Audi would have you believe that every car it offers with the famous quattro all-wheel drive system is infused with the spirit of the seminal 1980s Sport quattro. That isn't really the case, but a few get closer than others--like the new 2015 Audi S3, as we recently discovered. We've already sampled its 290-horsepower, 2.0-liter four cylinder engine, but there can be few sterner tests than a head-to-head with its spiritual predecessor. Put the two on a rally course, and the odds look stacked in the boxy Sport quattro's favor.

As it happens, that isn't quite how things pan out. Given a gravel rally stage once used by the San Remo rally in Italy, and all the modern advances that have taken place in the last 30 years, it's a fairly easy victory for the new car. There can be no accusations of driver bias either--racer Hermann Müller in the S3 is matched with Swedish rally legend Stig Blomqvist in the short-wheelbase quattro--a driver who once took full works-spec quattros to several victories in the mid-1980s.

The Sport quattro is no slouch either. Produced to homologate Audi's rally vehicles, the wide-arched quattro produced a full 302 horsepower from its 2.1-liter five-cylinder turbocharged engine. Competition cars boosted that output to well over 400 horses, but the car in the video is an immaculate example of one of the few road-going versions produced.

The new car is the faster then, and effortlessly so. But as good as the S3 is--it's the Sport quattro we'd prefer to take down an Italian rally stage...


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