Billed as the most potent S3 Sportback to date, the car packs 300 horsepower and 280 lb-ft. of torque.

Audi has lifted the veil off of the 2013 S3 Sportback at the Geneva Motor Show. Aimed squarely at the Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG, the five-door hot hatch is the most potent regular-production S3 ever built.

In the car's engine bay lies a 2.0-liter TFSI four-cylinder engine that is both turbocharged and direct-injected. Linked to a standard six-speed manual transmission or to an optional six-speed S tronic dual-clutch unit, the mill sends 300 horsepower and 280 lb-ft. of torque to all four wheels via Audi's famed quattro all-wheel drive system.

When equipped with the dual-clutch transmission, the S3 sprints from zero to 62 mph in 5 seconds flat and reaches a top speed that is electronically limited to 155 mph. In spite of its performance-minded vocation, the engine returns up to 34 mpg in a mixed European cycle, which is significantly different from the way the EPA tests cars in the United States.

Visually, the S3 Sportback sits about an inch lower than a regular A3 Sportback and it is fitted with a model-specific grille and an air diffuser flanked by four chromed exhaust tips. 18-inch alloy wheels mounted on low-rolling resistance tires come standard while upgraded brakes on all four corners keep the extra power in check.

Thanks in part to aluminum body panels, the Sportback tips the scale at 3,185 pounds, 154 pounds less than the outgoing model.

Save for a S-specific instrument cluster, the S3 Sportback's dashboard is nearly identical to the one found in the A3 Sportback. The front passengers are treated to bucket seats that feature the S3 emblem stitched into the seatbacks, and the rear bench can fold down to free up extra cargo space.

The 2013 S3 Sportback will go on sale across Europe later this year. Pricing information will be revealed closer to its launch.

At the time of writing Audi does not plan on bringing the S3 Sportback to the United States, but a four-door variant of the car designed to take on the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class will be unveiled in a matter of months.

Live photos by Andrew Ganz.