It is a curious state of affairs, but one that has existed for so long it can no longer be considered a matter of luck or coincidence. Yet again Audi has taken over the essential mechanical specification of a Volkswagen and made it worse. It can’t be true, but it’s beginning to look like policy.
This new Audi S3 sits on the same platform, uses the same engine, gearbox and suspension architecture as the VW Golf R. To be fair, the latest Golf R has yet to make it to the UK but compared to the previous car the S3 has the same punchy performance and slick seven-speed double-clutch gearbox. So far so good.
But the chassis feels wooden. It does what’s required of it, offering copious amounts of grip and accurate steering, but this is colour-by-numbers handling with no sense of enthusiasm for the job. There’s not much information fed back from the road surface and while you can kill its inherent desire to understeer with a sharp lift of the throttle, it lacks that gorgeous ability to flow from apex to apex that made the Golf R so enjoyable to drive. And as if that weren’t enough, the ride quality isn’t up to much either.