This sexy, hot-blooded sedan is undoubtedly the most exhilarating car I have driven for a long time and not only because it out-paces its direct competitors but because it also ticks so many other boxes.
Starting with its looks, the compact four-seater proudly flaunts its naughty nature with a low, stalking profile, ominous black honeycomb grille housing the RS3 badge, huge alloys wheels wrapped in low-profile rubber, quattro tattoo, gaping air inlets and matte aluminium side mirrors.
At the rear, the RS3 Sedan flexes its muscles with a distinctive diffuser insert, bazooka-like tailpipes, distinctive RS roof edge spoiler and RS-specific spoiler lip on the trunk lid.
The dark-toned living quarters are equally sporty, particularly when fitted with optional extra RS sport seats with sharply contoured side bolsters and integrated head restraints. The small, flat-bottomed steering wheel with finger-tip flappies for rapid gear shifts and the racing style metal pedals further add to the little beauty’s appeal.
I can rabbit on forever about the bells and whistles niceties of this little four-ringer but let’s get to the heart of the matter – the transversely-mounted 2.5TFSI five-cylinder power factory tucked away under its stubby bonnet which has won the International Engine of the Year in its class for seven consecutive years.
This is the most powerful series-production five-cylinder engine on the world market, blasting out 294kW and a mighty 480Nm which is hefty enough to officially rocket this RS3 from zero to 100km/h in 4.1 seconds (with at least one leading motoring magazine’s testers recording a sub-four second time).
Fire up the five-pot and the roar and crackle from the exhaust is gooseflesh inducing, particularly if the driver clicks the drive system into Dynamic mode… loud enough to waken the neighbours a few streets away. (It won’t be difficult to guess which mode the test car was in most of the time during the four days we spent together).
But go is no good if it doesn’t come with cling and in this department this RS3 scores another gold star because the quattro permanent all-wheel drive combines gripping dynamism with amazing stability. The system also cleverly directs driver force to the rear wheels during “sporty” cornering without impeding progress.
This Audi has a further rich vault of assistants over and above Quattro drive but they are too many and too technical to discuss in this article.
To summarise: the new RS3 goes like the clappers and it eats the most challenging of corners for breakfast. The steering is direct, the transmission feels as though it invented the word slick and there are many other lovely things such as a superb (although it was an expensive optional extra) 705 watt, 14 loudspeaker Bang and Olufsen sound system (which I only used when Her Majesty occupied the front passenger seat), a hyper-intelligent smartphone interface, a user-friendly MMI navigation setup and the cherry on top - the most wonderful exhaust symphony I have had the pleasure to listen to this year!
However, no car is perfect, and the ride over rough surfaces can be terribly thumpy and bumpy, but then fairness, its suspension was designed for dynamic handling not for Sunday afternoon drives with granny.
The rear passenger space is not generous and the boot is adequate but will probably not be big enough for family holiday luggage.
But all of this pales when you weigh it up against the delightfully naughty nature and sheer driving pleasure the RS3 serves up by the ton.
Take a bow you little beauty, you deserve the 2017 crown!