This is the Audi S3. It's a sporty version of the firm's standard A3 hatchback and it's fast, there's no two ways about it. While it might boast a serious bomb of an engine and chassis tweaks to match, it'll also be an easy every-day car to use.

But let's start with the important stuff. The new long-stroke 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine produces a massive 300 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque available between 1800 and 5500 rpm. Only 10 years ago the Porsche 911 was producing that sort of power. And now you can get it in a hatchback.

All that motive force means the S3 will hit 62 mph from rest in 5.1 seconds and run head-on into its 155 mph electronically governed limiter.The zero-to-62-mph time rises to 5.4 seconds if you spec the manual transmission instead of the faster shifting S tronic dual-clutch unit. The latter gearbox is also more efficient — the S3 will return 34 mpg combined with 159 g/km CO2 emissions.

In a clever method, Audi has combined its direct-injection FSI technology with indirect, "normal" fuel injection to help improve consumption and reduce emissions. The indirect squirting of fuel into the cylinders supports the FSI system at part throttle to up efficiency.Overall, the engine is a technical tour de force; not only does it produce 35 more horsepower than the motor it replaces, it's more than 11 pounds lighter and nearly 25 percent more efficient. That's the kind of development we like.

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Like with many modern performance vehicles, Audi has gone down the route of artificially enhancing the engine's note to create a sportier experience. In the S3's case, an "electromechanical sound actuator" at the front bulkhead helps pipe more of the motor's noise into the cabin, while the exhaust also has an active sound flap.

Both transmission variants have been optimized for the best possible trade-off between performance and efficiency, according to Audi. The lower gears have shorter, more closely stacked ratios to improve acceleration; the ratios become taller when shifting up through the gearbox to reduce revs and fuel consumption.

The 6-speed manual comes fitted as standard and both gearboxes get a lightweight magnesium case. Audi's permanent quattro all-wheel-drive system also comes on all S3s, distributing power to each wheel though an electronically controlled center diff.

No word at this time if the new Audi S3 will find its way across the Atlantic to America — but we can hope.

Sean Carson writes for Motoring Research and appears here courtesy of MSN Cars UK.