From £46,3508

Dashboard, infotainment, sat-nav and passenger space

The fundamentals of the Audi RS3’s cabin haven’t changed a great deal as part of Audi’s mid-cycle overhaul.

You’re getting a little bit more equipment as standard than you might have two years ago, as well as a little bit more life and colour splashed around the place if, as our test car had, your car has Audi’s £800 RS Design Pack fitted.

I do like a part-suede steering wheel, but I prefer one where the same upholstery’s used. Means you can pass it through your hands more consistently

That gets you a welcome helping of red stitching for the seats and various other bits of leather upholstery, some red edging for its seatbelts, red accents for its air vents and garishly branded RS3 floor mats.

If another manufacturer were trying to sell a performance car based on a hatchback available for little more than £20,000 at over twice that price, we’d be watching very closely that the car in question was up to snuff in terms of perceived quality.

The material class of the RS3’s cabin is beyond question, though. It feels tactile, solid and upmarket exactly where it’s intended to and the smattering of richer than average materials – the Alcantara sections on the steering wheel, extended leather on the door cards and centre console and shiny metallic sports pedals – all do the trick in lifting the ambience that bit above the ordinary.

You do sit slightly perched at the controls, farther above the car’s belt line than you’d ideally like, and with necessarily bent knees if you’re long-legged.

Back to top

In a hot hatchback, an ergonomic compromise like that is still typical, but in a saloon, customers have a right to expect a more recumbent position.

Second-row space is more than adequate for smaller adults and growing teenagers, but a bit mean for a larger grown-up.

As for cargo volume, the saloon bodystyle gives you a boot that’s 170mm longer than the Sportback’s and identically as wide but also only 430mm deep. By saloon standards, it’s a fairly small boot, at 315 litres. A Jaguar XE 3.0 S gives you 140 litres more.

The RS3’s standard infotainment offering is a strong one. You get Virtual Cockpit as standard, which means there’s a 12.3in display screen where your analogue dials might otherwise have been, and you can configure that screen to show navigation mapping, your chosen radio station, trip computer information or any number of other things. And because this is an RS, there’s a special display mode with a central tachometer.

You also get Audi’s MMI Navigation Plus navigation system as standard. It teams up with Audi Connect (also standard) to provide online traffic updates for your route and excellent dynamic route guidance.

With Audi Connect, you get an on-board data sim for live information on things like fuel prices, flight times and weather updates.

The RS3’s infotainment system is well laid out and very usable. The system is beginning to show its age in the apparent lack of processing power here compared with the set-up in the related VW Golf R, but it’s still very feature rich and responsive compared with other systems.