Audi is all in on electrification, but it still knows how to make a wholesome performance car powered solely by a good ol' combustion engine. We're not talking about the mighty R8 supercar with its naturally aspirated V10, although this new RS3 is just about as quick to 62 mph (100 km/h) as Audi Sport's flagship vehicle. Yes, a compact model with half the number of cylinders can almost match a fully fledged, mid-engined supercar.
Our long-time friend Auditography was given the chance to not only immortalise the 2022 RS3 Saloon, but also put its 2.5-litre turbocharged engine through its paces in an acceleration test. The Four Rings may say the car needs 3.8 seconds to hit 62 mph (100 km/h) from a standstill, but as you can see in the video shot in beautiful Greece, the all-wheel-drive speed machine is much quicker.
Gallery: 2022 Audi RS3 Sedan shot by Auditography
3.1 seconds – that's all it took for this Python Yellow RS3 to complete the sprint, shaving off 0.7 seconds compared to the official time. German luxury brands are known to deliberately underestimate the capabilities of their performance cars, but we weren't expecting such a big difference between the quoted and real-life acceleration numbers.
Of course, performance isn't all about straight-line acceleration, but with torque vectoring and a drift mode, the RS3 is shaping up to be a real hoot even when you're not putting the pedal to the metal on the Autobahn. Even though it's based on a front-wheel-drive platform, the hot compact sedan is tail-happy provided you activate the standard RS Torque Rear – the official name for drift mode.
The latest RS3 also happens to be the fastest production car in the compact class to lap the Nürburgring, made possible partially thanks to its RS Torque Splitter to counteract the understeer typically associated with powerful FWD cars. With a generous 395 bhp and 369 lb-ft (500 Nm) on tap, the smallest RS model from Audi Sport certainly needed its clever Quattro system to efficiently channel all that power to the wheels.
Spy shots have revealed archrival AMG A45/CLA 45 is preparing for a mid-cycle update and it will be interesting to see whether Mercedes will find a way to respond to Audi's latest compact rocket. The days of ICE performance cars might be numbered, but it's safe to say petrol has never been this exciting.