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.


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.


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.


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.


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.