The starting price is $1000 dearer than the Mercedes and that’s before adding options that the Benz has as standard, among them adjustable suspension ($1240), metallic paint ($810), radar cruise control ($1420), premium audio ($1340), collision warning ($540) and sunroof ($1570). These blow the price out to $85,390.
It has a face that looks as if it’s about to eat the road but from the side and rear the RS3 is more conservative-looking. Some buyers will prefer it that way, because they can travel incognito. The layout inside is simple yet functional. The flat-bottomed steering wheel is the same found in the Audi R8 supercar. The RS3 has a roomier cabin front and rear and a bigger boot than the Mercedes.
The RS3 sounds much like a Lamborghini V10 — the 2.5-litre in-line five cylinder is one half of the 5.0-litre V10 in the latest Huracan. It has similar-outputs to the Benz (270kW/465Nm) but they don’t tell the full story. The grunt from low revs in this engine is amazing. And combined with a seven-speed twin-clutch auto, it was faster than the Benz (see driving).
It gets five stars: standard fare includes a rear camera and front and rear sensors, and seven airbags (rear seats have curtain coverage but lack side airbags at waist-height). Automatic emergency braking is not available but an option packs adds precrash warning, radar cruise control and active lane assistance.
According to the brochure, the RS3 does the 0-100km/h sprint in 4.3 seconds (0.1 slower than the Benz). But in our real-world testing we repeatedly achieved an expletive-inducing 4.0 seconds using satellite-based timing equipment. It’s an absolute missile. And all with one simple move: flooring the accelerator. The engine’s torque is more usable in daily driving and the suspension also rides over bumps better and quieter than the Mercedes.