Strip away this special-order Viper Green paint and you're left with an athletic, somewhat reserved design.

Caption by / Photo by Chris Paukert/Roadshow

This car features optional "black optics," including gloss-black lower fascia details, mirror caps and a subtle lip spoiler.

Caption by / Photo by Chris Paukert/Roadshow

Dual oval exhaust outlets add a degree of menace to the RS3's otherwise clean rear end.

Caption by / Photo by Chris Paukert/Roadshow

Like its less-costly A3 and S3 siblings, the RS3 is available with a full cache of advanced safety assistants, including adaptive cruise with stop and go, auto-brake, blind-spot and active-lane assist, and so on.

Caption by / Photo by Chris Paukert/Roadshow

This new sedan bodystyle is expected to help the RS3 make big inroads into countries like the United States and China, which historically don't go for hatchbacks.

Caption by / Photo by Chris Paukert/Roadshow

Lights are LED all the way 'round.

Caption by / Photo by Chris Paukert/Roadshow

Chief competitors to the RS3 figure to be the Mercedes-AMG CLA45 and BMW's M2.

Caption by / Photo by Chris Paukert/Roadshow

Note how the hood shut seam aligns nicely with the headlamps' inward cut.

Caption by / Photo by Chris Paukert/Roadshow

Audi will also offer a full-blown, non-street-legal RS3 LMS race car for privateer racers.

Caption by / Photo by Chris Paukert/Roadshow

RS3 badges help distinguish this from lesser S3 and A3 models.

Caption by / Photo by Chris Paukert/Roadshow

The thin lip spoiler is also available in body color if you don't opt for the blacked-out trim pack.

Caption by / Photo by Chris Paukert/Roadshow

While the 2.5-liter I5 does a vocal throat-clearing exercise when firing up, there are not a lot of theatrical pops and bangs on overrun.

Caption by / Photo by Chris Paukert/Roadshow
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Caption by / Photo by Chris Paukert/Roadshow
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