What is it?
This is the new Audi S3 saloon, the hottest and thus far most desirable incarnation of the A3 saloon, itself a recent addition to Audi's compact premium line-up, and one that's hoped to steal extra sales in the ever-more important but hatchback-phobic Chinese and US markets.
This subtly muscular-looking performance version of the four-door is powered by a 296bhp, 280lb ft, 1984cc four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine driving through all four wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox or, as driven here, a six-speed S-tronic dual-clutch automatic.
The S3 saloon gets one of Audi’s smartly appointed premium-identikit interiors, finished to S-series spec with firm, sportily supportive seats in the front and compact accommodation for three (at a push) in the rear. There’s a good old-fashioned saloon boot, too, with 390 litres of luggage capacity.
Audi claims a 0-62mph time of 4.9sec for the 1525kg S3 saloon in S-tronic gearbox guise (it’s 5.3sec in 1505kg manual form), with a limited top speed of 155mph.
And should a hint of eco-concern weigh heavily on your compact performance saloon-driving conscience, Audi claims 40.9mpg combined and 159g/km of CO2. The S-tronic gearbox even features a fuel-saving coasting function when driven in Efficiency mode.