2017 Audi S3 First Drive: Killer tech improves a sound driving machine

– Durham, North Carolina

North Carolina may be tagged as a “battleground” right now, but it’s still The South, meaning, at least from an outsider’s perspective, it’s awful friendly. I spent three days in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area that’s nicknamed “The Triangle,” getting labeled as “honey” and “baby” just about everywhere I stopped to chat. In Michigan, conversely, “dude” is about a familiar as it gets... Even my wife (as Yankee a Mainer as you’ll find) calls me “Joe” as a loving, not lovey, pet name. It’s just darn neighborly down south.

The vibe was strangely appropriate for the launch of Audi’s redesigned S3 sport compact, which has turned into a downright genial space in which to carve up curvy roads.

You’d have to be an Audi enthusiast to know for certain that the 2017 formulation of this car is significantly different than the outgoing machine, which is only a couple of years old in the U.S. market. Typical facelift-style changes were made to the exterior, meaning a new grille and front fascia, a slightly different shape to the headlights, and revised LED lighting front and rear. The S3 gets a signature wheel, 18 inches in diameter with a 5-spoke design, that further sets it apart from the base A3.

2017 Audi S3: First Drive
2017 Audi S3: First Drive

Power levels have stayed steady here, but the truth is a bonus five or ten horsepower wouldn’t have transformed what is already a rapid machine.

I found the car quite attractive in an understated way; less than obvious in terms of performance intentions, but st...