For any new Audi S3, the judging criteria is well-defined. Too raw and involving and you invite accusations of being unfit for purpose, of lacking the day-in, day-out approachability owners will pay for. Equally, if the car is too relaxing and aloof, we’d not hesitate to call that out as an undesirable trait. The S moniker must stand for something. An S3 should therefore offer a good level of engagement but never forget its manners or true calling: a firm sense of security underwheel, whatever the weather.

This latest iteration certainly hits its target it terms of composure. It grips the road superbly well, understeers less markedly than before, and inculcates an enjoyable sense of confidence in the driver. The S3 is easy and quietly enjoyable to guide along almost any road, whether or not you choose to unfurl its wicked turn of pace.

Audi delivers an effective if somewhat unlovable hot hatch

Our concerns are twofold. Ride quality is simply not good enough on the standard passive dampers and the interior lacks the cosseting, high-quality feel of bygone Audi hot hatches. For rivals, these would be notable flaws, but for an S3 they feel especially conspicuous. In truth, it feels like the forgotten hot hatch of the Volkswagen Group.

What Car? New car buyer marketplace - Audi S3