Going fast has never been easier or as affordable- the new Audi RS3 car perhaps being the perfect illustration. It costs from £39,995, will outrun a Lamborghini Gallardo, return 35mpg but is no more difficult to operate than a dishwasher.

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What make the RS3 one of the most powerful and intoxicating hot hatchbacks on sale is its 362bhp 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine and four-wheel drive system. An F1-inspired launch control system rockets the Audi from 0-62mph in 4.3 seconds and onto a license losing speed of 174mph if you’re feeling brave enough.

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Those are some mightily impressive numbers for something that can also seat five adults in relative comfort and swallow a decent amount of luggage. The Mercedes-AMG A45 is the Audi’s chief rival and is a fraction more powerful developing 376bhp, but it uses a less tuneful 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo and lacks the opulent interior of the Audi.

Lashing of leather, aluminium and carbon fibre cover all visible surfaces, giving the Audi the feel of a boutique hotel room. Thumb the starter button and the five-cylinder engine fires into life with bark and settles into deep, snarling burble.

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The crescendo of noise from the two fat oval tailpipes is what you notice first, then comes the relentless speed. Huge reserves of torque – 465Nm – means relentless acceleration and the four-wheel drive system means none of the power dissipates into plumes of tyre smoke.

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Fast it may be, but it’s not overly exciting to drive. The RS3 is a point and squirt machine: great on the long straight bits but not so thrilling in the corners. The Audi has a weight problem, which blunts its responses and can make it feel a numb when you find yourself on some winding country roads.

But to look at, listen to and live with, the Audi is a beautifully crafted piece of kit. We just wish a little more thought went into how it feels on the road.

audi.co.uk