The interior layout, fit and finish
You probably won't have any difficulty getting comfortable behind the wheel of any Audi S3. The steering wheel has plenty of reach and rake adjustment, and the manually adjustable driver’s seat is comfortable – if not quite as figure-hugging as the one in the rival BMW M135i and Volkswagen Golf R. It is a shame, though, considering how much the S3 costs, that you have to pay extra for adjustable lumbar support. If you want electric seats, you'll need to upgrade to the seriously pricey Vorsprung model.
Visibility is, unsurprisingly, identical to in the regular Audi A3, thanks to good-sized windows that provide a clear view out. Rear parking sensors are standard on all models. Front sensors and a reversing camera are available, but cost extra unless you go for Vorsprung trim. All S3s get bright LED headlight for great visibility at night, though.
The S3 beats the A35 AMG and Volkswagen Golf R for interior quality, but it's not faultless. The dashboard’s prominent plastic ledge is not particularly appealing when you touch it, plus there are some fairly cheap-feeling materials between the front seats. The BMW M135i feels plusher and more solid throughout.
BMW also has the edge over Audi when it comes to the infotainment set-up. Like the standard A3, the S3 gets a 10.1in touchscreen infotainment system, but it can be a little distracting to use on the move. The system in the M135i can be used as a touchscreen but also has a separate rotary controller interface that demands less of your attention when you're driving.
On the plus side, the S3's touchscreen is sharp and responds quickly to prods. It's also packed with features – including Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration and built-in navigation – while the reasonably priced and thoroughly recommendable Comfort and Sound pack adds a punchy Bang & Olufsen sound system with more power and extra speakers. You get that as standard if you go for the Vorsprung model.