Whether the RS3 counts as a five-door hatchback or a very compact estate car is a moot point, because Audi has never called the extended version of the A3 on which this car is based a proper ‘Avant’ estate.

It has always been a ‘Sportback’, which hints at the compromise between compactness and practicality that goes with the packaging of this junior RS. The important thing is that it looks potent yet understated, blending the potential for battering the senses with a degree of practical sense.

RS3 Sportback's engine is mounted transversely under the bonnet

But there's plenty to distinguish the RS3 from the standard A3. A bespoke, deeper front apron incorporates large air intakes is the most obvious. Look a little closer, and there's a single-frame grill with diamond patterned styling. 

Alloys are fitted as standard, naturally, and in this case they measure 19 inches. Unusually, the tyres are wider on the front - 235/35 - than the 225/35s on the rear. Side skirts unique to the RS3 and a roof spoiler add a little more sporty drama. RS's signature matt silver door mirror cappings are fitted too.

Audi boasts an unlimited selection of custom paint finishes too, but virtually all examples we've seen are in standard red, blue, silver or black finishes.

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