- Power mixed with practicality
- Fun to drive
- Comfortable sports seats
- Options can be costly
- Interior needs some updating
Now hands up if you think the Audi Q3 is just for parents on the school run? Well, despite this tag it’s when you add RS to the equation that everything changes...and for the better.
Getting a refresh, the lively compact SUV model has more rivals to take on than it did when it was first launched, but does it still merit the RS badge?
On The Road
If you’re looking for power you’ll get it in spades with the RS Q3; be prepared to say goodbye to white vans hanging off your rear bumper with the 2.5-litre five cylinder, turbocharged, petrol engine. It will rocket from 0-62mph in just 4.8 seconds, not bad for an SUV, using 340PS with 450Nm of torque. Expect rapid acceleration as soon as you floor it. Instantaneous in fact. It has a top speed of 155mph, not that you’ll ever get near that, and it uses an updated seven-speed S-tronic transmission which is even so seamless you have to look at the rev counter to even see it is changing gear. Expect a sportier, racier feel with paddleshifts on the perforated, moulded-to-your-hands steering wheel.
If you require even more power, then the RS Q3 Performance model is now available to order adding a further 27PS, bringing it to 367PS.
Steering is superb, it’s responsive, well weighted and gives the driver plenty of confidence, which comes in handy when you want to push it to the limit. You can really lean on it into corners thanks to the quattro permanent all-wheel drive system, offering vast amounts of grip on the tight and twisty roads. Does it still feel like you’re driving an SUV? Not at all, with the Drive Select system letting you adjust the car settings from comfortable to sporty and the option of RS Sports suspension with damper control then you can forget the size and shape of the car you’re driving and think it’s a much sportier number.
When it comes to refinement it’s an area that may need some work. There’s quite a bit of wind noise deflecting off the large wing mirrors and our test car, sitting on 20-inch wheels made quite a thunderous noise in the cabin meaning music volume had to be turned up on B roads to drown out the din. It is a lot quieter on motorways, but it does score highly with the five pot engine roar - it’s got shades of the original Audi Quattro on the 1980s rally stages.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
The interior is everything that is expected from Audi - it’s high quality, the leather and alcantara mix of the sports seats offer a premium feel, the aluminium pedals add that sportiness, but with recent Audi models ditching the plastics and visually now a step ahead, the RS Q3 is lagging behind a bit in the cabin.
The RS branding is featured around the car, on the instrument panel, the flat bottomed steering wheel and the gear lever, but it is disappointing that Audi’s latest advanced technology the exemplary Virtual Cockpit Display isn’t likely to be an option anytime soon.
For now the model features a pop up 6.5-inch display screen which features satellite navigation, bluetooth, car settings and media, all easily operated by the on-board computer.
The sports seats are comfortable, snug and there is electric four-way lumbar support.
Space & Practicality
The Q3 is a spacious model, there is plenty of head and rear leg room. Boot space can be accessed by the power operated tailgate and it’s pretty decent if you load it up with plenty of luggage with the option to use the split-folding rear seats for extra space. The only negative is the angle of the rear window as it cuts into the space available.
If you’re looking for something smaller then you’re in luck as the hotly anticipated Q2, which made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show recently, will become available this year. No word as yet if that will be RS’d up, but we live in hope.
The RS Q3 costs from £45,810, but be prepared for a raft of costly options. RS Sports suspension will cost £680 while a comfort package will add a further £670. Our test car totalled £49,240.
Running costs won’t be on the low side, expect to pay £290 in road tax as it falls into tax band K as emissions are 203g/km. With a combined mpg around the low thirty mark it might need regular trips to the fuel station if you push it relentlessly.
Quality & Reliability
The RS Q3 looks the part with plenty of exterior and interior quality aluminium details, the leather and alcantara finishes add the premium that the brand is known for and it’s no wonder that their profits are increasing, as are the number of models across the Audi range.
There haven’t been any major issues with the Q3 or RS Q3 models, the only complaint seems to be poor practicality and high running costs, but it’s a cool car and still manages to do well in reliabilty surveys.
Safety & Security
With a galvanized, steel body, it’s no wonder the Q3 got the maximum five stars in the Euro NCAP tests when it was launched, it scored 94% for adult occupant protection, with 85% for children.
It comes with airbags throughout the car including head and front side, ISOFIX, a first-aid kit, tyre pressure loss indicator and driver assistance systems include a seat-belt reminder, Anti-lock brake system and Electronic Stability Control.
Thieves can keep their hands off the RS Q3 as it comes fitted with an alarm and immobiliser.
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