When first taking delivery of ‘our’ Audi RS3 saloon longermer, I was a little shocked to discover that its £44,700 base price had ballooned to £59,475, especially when you consider that the car lacked adaptive dampers, adaptive cruise control, a reversing camera and various other things you’d expect for the price.
A quick look at the spec list revealed why: it’s been given all sorts of stuff it just doesn’t need. So, if we were actually buying an RS3 saloon, what options would we shirk, and what would we add?
Let us take you through what’s been selected, and whether or not we reckon you need it:
£4695 carbon ceramic brakes
We say a big fat no to the most expensive thing on the spec list. Without taking it on some bonkers mountain pass, you hopefully shouldn’t be cooking your brakes on the road, and the RS3 doesn’t exactly seem like a natural track car. Just one per cent of UK buyers option these, Audi tells us.
£790 Super Sports Seats
A hearty hell yes. These quilted leather bucket seats look the business, and I have no complaints in terms of comfort or support.
£850 carbonfibre inlays
Wait, how much?? The smattering of CF bits in the cabin is nice and all, but not for the best part of a grand. Nein danke.
£895 RS Design Pack
This pack adds Alcantara knee pads, RS floor mats, red edges on the seat belts, black ‘leatherette’ door armrests with red stitching and red accents for the air vents. Another one that’s down to personal taste, but the red vents do look a tad tacky, so we’d prefer to go without - especially as that saves nearly £900.
£325 Audi ‘Phone Box’ with wireless charging
Definitely one to pick. It’s a shame the features of this pack - including wireless charging - aren’t fitted as standard.
£30 smoker’s pack
For the sake of £30 you may as well - that lighter could come in handy whether you’re a smoker or not.
£375 privacy glass
It’s not the 1990s anymore, so we’d say no to this one.
£495 Bang & Olufsen Sound System
Most definitely. A decent sound system is something you’ll probably use every single time you’re in the car, and the B&O unit is a good upgrade.
£650 carbonfibre engine cover
No thanks - £650 just doesn’t seem worth it for the sake of staring at something slightly prettier for all of a few minutes each time you check and/or top up the fluids.
£1600 top speed limit increase
Nope, and this is perhaps the most egregious thing on the options menu, and unsurprisingly it’s one that just 15 per cent of UK buyers bother with. Swapping one arbitrary top speed limit you’ll probably never hit (155mph) to a higher top speed limit (174mph) you’ll almost definitely never hit for the price of £84 per mph seems far too steep. Particularly when for just a little more (£2058), tuning firm Litchfield bins the electronic limiter entirely while also upping the power to 500bhp…
£1000 sports exhaust
A very different kind of sound upgrade to the B&O stereo, and one we’re definitely on board with. That inline-five needs to be as vocal as possible, and most UK buyers agree: so far 69 per cent of them have ticked this box.
£695 diamond-cut wheels
The standard-fit rims are a tad disappointing, and given that the RS3 is already a little too understated for our liking, we’d happily plump for these upgraded wheels. They improve the handling too, since the front tyres on these option rims are 255-section as opposed to 235.
£895 Matrix LED headlights
These are perilously close to adding a grand to the overall price, but these lights are undoubtedly very good. And very clever, because individual lighting diodes turn on or off to provide as much light as possible without blinding whoever’s coming the other way. We’d say yes.
£800 gloss black design package
Expensive, but we’re not hugely keen on the lashings of silver around the front of the car you get without this optioned. A reluctant yes.
£275 folding mirrors plus auto-dim function
I know, I know - you’d think this would be standard. But it’s one of the cheaper options, and one that our ideal RS3 would have selected.
£400 Advanced Key
I have reservations about the keyless go concept, but we’d keep this on the car.
All told, our de-selections would save you £9065. Yep, £9065. With the money ‘saved’ we’d then option the Comfort and Sound pack, which gives you the B&O sound system, a reversing camera and the Advanced key. Electrically adjustable front seats can be added for £650, but for our ‘ideal’ RS3 we’d leave that option unticked - annoyingly, it can’t be combined with the Super Sports seats.
Doubly annoying is the lack of single adaptive cruise control option - if you want it, you need to select both the Driver Assistance pack and the option that includes Active Lane Assist, Side Assist, Traffic Jam Assist and Emergency Assist. In case you want to assist all the things. It’s £1250 for the pair of options, but they include plenty of things to make mind-numbing, congested motorway journeys easier, so we’d go for them both.
The £1000 Magnetic Ride would be tempting, and with 29 per cent of buyers optioning these adaptive dampers, they’re a popular choice. But I’m not convinced the RS3 needs them - the ride is firm but well within the realms of acceptability, and it’s not like the car is wanting for extra stiffness when you’re pressing on. If you’re tempted, they can be bundled together with the louder exhaust for £1700.
Like the Nardo Grey finish? Good - it’s the only ‘free’ colour Audi will give you. Various metallic finishes are available for £550, although I’d be tempted to go for the fabulous Audi Exclusive Viper Green (above) option or perhaps Solar Orange - the only trouble is either might make the car harder to sell on. Oh, and each will set you back £2400. Eek. But hey - that’s not far off the combined cost of the silly top speed limiter and engine cover options, but for something that you can enjoy every time you look at the car.
Without any colour options, our total on-the-road price is £53,105. Even if you go for an Audi exclusive colour, our dream RS3 is still nearly £4000 cheaper than the one we’re currently driving, and, we reckon, would be a much better all-round car.
How would you spec yours?