If you think owning a hot hatch is all about making a bold statement with huge alloys and wings, then Audi's most powerful A3 to date isn't for you. But if you're of the opinion that sporty cars should be understated and let the performance do the talking, then the V6 quattro Sport fits the bill.
Until the V8 S3 arrives next year, this is Audi's civilised hot hatch. Using the 3.2-litre engine from the TT V6, VW Golf R32 and Touareg off-roader, it packs a mighty punch, sprinting from 0-60mph in an impressive 6.4 seconds.
It has tenacious grip, while the aural delights of the V6 engine are transmitted to the cabin subtly. That said, the driving experience isn't perfect. The ride is firm so the chassis can cope with the extra muscle, which leads to a loss of composure over bumpy surfaces.
And the steering could be better, too. Although it weights up nicely mid-bend and is suitably heavy on motorways, it lacks feel at low speeds. Our test car had the DSG paddleshift gearbox from the TT V6, which we prefer to the six-speed manual as it offers quicker changes. The system pre-selects the next ratio, making for very smooth progress.
Inside, sports seats, a leather steering wheel and Bose stereo add a touch of class, while the climate control is simple and effective. Our only gripe is that Audi claims the car can return 27mpg, but we only managed 19mpg.