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And the Audi S3 just got even better at what it does. There wasn’t a lot you could reasonably argue with before, but the mid-cycle facelift for 2017 has improved the car in a lot of incremental areas that go beyond the addition of the Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster. Audi will point to the upgraded EA888 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine as the key to the change, but it will be wrong. Sure, adding 11 more horses to give it 306 horsepower and another 15 lb-ft of torque to deliver 295 lb-ft doesn’t hurt, but it’s not the core of the argument.
For all that, nobody meanders into an Audi dealership and buys an S3 for its software. They’re there in large part for the engine. The long-stroke 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder uses turbocharging and both direct and port fuel injection to deliver a flat and flexible output curve, with all 295 lb-ft of torque available from just 2000 rpm and sticking around until 5400. It’s no coincidence that the power peak arrives just 100 rpm after the torque finally falls off its peak. Power stays at its 306-hp apex until 6500 rpm, and the engine revs to 7000 rpm quite cheerfully. While this car isn’t light—figure on about 3300 pounds—it is quick; we tested the pre-refresh S3 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and predict the updated car will do about the same.