First Drive: 2015 Audi S3 Sedan

Filed under: Sedan, Performance, Audi, First Drives, Luxury

2015 Audi S3 Sedan

For the last few years, Audi has been publicly toying with building a successor to its Ur-Quattro, a model still glowing in a gritty patina of motorsports glory decades after it left the scene. If anything, the rally car’s halo has burned brighter as Audi has matured into a world luxury superpower. Since 2010, the German automaker has shown two different concept cars that attempted to re-bottle the legend’s lightning, and it’s still trying to figure out whether to market a production model. Despite that conundrum (and not to take anything away from the seminal Ur-Quattro), it’s easy to argue that there are two other cars much more important to Audi’s rise from its ’80s ashes: the original TT and the B5-generation A4 and its high-performance variants.

The TT thrust Audi into the vanguard of automotive styling while firmly establishing the Volkswagen Group as masters of platform development (the same basic architecture and powertrain guts were employed in a dizzying array of models, from the Golf, Jetta and New Beetle to a number of Škoda products). This unprecedented, flexible building-block approach to new model development has since become the standard of the industry.

In the case of its B5 cars, the A4, S4 and RS4 put Audi back on the radar of rival German automakers, and more importantly, they grew the Four Rings’ sales by leaps and bounds while reminding the world that all-wheel drive needn’t only benefit hardcore performance cars and utility vehicles. Fast-forward to today, and the A4 has established itself as the bedrock of Audi’s lineup, but it’s also grown over its four generations to become substantially larger, heavier and costlier than the model that debuted back in 1996 America. That’s created a vacuum at the bottom of the range that the company has inadequately addressed – until now.

Audi’s latest A3 generation first debuted in hatchback form at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, but in a sign of our North American market’s growing importance to the brand, Audi commissioned its first A3 sedan and released it at the New York Auto Show in March along with the 2015 S3 Sedan seen here. We still have yet to drive the bog-standard A3 saloon, but that’s fine by us, as Audi just flipped us the keys to its higher-performance variant, the S3, on the seaside mountain roads of Monaco.

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2015 Audi S3 Sedan originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 12 Nov 2013 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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