Two years ago, we rated the pre-facelifted Audi RS3 Sportback with four road test stars and placed it, warts and all, among the most exciting hot hatchbacks on the road.

Today, the RS3 Saloon deserves at least the same kind of recommendation.

Phenomenal powertrain does much to make up for dynamic flaws

The competition in the £45,000 sports saloon segment gives the Audi a higher bar to aim at on handling appeal, granted.

And, as in 2015, the RS3 relies disproportionately on the all-pervasive impact of its five-cylinder engine to cover for deficiencies in driver appeal elsewhere.

If this Audi were a young footballer, he’d have a hammer of a shot but you’d worry about the wider development of his game. To keep up with the pace of progress shown lately in this arena, the RS3’s dynamic game definitely needs to develop.

And yet such is the dramatically sonorous, hilariously visceral performance character and thrill generated by Audi’s five-cylinder headline act here that we simply have to recognise what is still an amazing driver’s car in spite of its failings.

Here’s hoping there’s time for it to become greater still. But for the time being its got the legs on the Alfa Romeo Guilia Veloce and BMW 340i, but lags behind the Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 and the impressive Jaguar XE S.

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