7163 twin scroll turbocharger, APR Stage 3 #DSG tune, #APR-Stage-3-ECU tune, #APR Stage 3 cast downpipe, APR carbon intake system, APR Front Mount intercooler with APR silicone charge hoses, APR low pressure fuel pump, resonated Milltek downpipe-back exhaust system with active valves

    Transmission OEM Audi four-wheel drive system with front and rear differentials, #APR-DQ250 / #DSG clutches

    Chassis #Racingline coil springs and stock dampers, #Vagbremtechnic front brake kit comprising #Brembo 8 piston calipers, 32x362mm two-piece discs and Project Mu H16-03 competition grade pads, 19x8.5in Neuspeed RSE10 wheels in satin gunmetal with ET45 offset

    Interior Complete OEM Audi S3 interior

    Exterior 2015 Audi S3 saloon in Misano red, carbon fibre front splitter, carbon fibre rear diffuser, carbon fibre door mirror covers and carbon fibre boot spoiler

    Call: 0161 776 0777

    Top: It’s a real head turner out on the road.
    Above: Interior is nicely finished as standard.
    Left: 19in Neuspeed wheel and Vagbremtechnic brakes.
    Left: Shot inside Awesome’s HQ.
    Below: Tasty carbon trim.

    The APR turbocharger system

    The twin-scroll EFR7163 turbo forms a key part of the Stage 3 kit, so it’s well worth taking a closer look at its capabilities. APR has extracted as much as 520bhp from #MQB cars fitted with this kit and has seen 10-second quarter-mile times, yet this hasn’t come at the expense of everyday drivability. Indeed, cars fitted with this turbo setup have been shown to retain OEM-levels of lag, while at the same time being devoid of the compromises many would expect of an engine of this size and with this state of tune.

    “...increase the performance in every aspect ”

    “I spotted one at APR and instantly fell in love with it”
    • All mapped out. Interesting to read about the APR guys coming over from the US to map cars in the UK. I didn’t realise they made such an effort to ensAll mapped out. Interesting to read about the APR guys coming over from the US to map cars in the UK. I didn’t realise they made such an effort to ensure their software works exactly as is says, no matter where in the world the customer happens to live. Awesome’s Stage 3 S3 looks like a bit of a monster too – I’ve seen a couple of videos on Facebook where it looks properly quick. Do you plan to test this? Give me a call if you do – I’d love to ride shotgun!  More ...
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    Notching it up! / #Audi-S3-Saloon / #Audi-S3 / #Audi-A3-Saloon / #Audi-S3-Sedan-8V / #Audi-A3-Saloon-8V / #Audi-A3-8V / #Audi-S3-8V / #Audi-S3-Typ-8V / #Audi-A3-Typ-8V / #Audi-A3-8V / #Audi-S3-Saloon-Typ-8V / #Audi

    Our first drive of the highperformance #Audi-S3-Saloon on British roads proves its prodigious performance and handling, but also its tractability and practicality…

    Alongside the UK press launch of the new A3 Cabriolet, featured previously in these pages, we were also able to reacquaint ourselves with the very different dynamic ability of the new S3. Ironically, it was the Saloon version that we drove in the Spring sunshine of the New Forest while, only 24 hours later, we found ourselves cruising the Cabriolet S3 in the snowy wilderness of Sweden, but that’s another story…

    While the mostly narrow and winding country roads of southern Hampshire were perfect for piloting the A3 Cabriolet around in the sunshine, they hardly provided the ideal environment to fully explore the considerable capabilities of the high-performance S3. Indeed, opening it up on one rare occasion, on a particularly long clear traffic-free stretch, soon saw the speedo hurtling past the legal limit towards three-figure speeds before we reined it in.

    Hardly surprising, with more than twice the power of the 1.4 TFSI Cabriolet; propelled by the latest 300 PS version of the 2.0-litre turbocharged 16-valve four-cylinder TFSI engine, shared with Volkswagen’s new Golf R, the S3 clearly has the potential for prodigious performance. With the 6-speed twin-clutch S tronic auto transmission it is claimed to be capable of accelerating from 0-62 mph in just 4.9 seconds, with the 6-speed manual version only slightly slower at 5.3 seconds. The top speed of both is electronically limited to 155 mph. More relevant, though, is that the S3’s maximum power is developed at a modest 5500 rpm and holds up until 6200 rpm. Combined with considerable torque of 380 Nm between 1800 and 5500 rpm the power delivery is both broad and muscular, with no hint of lag, providing ready response throughout the rev range and pulling smoothly and strongly right up to the redline and just beyond. Needless to say, making a quick overtaking manoeuvre, or accelerating up to the speed of the traffic flow on the fast-moving A31 from virtual standstill on a short slip road was no problem at all.

    But while the local roads didn’t lend themselves to exploiting the full performance, they did highlight the S3’s flexibility, able to cruise comfortably along and pull away cleanly from relatively low speeds. Aided by features such as cruise control, energy recuperation and stop/start, that sort of tractability is also a recipe for good fuel efficiency. Audi claims a combined economy figure of 40.4 for the manual and 40.9 mpg for the S tronic which also coasts when the driver lifts off the throttle, when running in the efficiency mode in the Drive Select menu. Needless to say, we didn’t see those sort of numbers on the trip computer, but figures in the top twenties were very welcome considering the type of predominantly point and squirt driving.

    Fitted with 19-inch 5-twin-spoke Star alloys as standard, shod with 235/35 R19 Dunlop Sport Maxx on the cars we drove, the S3’s handling on lowered sports suspension (–25 mm) is very sharp and precise. With magnetic ride dampers as standard-fit, it can also be stiffened up further if required by switching Drive Select into the Sport mode. While this provides almost race car like handling on smooth main roads, hooking around roundabouts like a go-kart, we found this setting a bit too stiff and lively on some of the bumpy, choppy back roads.

    On the other hand, switching into Comfort mode also makes the steering feel far too loose for the kind of control you need when threading the S3 down narrow lanes. The answer is the Individual setting where you can mix and match the different parameters; with the suspension set on Comfort to soak up the undulations and the steering on Sport to add reassuring weight, the S3 simply flowed through the switchbacks, providing a real rollercoaster of a ride, both comfortable and controlled.

    Traction and braking are the S3’s other great fortés, with the latest generation of the electronically-controlled Haldex coupling four-wheel drive system shuffling power from front to rear and enabling the S3 to accelerate hard out of tight corners and to launch off the loose surface of a layby without wheelspin. With the traction and handling further enhanced by the torque vectoring via the ESC system, it provides very neutral, well balanced and agile handling, with barely a hint of understeer.

    The S3 was also very stable and controlled under braking for the tight bends and steep descents, the powerful 340 mm front and 310 mm rear vented discs, with big black S3-logo’d front callipers, more than up to the task of pulling up promptly without being snatchy at low speeds when crawling in heavy traffic.

    Considered overall, the S3 is the perfect all-rounder – capable of very high performance and almost race car like handling when driven in full Sport mode, but also civilised, tractable, economical and comfortable enough to serve as a full five-seater four-door family saloon. Indeed, the boot volume is actually larger than the load bay of the tailgated cars, with its capacity of 425 litres capable of absorbing 45 litres more luggage than the Sportback, and this can be increased still further by folding the split-folding rear seat backs forward. The boot lid also comes with remote-control opening from the key fob.

    Particularly so perhaps with the Glacier white car we tested, the S3 has an ambivalent dynamic identity that is fully reflected in its appearance, with just the right balance of aggressive styling and mature understatement.

    As well as the discreet S3 badges at front and rear, special distinguishing features are a front bumper with larger air intakes, the single-frame grille in platinum grey with horizontal twin chrome bars, Xenon plus headlights, LED running lights, mirror housings finished in matt aluminium, sill trims, a rear diffuser with two oval chrome tailpipes on each side, and the integrated boot-lid spoiler. Inside, aluminium sill trims and brushed matt aluminium inlays for the interior trim help set off the predominantly black interior with its embossed Fine Nappa leather heated front sports seats and flatbottomed three-spoke multifunction sports steering wheel.

    Priced at £33,240 for the manual and £34,720 for the S tronic model, the real cost equation will depend on how far you delve into the options list, with features like the MMI Navigation Plus, lane assist and a Bang & Olufsen 14-speaker surround sound system available to tot up the bill. Indeed, the 6-speed manual test car we drove was worth nearly £40,000 by the time you’d totted up all the options fitted, including the metallic paint at £525, Technology package £1795, panoramic sunroof at £950, Bang & Olufsen sound system at £750 and various other upgrades…

    Based on our experience of it so far, the S3 Saloon is a perfectly sensible and practical stylish four-door with a capacious boot, capable of potent performance and excellent driving dynamics along with reasonable fuel economy, but it will be interesting to see whether it can make its mark in a British market which traditionally tends to favour the tailgated cars. Ironically, though, its main sibling rival here in the UK may well be the forthcoming S3 Cabriolet, more of which in due course. We’ll be carrying out a comprehensive road test of the S3 Saloon shortly, for a full feature in Audi Driver.

    ‘The S3 Saloon is a perfectly sensible and practical stylish four-door with a capacious boot, capable of potent performance and excellent driving dynamics along with reasonable fuel economy...’

    The power delivery is both broad and muscular, with no hint of lag, providing ready response throughout the rev range...’

    Performance Notching it up – The S3 Saloon

    0-62 mph Top speed Combined economy CO2 emissions
    S3 Saloon 6-speed manual 5.3 sec 155 mph* 40.4mpg 162 g/km
    S3 Saloon 6-speed S tronic 4.9 sec 155 mph* 40.9 mpg 159 g/km
    * Top speed electronically limited

    S3 Saloon 2.0 TFSI 300 PS 6-speed manual £33,240
    S3 Saloon 2.0 TFSI 300 PS 6-speed S tronic £34,720
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