New Audi RS3 vs Mercedes-AMG 45: interiors

Both of these hot hatches are bonkers fast. But is Audi's latest RS3 good enough to see off its thrilling Mercedes-AMG rival?...

New Audi RS3 interior

Behind the wheel

Driving position, visibility, build quality

If you’ve fallen in love with the dayglo Kyalami Green (£575) of the Audi RS3 in our photos, we’d wager you’d like a few visual accoutrements on the inside as well. Unfortunately, you can’t have any – at least, not unless you think a small RS badge on the steering wheel and some discreet RS stitching on the seat-backs count.

True, some will like the understated look of a regular A3 inside, but plenty will want more differentiation – so it’s a shame UK buyers can’t have the faux suede steering wheel and body-coloured highlights on the air vents and seats that are available as a pack in some other countries.

You might also wish for a bit more side support from the RS3’s driver’s seat. It’s certainly comfortable, and it isn’t as though you slide into your front passenger’s lap whenever you go around a tight right-hander, but given the incredible amount of cornering force the car can generate, it’s surprising that it doesn’t have sportier seats to hold you in place better.

Mercedes-AMG A45 S interior

Like the ones in the Mercedes A45. Slim and high-backed, they’re the sort you’d find in a proper sports car and lock you in place brilliantly, meaning you don’t need to rely on your core strength to keep your torso upright on twisty roads. Fortunately, the seats are still comfortable on long journeys, and while you can opt to have a relatively conservative interior colour scheme if you want, you can also have some red or yellow interior highlights, and you get a tactile faux suede steering wheel (complete with evocative 12 o’clock marker) as standard.

While both cars are closely matched for outright interior quality, the inherently more extroverted design of the A45’s dashboard makes it look a tad more special inside. It’s also worth noting that if you’re the proud owner of the previous-generation RS3, which had one of the best-built interiors around, you’re likely to be underwhelmed by some of the plastics in this new model. By contrast, this A45 is considerably more upmarket inside than its predecessor.

Infotainment systems

Audi RS3

Audi RS3 infotainment

The previous-generation RS3 had a more user-friendly infotainment system, but as touchscreen systems go, the one in this new model isn’t bad at all. It responds fairly quickly to prods and the menus are logically ordered. You also get a three-year subscription to Audi’s online services. If you love listening to music, consider stumping up for the optional Bang & Olufsen sound system – part of the £1195 Comfort and Sound Pack

Mercedes-AMG A45

Mercedes-AMG A45 S infotainment

Using the 10.3in touchscreen is fine when you’re parked up, but when driving it’s less distracting to use the touchpad between the front seats, or the smaller touchpads on the steering wheel. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring come as standard, as they do in the RS3, and while you can’t upgrade the sound system, what you get as standard delivers decent punch and good sound quality.

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