Sun and rain. They had a big effect here. When the clouds gathered, the rain fell and the track darkened, I thought one was a revelation, another a total liability. When the sun shone, the wind blew and the track dried, those positions were reversed – one danced, the other dulled. The third car? Well, that wasn’t fazed by anything at all.
Sensible representatives of the German big three. Who’d have thought they’d deliver anything other than a perfectly polished performance? But here’s the thing – each of these has a very strong character, a certain way of doing things that colours the way it drives as well as the conditions it thrives in. They’re not direct rivals. They don’t sit in the same class. We’re calling them the super saloons, but one’s a hot hatch, another a coupe. One’s rear-wheel drive, one’s 4WD, the third is, well, both.
Let’s start with the Audi RS3. It’s the new saloon version, 24kW more from the single-turbo 2.5-litre 5cyl, new 4WD software and benefitting from an aluminium crankcase and magnesium oil pan, which help remove 26kg from the front axle. It’s a potent, dense little car, a mobile wrecking ball. In its sights, the BMW M4 CS. Welcome to the squeezed middle of the M4 range: above the everyday model, below the daft 700-only two-seat, 368kW R2 134 500 GTS. This is different: most of the learnings from the GTS, shoe-horned into a regu