Audi pretty much invented the premium hot hatch with the first-generation Audi S3 back in 1999, effectively dropping in the running gear and engine from the Audi TT sports car into the A3. And although BMW and Mercedes have subsequently jumped on the posh hot hatch bandwagon (Mercedes especially), the Audi S3 has remained the go-to fast hatch for those wanting surefooted four-wheel-drive handling, high-end build quality and performance that – while perhaps not mind-blowing – is more than capable of raising a smile. The first-generation Audi S3 (Type 8L in Audi codename-speak) wasn’t the most exciting car in handling terms, but subsequent versions have become consistently more engaging – as well as more powerful and faster to boot. Early cars had to make do with 210hp, while the most recent models (both the last of the third-generation car and the fourth-gen model) can muster a chunky 310hp. If you want visceral hot hatch thrills an S3 might not fit the bill, but as a comfortable, classy everyday car with meaty performance there for when you want it, it’s a mighty machine. And yes, it shares much of its underpinnings with the VW Golf R, but the two cars feel very different.