► Audi's hot Q3 driven
► 395bhp 5cyl turbo
► Regular or Sportback shape
Audi’s new RS Q3 puts the cross into crossover. This 400hp beastie is one very angry little SUV, and we haven’t seen a grille that big since George Foreman stopped making the Mormon edition of his lean-mean fat reducing cooking machine.
1. 400hp, you say? The full mouth and trousers package…
If we’re being pedantic it’s actually 400PS, so 395bhp, but yeah, the RS Q3 Sportback has definitely got the numbers. And it’s going to be crucial to the Audi Sport division posting some impressive figures of its own. It wants to double sales of its S and RS lines by 2023.
2. Right, so it’s introducing a range of small, affordable performance cars to…
…let me just stop you there. The basic RS Q3 Sportback costs £53,600, a set of Apple Airpods less than a Porsche Cayman and only a couple of grand less than a Cayenne. You can knock £1150 off if you go for the squarer (on every sense) non-Sportback RS Q3, more of which later. But more likely you’ll push the price the other way.
The Audi Sport Edition (£57,950) ups the wheels from 20 to 21-inches, adds black detailing and a panoramic roof, though you still might want to add £995 for the Comfort and Sound pack (B&O hifi and reversing camera), and £800 for the Driver Assistance Pack (safety stuff, adaptive cruise and high beam assist). Or you could just lose the plot altogether and splash £61,500 on the Vorpsrung version, which gets all the goodies, plus adaptive dampers.
3. Hmm, you’re losing me. Let’s get back to that engine.
Happily. It’s essentially the same unit we’ve seen in the RS3 and TT RS, which means it’s not just the amount of power it makes, but the way it makes that power. Instead of a boring turbo four, the RS Q3 has an inline five-cylinder engine that’ll make you grin from ear to ear.
The addition of a particular filter means it actually sounds slightly less growly than in previous incarnations, but it’s still bursting with character, and bursting to be let off the leash. Power is up 60bhp from the old car and the 354lb ft torque peak stretches all the way from 1950rpm to almost 6000rpm, meaning acceleration is pretty epic no matter how many revs are on the dial when you open the taps.
Zero to 62mph takes 4.5sec, and if you find the box on the option list to persuade Audi to remove the 155mph speed limiter, and enough straight road to check it did, you’re good for 174mph.
4. What about the corners between those straights?
It’s textbook fast (non-R8) Audi stuff. Masses of grip, quick, but slightly dead steering, fantastic brakes, and not much in the way of adjustability at road speeds. It is fun to hurl down a twisty road, but it doesn’t have the sophistication of a Porsche Macan, which steers and rides vastly better.
5. Sounds very much like its RS3 hot hatch brother
It does, and that’s part of the problem. It feels very much like a hot hatch, and £55k+ for a GTI is too rich for our tastes, even for one with an interior as nice as this has, and with residuals as strong. Not that Audi is alone. BMW and Mercedes are both at it, and neither has an engine as charismatic as the RS’s five.
6. Anything else worth knowing?
The back seats are pretty tight. The quality and price might scream ‘big car’ but the screams of pain from lanky adults forced to endure a long journey in the back don’t tally.
On the other hand the boot is a generous 530 litres with the seats up (a Mondeo estate only offers 525) and that’s regardless of which body style you go for. Drop the rear seats and the non-Sportback car’s more vertical rear window gives it a 125-litre advantage.
Audi RS Q3: verdict
Three stars seems a bit stingy. The RS Q3 has plenty going for it, specifically that fantastic five-pot motor. But it’s expensive even before you’ve shelled out for the adaptive dampers you’ll want to try to tame the fidgety ride. For our money Porsche’s slower, but roomier, more comfortable and more engaging Macan S is a better buy.
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