The Audi S3 Sportback is the ideal choice for drivers who want top drawer hot hatch performance in a sophisticated and comfortable package.

It might have lost its ‘most-powerful-hatch' crown to the hardcore Ford Focus RS, but it's still the classiest fast hatchback around.

The Audi S3 is the enthusiast's edition of its more conservative sibling, the A3 hatchback. First produced by Audi in 1999, the second-generation car launched in 2006 is significantly more muscular than its predecessor, Using the same floor pan as the VW Golf, the Audi S3 offers standard quattro four-wheel drive plus plenty of power and a great chassis to deliver sure-footed performance regardless of road conditions. With a firm ride, the car isn't especially comfortable on badly surfaced roads - but for those who want a rapid small hatch that can cope with any road condition, few cars can rise to the occasion like the S3.

The purposeful looks of the Audi S3 hatchback work even better in Sportback form; the extra length and rear doors give it a more grownup appearance. Thanks to a minor facelift the head turning Audi LED daytime-running lights are now fitted, and their piercing light really alters the character of the car. Chrome door mirrors and S3 emblems along with 18-inch alloy wheels separate it further from the rest of the range.

The 2-litre turbocharged engine found in the S3 hatchback and Sportback is an evolution of the motor found in the Volkswagen Golf GTi, Seat Leon Cupra and Audi TTRS. With 261bhp and 258lb/ft of pulling power it's significantly more powerful than the Golf GTi, thanks to a larger turbocharger and reworked engine and exhaust components.

The Audi S3 Sportback feels incredibly solid and well built and the engine and Quattro four-wheel drive system are well proven autel maxidas ds808. Audi performs worse than some rivals in the Reliability Index, partly as a result of higher servicing costs than some competitors.

AUDI S3 TYPES Whereas the first Audi S3 came in three-door hatchback form only, the second-generation car is also offered as a five-door Sportback alongside the three-door edition.

Both cars are mechanically identical however, which means there's a 1984cc four-cylinder up front, turbocharged and intercooled to give 261bhp. This feeds power to all four wheels via a six-speed gearbox, with 18-inch wheels as standard.

These combined with the stiffened and lightened suspension, enables the car to corner far more purposefully than the A3 autel ms906. There is also a more sporty part-leather interior, topped off with contemporary inserts finished in brushed aluminium or piano black.

DID YOU KNOW?

The S3 has a top speed of 155mph and accelerates from 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds.

The S3 features stiffer suspension than the A3 on which it's based, while it also sits 25mm lower to improve roadholding further.

For those who want to feel like a racing driver, the S3 can be ordered with a flat-bottomed steering wheel - just like in a Formula One car.

Find about Audi S3 here and about other Audi Cars here
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