Audi RS Q3 2016 Review - Once famed for producing just one hot model at a time, Audi’s RS division has grown hugely over recent years, and so has its line-up. The result: you can now walk into an Audi dealership and buy an RS version of the humble Q3 crossover that will bark its way to 62mph in 4.8 seconds, making it quicker than a standard Porsche Boxster. Get behind the wheel, and it’s hard not to make instant comparisons with the RS 3, because after all, this is the same 2.5-litre, five-cylinder engine with just slightly less power, and this crossover also shares the same four-wheel drive system as the super hatch. But, the really big surprise for me, is that We've actually having more fun in this car. Why? Well, while the RS 3 is devastatingly fast, it basically grips and goes no matter what, and sometimes you don’t feel that involved as a driver. But, there’s something about the tiny bit of extra body roll of the Audi RS Q3 and the way you can really feel it shuffling power to each wheel which actually feels more exciting, even on a dry road. The rather numb steering feel from the RS3 seems less of an issue in high-riding crossover and there’s also another less objective reason. The RS Q3 can do things most people wouldn’t believe a small SUV can do, and that feeling of complete surprise is actually very fun and very addictive. And, if that doesn’t make you grin enough, Audi has now announced an even faster version.
So if this car with 335bhp isn’t enough, there’s a Performance option with 362bhp, slicing four tenths from the 0-62mph time. Complaints? Well, the seven-speed Stronic automatic can clunk when shifting at lower speeds, and there’s also too much of a difference between the light steering in Comfort mode and the heavy feel in Dynamic, so it’s a shame there’s no Individual setting to tweak things yourself. Economy is rated at 32mpg, and I have been getting around that on my motorway commute, but a B road blast will decimate it, so you need an iron will if you want to save fuel. The interior definitely feels very upmarket, with special mentions going to these grey RS dials, gorgeous seats and the steering wheel, which is great to hold, even if the paddles feel like plastic, because, well, they are.
This car is fitted with the Comfort Package and Technology pack, adding a reversing camera, cruise control, auto high-beam lights and sat-nav. It also brings Audi Connect, which includes a 3G connection, Google earth view and traffic updates, although adding both packs adds up to almost £1,700. Everything works quickly and is easily laid out too, but the Q3 isn’t one of Audi’s very latest models, so you won’t find all of the company’s latest tech, including the excellent Virtual Cockpit in the TT, Q7 and Audi A4.
Space up front is good, as you’d expect, and while the Q3 doesn’t actually look that tall parked next to other cars, you do get a better view of the road than in a hatch. Interestingly the driver’s seat does go 15mm lower this time though, so it’s possible to get a sportier driving position. Perhaps the Q3’s biggest compromise over larger SUVs is the back seats. You can just about get two adults back here, but legroom and headroom are adequate rather than exceptional. The RS Q3 also doesn’t have a particularly big boot, in fact measuring 356 litres, it’s quite a bit smaller than the GLA 45 AMG and Macan, which both have more than 480-litres, and if you need speed and practicality, the Golf R Estate we recently tested, might actually be a better alternative.
So, you’ve probably guessed all this performance doesn’t come cheap, and yes, starting from £45k the RS Q3 is an awful lot of money. With options, this car is £49k, which is actually about the same as the RS 3 we tested a few months ago. Saying that, it is on a level footing with its rival from Mercedes and undercuts the Macan. RS models are always focussed on performance, but here the combination of 335bhp in a car you’ll see on the school run, just makes you smile. Audi has created a car with more character and ability than you would ever guess. If you can stomach its fairly high running costs, you’ll certainly have one of the most surprising crossovers so far. Thanks for read Audi RS Q3 2016 Review.