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Audi S3 stays sleek, powerful
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Audi S3 stays sleek, powerful

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Audi leads its sporty 4-door product line with the sleek design of their compact 2017 S3 Sedan.

Flowing contours suit S3’s youthful styling with windswept bodywork, tight wheel arches and low profile roofline for looks that appeal to a new generation of family sedan buyers.

Audi S3 brings fun back to driving with a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that spools 292 horsepower paired to a 6-speed S-tronic transmission.

The S-tronic is fully automatic or operated using a dual-clutch system that offers steering wheel–mounted paddle shifters for driver-directed manual gear selection.

Audi S3’s dual-clutch affords handfuls of turbo torque for spirited acceleration that steps in at 2300 engine revolutions per minute.

Power is delivered to the pavement with 18-inch wheels managed by S3’s standard quattro all-wheel drive.

I tested the Audi S3 Sedan on 23 miles of southwest desert S-curve pavement where carving corners requires both hands on the wheel to showcase the active front strut suspension and four-link torsion-beam rear end.

S3’s road hugging stance is courtesy of chassis springs that squat the car’s posture about one inch lower than its Audi A3 Sedan stable mate.

The taut springs are far less forgiving than the stock A3, resulting in firm ride quality across coarse blacktop surfaces. Optional 19-inch summer tires also create road noise that filters into the cabin.

Another rub is S3’s back seat knee and legroom. Driver and front passenger have to volunteer a portion of their forward seat travel to accommodate legroom for two adult riders in the aft cabin.

However, young families will find the rear bench ideal for a pair of child seats or trio of youngster booster seats without compromising front seat legroom.

Base cost for the 2017 Audi S3 Sedan is $42,900 before freight.

Up-size space

Families in need of more room can turn to the 2017 Audi Q7 SUV with standard three row seven-passenger capacity.

The midsize Q7 comes equipped with all-wheel drive. Premium ($49,000) and Premium Plus ($53,000) is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine for 252 horsepower.

A supercharged 3.0L V6 with 333-hp is standard on Prestige ($64,300) and available on Premium models. Towing capability reaches 7,700 pounds.

Audi Q7’s flat load floor carries 14.8 to 71.6 cubic-feet of cargo capacity.

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