The primary difference between the latest RS3 and its predecessor is not the fettling of many of its major mechanicals but rather the platform that supports them.
Despite not appearing dramatically different – the previous version was also sold exclusively as a five-door Sportback – the old car was based on the PQ35 architecture that the Volkswagen Group had employed since 2003. The new version, like its A3 stablemates, gets the much cleverer modular MQB underpinnings and all the benefits that go with that.
Pertinent to the RS3 specifically are gains in rigidity and lightness. The 55kg saving in kerb weight is mostly because of the platform change. But the model is also a little roomier than before, prettier inside (we’ll come to that) and modestly better looking thanks to a sharper scowl.
The differentiation from standard is marked by the usual RS affectations: gloss black grille, standard LED headlights, 19in wheels, roof spoiler, flared arches that house the car’s wider track and tyres, and a Chunnel-sized exhaust pipe at each rear corner. These are connected to much the same turbocharged 2.5-litre engine as before – previously the sole reason for considering the RS3 over its rivals.