TopGear On Ice - Subaru WRX STi takes on the Audi RS3

I'm heading for the Audi RS3 Sportback first. Reassuringly fruity (335bhp), reassuringly expensive, reassuringly German. OK, so it looks a bit dull, but fumble the start button and it sheds its shopping-cart parentage with a turbocharged five-pot rasp. The little connecting road that leads from the middle of the lake to the track has been scrubbed smooth, so I switch off the traction control (as much as this Audi will allow) and experiment with grip.

My goodness, this thing's quick. Ice-launching in it defines efficiency: the exhaust barks a gurgle, four identical rooster tails sprout from each wheel and it simply flicks itself forward. There's no fuss inside - just a sensation not unlike the Heimlich manoeuvre followed by a g-force facelift. Then the seven-speed S tronic 'box finds you a new gear and repeats. In a straight line, the permanent quattro is sparkling, spangling brilliance.