AUDI RS3, $78,900
With half a Lamborghini V10 shoehorned under the bonnet, the RS3 can lay claim to being the world’s hottest hatch. Audi says it will complete the 0-100km/h sprint in 4.3 seconds. They’re wrong. We repeatedly achieved 4.0 seconds flat when we tested it. But C63-rivalling acceleration is only part of the appeal of the RS3. The 270kW five-cylinder engine at full throttle is one of the sweetest sounds in modern motoring. You can hear the Lambo genes through the tailpipe — it growls at low revs and howls as the redline approaches. It may not be as razor-sharp through the bends or as gorgeous to look at as BMW’s M2 coupe, but for fuss-free exhilaration, it’s hard to beat. Some buyers may think it’s a little anonymous on the road — it looks like an A3 with big wheels and fancy tailpipes — but for others, that’s the appeal. You can get around looking like Clark Kent during the week and take off faster than a speeding bullet when the mood takes you.