The latest in the company’s series of RS models, it’s powered by the same five-cylinder 2.5-litre petrol engine as the TT RS coupe, which produces 335bhp and 332lb ft of torque.
In the RS3, that’s enough to help it hit 62mph in just 4.6 seconds – the same as V8-engined versions of Audi’s R8 supercar – and go on to an electronically limited top speed of 155mph.
The car also has a suitably sporty soundtrack to go with that performance, thanks to a ‘sound flap’ (controlled by the sport button that also adjusts the engine’s response) in the exhaust, which intensifies the car’s exhaust note.
Marshalling all the power is a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch semi-automatic gearbox. It can operate in fully automatic mode, or the driver can change gear, using either the steering wheel-mounted paddles or the gearlever.
Last, but not least, the car’s suspension sits 25mm lower than the regular A3’s, and various parts are made of aluminium to save weight.
That – along with fuel-saving features such as an on-demand oil pump and a regenerative system that recovers energy as the car decelerates – helps it to return average economy of 31.0mpg and CO2 emissions of 212g/km.
The RS3 comes in a choice of five exterior colours and it stands out from other A3 models thanks to its xenon headlights, unique body kit, aluminium-coloured mirrors and roof spoiler.
Inside, the car has a black interior, including leather-trimmed sports seats with contrasting silver stitching. The flat-bottomed steering wheel is also trimmed in leather, while the instruments are unique to this model.
Standard equipment includes climate control, LED daytime running lights and rear parking sensors, while bucket seats, roof rails and various styling packages are available as options.
UK buyers will be able to order the car from mid-December, with a price in the region of £40,000, and first deliveries are expected in April 2011.