There’s a sense of understatement to the RS3’s interior that seems odd at first, but it begins to make sense when you consider the car as Quattro GmbH clearly does: not so much as the maddest, wildest, hottest of hot hatchbacks on the block but rather as a feeder car for the rest of Audi’s RS performance range.
This is an Audi, after all, and the garish extravagance of volume brands in performance mode, or even of a Focus RS's or A45’s cabin, wouldn’t do. So some may find the RS3’s interior a bit monotone – soulless, even. But this cabin is as immaculately finished as it is pleasingly practical and there really aren’t many other charges you could level at it.
You have to look harder than expected for the extra-special go-faster fitments, which would suggest that Audi could have afforded to be a little bit bolder and freer with them. The flat-bottomed steering wheel is leather-Alcantara, for example, and just tactile enough to excite the fingertips but absolutely no more so.
The instruments look pretty stock, until you investigate them closely enough to see the boost gauge inset into the rev counter (handy for timing your launch control starts) and find the lap timer incorporated into the drive computer.
The car’s wide-shouldered nappa leather sports seats come with RS embossing, as well as excellent all-round support. Our test car’s were the optional Super Sports seats with diamond stitching. Carbonfibre-shelled RS buckets, saving 7kg per side compared with the standard ones, are another option and would doubtless add more performance flavour.
Likewise, there’s an interior design package that adds red accents to the driver’s knee pad, air vents, floot mats and seatbelts.
You shouldn’t need to dress up your £40k mega-hatch with so many options in order to give its interior a genuine sense of the dramatic, of course. But many will.
And whether you do or not, you’ll have car with five doors, decent cabin space and a good-sized boot – one that, judged against its closest rivals, provides the same distinguishing usability that Audi RS models have traded on for decades.