In a quest to remain at the pointy end of the hot hatch horsepower pyramid, both Audi and Mercedes have been locked in an intense battle of numbers for more than half a decade. First the Audi RS3 took the honour of being the most powerful hot hatchback when it first appeared back in 2011, only for it to be edged out by the monstrously powerful 355bhp A45 AMG just two years later.
Now Audi is firmly back on top, and poised to stay there, with the new RS3 packing a whopping 394bhp from its TT RS sourced five-cylinder engine. Power is sent to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, and both the car’s suspension and all-wheel drive system have been fettled in the hope of making the handling a little more entertaining.
Will that be enough to lift the historically straight-laced Audi above the far less expensive, yet altogether more playful, BMW M140i and Ford Focus RS? Read on over the next few pages to get our in depth impressions, and to see how the pocket-rocket Audi compares with the competition.