What is it?
There weren’t many bonafide fans of the previous RS3 in the Autocar office, and you’d struggle to find anyone who thought the car justified its prodigious price tag. Audi sold them nevertheless, and the early word on the new model - delivered by a passenger-seated Matt Prior - is that quattro GmbH hasn’t proven entirely deaf to the initial criticisms.
Subsequently, as we approach the car’s official launch date, that ride-along has morphed into an early Finland-based squirt around Audi’s winter proving ground. The bullet points remain the same: this is a modestly lighter, cleverer and faster brand of RS3, albeit still exclusively (for now) in the Sportback mould.
Responsibility for each of these things lies, respectively, in the MQB platform (a 55kg saving), new RS-applied software that enables 100 per cent of available torque to be dispatched to the reaer wheels, and an overhauled turbocharger and intercooler on the in line five-cylinder petrol engine, the latter permitting a dialing up of the boost pressure.
As a result, total output is now up to 362bhp, and there’s 343lb ft from 1625rpm. Slightly less heady, although no less pertinent, is the news that, thanks to a number of detail changes, the motor is now Euro 6 compliant and might just potentially be good for 34.8mpg. That figure was impossible to verify in Finland, of course, along with all manner of other things.