£45,705 Price range
The Audi RS3 Saloon is a 400hp sports car you should consider if you’re looking for a fast four door but don’t want something as large as a Mercedes C63 or BMW M3.
Don’t go thinking the Audi will be slower than these cars just because it’s smaller, however – it’ll leap from 0-62mph in 4.1 seconds. That’s exactly the same as the Mercedes, 0.2 seconds faster than the M3 and half a second quicker than the similar-sized BMW M2.
Thankfully, the RS3’s also very easy to drive. All models come with Audi’s signature quattro four-wheel-drive system that’ll help you stay in control in slippery conditions and launch you out of corners as fast as Usain Bolt’s pet greyhound.
It’s even fairly easy to drive around town. Sure, you’ll feel bumps through the seat more than in the standard A3 but it softens jarring thuds from potholes impressively well – especially with the optional £995 adaptive suspension fitted.
Unfortunately, there are a few flies in the RS3’s ointment. Its burbling turbocharged five-cylinder engine might sound fantastic from the outside but its enthusiastic crackles and bangs are relatively muted from the driver’s seat. It isn’t exactly cheap to run, either – Audi claims it’ll return 34mpg but you’ll be lucky to see a figure in the high twenties.
Practicality is another area where the RS3 Saloon loses a few points. There’s less headroom in the back than you get in the five-door RS3 Sportback and its boot is significantly smaller, too. Even the two-door M2 can carry an extra suitcase and a few more small bags than the RS3 Saloon.
Thankfully, its cabin looks and feels fantastic. Almost every inch comes with a leather, suede-like Alcantara or soft plastic finish and plenty of brushed metallic trims and high-tech touches make sure you won’t mistake it for a 2.0-litre diesel A3.
The Virtual Cockpit digital driver’s display, for example, comes as standard on this high-performance RS model. It replaces conventional analogue dials with a futuristic configurable screen and even gets a special RS mode that displays a huge rev-counter right in your eyeline.
Unfortunately, while the RS3 gets plenty of equipment as standard you’ll still have to pay extra for adjustable lumbar support and automatic emergency braking – a feature that’ll help avoid low-speed collisions by braking for you if it senses an obstacle ahead.
Harder to stomach than a few optional extras is the fact that the cheaper RS3 Sportback does everything the saloon can do but has a bigger boot and more space in the back. Still, if you rarely carry passengers and want a seriously rapid compact sports car with four doors, the RS3 Saloon’s well worth considering.