The RS3 is the latest in a long line of Audis offering huge performance in ostensibly family-oriented models. Back in 1994, Audi launched a compact but very special estate car to the world. The RS2 Avant was the first Audi to wear the ‘Renn Sport’ badge.

Built by Porsche, under the same roof as the 959 supercar and Mercedes-Benz’s 500E super-saloon, it was one of the first performance wagons in the world.

Associate editor
Audi's single-framed grille gets an anthracite finish for the RS3 Sportback

Maybe it’s due to a lack of opportunity, or out of deference to the RS line’s founding father, but Audi has never built another car quite like the RS2.

The first RS4, a car of similar size, was disappointing; the second was available only as a saloon. Now, seemingly almost by accident – because it's a farewell to the humble A3, a car which has rarely excited keen drivers – Audi performance arm Quattro GmbH has developed a fast, compact pseudo-estate with unmissable similarities to the Audi that Porsche built.

There is less than 25bhp and 50kg of kerb weight separating the new RS3 Sportback and that RS2 Avant, yet Audi doesn’t mention the legendary old-timer once in the RS3’s marketing blurb. Which prompts the question: is this new car of insufficient calibre to deserve a mention on the same bill?