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New 2023 Audi A3 spotted in sporty S3 guise

The Audi S3 hot hatch will receive a mid-life facelift later this year

We’ve caught the updated Audi A3 testing before in saloon form, but now it's the turn of the S3 hot hatch. Despite the usual camouflage, we can clearly see a few of the exterior tweaks Audi has in store for the S3. 

The A3’s long-time rival, the Mercedes A-Class, received a mid-life update in 2022 - which included a refresh of the AMG-developed A 35 and A 45 S models. While Audi is keeping the future of the range-topping RS 3 close to its chest (the RS 3 has just been removed from sale in the UK), the slightly less ballistic S3 model will live on.  

Along with the rejuvenated A-Class hot hatches, the S3’s hot hatch segment recently gained the new Honda Civic Type R and will soon accommodate the facelifted BMW M135i, so there are plenty of rivals out there. Judging by these latest spy shots, the S3 will receive a reshaped front bumper and new grille inserts replacing the honeycomb shaped design of the current car. The headlights also get a new signature, but we expect the customisation LED party piece will remain. 

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While the rear light cluster looks unchanged at first glance, the LED signature has been changed here too with more individual lights. The S3’s trademark quad-exhaust layout will be retained but beneath the camouflage we could see a new rear bumper design.

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These changes echo the ones we’ve seen on the regular facelifted A3 saloon. A new two-dimensional Audi badge will be applied on the grille and we expect to see some more choices of alloy wheels. 

The S3’s powertrain isn’t likely to change with a 2.0-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder sending power to all four wheels. If the RS 3 is to be taken off sale permanently then perhaps this could allow for a bump up in output over the 306bhp and 400Nm of torque the current car produces. 

The exterior changes on this test car aren’t the only amendments Audi could make to the A3 as the model may introduce all-electric versions and SUVs in the near future. 

We’ve already spotted the jacked-up A3 Citycarver testing, which could incorporate the same exterior and interior tweaks as the facelifted A3. The higher-riding Citycarver variant would also sit between the Q2 and Q3 SUVs. 

For the regular A3 it’s likely this facelift is the final internal-combustion powered development of the model, as the firm will launch its final fossil-fuelled cars in Europe in 2025. 

We’ve seen the A3 name use Audi’s e-tron badging before with the previous generation plug-in hybrid model, the next-generation may adopt that nomenclature permanently, becoming a pure-electric hatchback alternative to the Volkswagen ID.3 and Cupra Born.

Now check out the best hatchbacks to buy...

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Senior news reporter

A keen petrol-head, Alastair Crooks has a degree in journalism and worked as a car salesman for a variety of manufacturers before joining Auto Express in Spring 2019 as a Content Editor. Now, as our senior news reporter, his daily duties involve tracking down the latest news and writing reviews.

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