The fact that the new Audi A3 Sportback wins this price point is impressive enough, but it becomes even more impressive when you consider the incredibly high standard of the cars it beat.
Its main rival was the all-new VW Golf, which is a much-improved version of last year's class winner. That's pretty stiff competition.
The two cars went head-to-head in our February issue, and it was one of the biggest tussles we've ever seen at What Car?. They're quite different in character, despite sharing the same mechanicals, and both are utterly sensational; brilliant to drive, to be in and to own.
Eventually, the Sportback won through by the tightest of margins. It's the more entertaining car of the pair on the road, and it has a more intuitive infotainment system. What really sealed the victory, though, was the Audi's classiness. The beautiful cabin materials, flawless assembly and fastidious attention to detail put it head-and-shoulders above any rival for quality. It actually feels posher than some executive cars.