Spending forty thousand pounds on a mid-sized hatch used to be impossibility for iN readers wishing to distinguish themselves from the hoi polloi.
But don’t think your tears of anguish have gone unnoticed. Instead, stand up and salute the ambassadors of good taste at Audi, who clearly feel your pain and will happily throw you a lifeline - in the form of the forty thousand pound RS3. Now we’d never want to sabotage such selfless assistance from our European cousins, but if history has taught us anything it’s to be wary of the Germans.
And 40K does seem a rather a lot for a tarted up Golf. Doesn’t it? Well, put like that it does. Look beyond the price-tag though and things start to make a bit more sense. To get started performance is class leading, thanks to a 2.5 litre five-cylinder turbo engine - 0-60mph comes in (a launch control aided, V8 R8 matching) - 4.6 seconds and top speed is limited to 155mph. But it would be good for over 170mph, were it not. Headline figures of 335bhp and 332lb ft of torque are impressive, but the way the engine produces the power is better still. No hum-drum fourcylinder thrum here, just a rich and creamy five cylinder roar-cum-warble.
Unlike the majority of its rivals, the RS3 calls on four-wheel drive which combines with lowered suspension, 19 inch wheels and months’ of testing at the Nürburgring, to produce what we can only assume (but would be happy to confirm with a test car, Audi?) will be a tidy handler. Possibly the best part of the RS3 is that it has all the best bits of the Audi A3. A smart exterior that means it can be proudly parked on any drive and an interior that makes you feel special when you can’t admire the exterior and five door practicality which should prove a boon to anyone that is, erm... ‘lucky’ enough to have children.
But is it worth 40 thou? Well, sail dangerously close to Porsches and high end 1-Series BMWs it may do, but at this price neither can match the performance or, snore, the practicality which leads us to the frightening conclusion that the RS3 may just be good value.