The RS3’s interior might not look quite as dramatic as the cabin in a Mercedes but you do get a super-slick infotainment system and everything feels much more solid
There’s no chance you’ll mistake the RS3’s interior for a run-of-the-mill A3’s – it’s packed with sporty touches from the flat-bottomed steering wheel to the metallic dashboard trims and contrasting stitching on the body-hugging bucket seats.
Sure, it might not look quite as flash as the AMG A45’s carbon-fibre-clad cabin but it feels sturdier and comes with some key high-tech features you won’t find in the Mercedes. Where the A45 comes with conventional analogue dials (albeit with sporty red inserts), the RS3 gets a configurable 12.3-inch digital display with a special RS mode as standard.
You also get a second seven-inch infotainment screen that rises from the dashboard when you turn the ignition on. That might not sound particularly ground-breaking, but it certainly looks much slicker than the knock-off iPad display that sits awkwardly on the A45’s centre console.
If you fancy really pushing the boat out you can get even more supportive leather front seats with diamond stitching for an extra £795 or carbon-fibre inserts on the dashboard and doors for £850.
Still worried your RS3 might look a bit understated? An extra £895 will buy you flashy red contrast stitching and air vent surrounds alongside extra leather and suede-like Alcantara upholstery on the doors and around the armrests.
Audi’s excellent digital driver’s display means you can focus on the important things – such as driving – without worrying about missing that crucial sat-nav instruction
The RS3 comes with the same intuitive infotainment system as the A3 Sportback with the addition of Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit digital display as standard. The latter replaces conventional instruments with a slick 12.3-inch screen that displays a combination of rev counter, speedometer and sat-nav directions right in your eye line.
It’s a doddle to tweak the screen layout to suit your preference using buttons on the steering wheel and it helps the tech-heavy RS3 feel much more modern than the Mercedes-AMG A45. It feels particularly special when you engage the unique RS mode and a huge rev-counter dominates your view from behind the steering wheel, flanked by power, torque and G-force readouts.
Thankfully, the RS3’s infotainment isn’t just good at measuring how many Gs you pulled leaving the McDonalds drive-through – it’s a breeze to use for more everyday tasks, too. Typing an address into the standard-fit sat nav is a doddle and you can even pair your phone using Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to use your favourite apps through the Audi’s built-in screens.
Navigating through the system’s menus isn’t quite as intuitive as in a BMW M2 but it’s much easier than in the occasionally confusing Mercedes-AMG A45. The rotary click wheel on the centre console falls easily to hand and plenty of sensibly placed shortcut buttons on the steering wheel mean you can switch through some of its menu screens without having to move your hands at all.
If you’d rather listen to FM than RPM you can upgrade the RS3’s standard stereo to a more powerful 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen unit with a bassy subwoofer as part of the Comfort and Sound pack. This’ll set you back £995 but also comes with a reversing camera, keyless unlocking and hill-hold assist to help stop you rolling backwards during hill starts.