5. Audi RS 3 Saloon (and LMS)[Not a valid template]
Fans of small, fast saloons can whoop with joy as Audi’s new 400bhp, four-door RS 3 – a first for Ingolstadt – took centre stage in Paris. The RS 3 shares the same chassis as the newly face-lifted A3 as well as the same 2.5-litre TFSI turbocharged five-cylinder housed in the new Audi TT RS. An additional 33bhp over its now retired predecessor means the RS 3 can hit 0-100kph in 4.1 seconds, a 280kph top speed, and can even out-drag its closest rival from Mercedes, the 355bhp CLA 45 AMG. Torque similarly rises from 343lb ft to 354lb ft, sent to all four-wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Visually, the RS 3 receives an ‘RS’ front bumper, flared wheel arches, larger twin exhaust pipes, and a fixed rear spoiler/diffuser combo over its more everyday A3 brethren, though also features several performance-related additions. The RS 3 sits 25mm lower than the A3, while the front and rear track have been widened by 20mm and 14mm respectively. Carbon ceramic discs hit the options list, though the 370mm discs and eight-piston callipers behind new 19in alloys are also new additions to the mid-sized performance saloon.
Race fans might also be keen to hear that an LMS version of the RS 3 also made its debut in Paris. An entry-level model for customer racing teams and the TCR touring car series, the 2-litre TFSI four-cylinder in racing trim produces 330bhp, hits 0-100kph in 4.5 seconds, and boasts a top speed of 240kph. More important than that, it also looks magnificent.