Engine / Transmission: 2.5 turbo petrol – 7 speed automatic transmission
Manufacturer Claimed Fuel Economy: 8.9L/100km combined
Price: From $105,750 drive away
In a nutshell:
The engine is to die for! The rest of it? Meh.
Let’s get one thing straight, right from the off; five-cylinder engines rock! The 2.5-litre turbo five-pot fitted to Audi’s RS Q3 (and the RS3 hatch and sedan) is an awesome, awesome thing. It has a tremendously fat lump of mid-range grunt and a top-end sting that you will rarely really experience on the street. The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic fitted to the RS Q3 lacks the polish of the latest eight speeder fitted to the bigger, more conservative S4, but it slams home gears like the best of them.
Unfortunately, I find the rest of the RS Q3 about as easy to swallow as a dose of Chinese herbs. I just can’t buy into the hyper-sports mini SUV coupe thing. I just can’t understand why you would go for the RS Q3 over the more svelte and sharper RS3… except that you can’t currently buy a new RS3. Coming a gutsa of stricter Euro emissions standards, the RS3 had a slight hiatus in 2020, before being relaunched early this year. It has now dropped off Audi’s stock lists altogether (there is a whole new generation RS3 coming late this year). Your best bet now is to grab a near new RS3, like this Kyalami Green weapon for sale now for $100k, before they’re all flogged out. https://www.carsales.com.au/cars/details/2020-audi-rs3-carbon-edition-auto-quattro-my20/OAG-AD-19728144/?Cr=1)
I might not understand the point of the RS Q3, but it sure does have some kit.
On the safety front, Attention Assist makes sure you haven’t missed your hit of No-Doze, a plethora of airbags keeps you safe for when you overcook it in the bends and Autonomous Emergency Braking prevents you from nailing pedestrians and cyclists at up to 85kph and other vehicles up to 250kph (you’re travelling at 70 metres per second at 250kph, so that’s a serious radar!).
The 12.3” Audi virtual cockpit with haptic feedback is as impressive as ever. So too is Audi’s ability to blend SatNav with Google Earth. Speaking of SatNav, you can write an address on the touch screen and your handwriting is interpreted by the SatNav and set as a destination. It’s an impressive trick, but you’ll be back to using voice control or a plain old keyboard before you know it. CarPlay and charging are both wireless.
Fit and finish in the test car was up to Audi’s usual high standard – the paint is deep and the leather is soft. The front seats are heated, but it would be nice if the rear seats were heated too.
Despite all of this kit, the engine is the absolute star of the show. Open roads, for example, are a pleasure. It’s just so nice to know you have so much performance on tap for overtakes and the like.
Unfortunately, for me, this gem of a motor is wasted in an SUV body.
Not So Impressive:
SUV coupes, such as Mercedes’ GLE coupe and BMW’s X6 combine all of the bulk of an SUV with the limited practicality of a (four-door, admittedly) coupe. Frankly, they turn my stomach. The RS Q3 isn’t as repulsive as a BMW X6, but it’s fighting in the same corner. The raised body height of the Q3 over the RS3 may aid the driver’s vision in traffic a little, but it also raises the CoG, resulting in a rolly, pogo-ing ride despite firm springs and, at times, a brittle ride. The RS Q3 has electronically controlled dampers, but its ride is, strangely, simultaneously harsh and wallowing. Likewise, the 21” rims and 35 profile tyres mean you’re unlikely to cross the Simpson so what’s the point of the raised body height and wheel arch extensions?
Actually, the rest of the Q3 range is very, very good… if mini-SUVs are your thing. I just don’t understand why you’d want to cram 300kw and a ceramic brake option into one, all while cracking off 0-100kph in four seconds or so. Further still, the RS Q3 has a 320kph speedo, even though it’s electronically limited to 250kph. It’s just all a bit silly.
Still, what do I know! Sales of mini-SUVs are through the roof so someone obviously likes them and if you do you may as well have one that goes like a bat out of hell.
WHEN ON A TEST DRIVE:
Make sure you take an S4 sedan or wagon or an S5 hatch or coupe for a drive – they’re about the same price as the RS Q3, but much more cohesive and make much more sense nearly all of the time.