Each week our team of experienced senior road testers pick out a new model from the world of innovative, premium and performance badges, and put it through its paces.
APR 03rd 2016
The Goodwood Test: Audi RS Q3 – High‑Riding Heaven?
The Audi Q3 hasn't been on the planet for an awfully long time, it landed on our shores in production form in 2011, having first been teased as Audi's 'Cross Coupe' concept at the 2007 Shanghai Motor Show. The RS Q3 joined the lineup in 2013 and the car we have here has undergone a mid-life refresh alongside the rest of the range. The true history is to be found in the first two letters: RS. A set of initials attached to some of Ingolstadt's finest machines, from the original RS2 through to the mighty RS6 avants of the last decade. That original RS2 was an iconic joint venture between Audi and now-stablemates Porsche, who fiddled with the Audi 80 to produce the first in a long line of uber-estates back in 1994. Since then the brand has grown to rival BMW's M Division and the might of the now Merc-owned AMG.
As we mentioned the Q3 and RS Q3 have undergone makeovers in the last year, emboldening the RS with a new, more aggressive grille, which integrates into the front lights. Those lights are new LED units, fitted with Audi's trick dynamic indicators (a fact we have to admit made us almost want to spend more time outside the car watching than in), and paired with an updated set at the rear to match. To stand it out from the standard car the RS has much bolder bumpers, giving it a pronounced and aggressive chin. Giant, 20-inch rims, a small spoiler above the rear window and a huge single exhaust complete the look. It could never be described as pretty, but there's no denying it looks aggressive and, most importantly, fast.
The 2.5-litre, five-cylinder petrol engine under the RS Q3's bonnet has been fettled to give it 29bhp, and 21 lb ft, more than the original, meaning the hot crossover now boasts 335bhp and 331lb ft when firing at its peak. That's enough to propel it to 62mph in 4.8 seconds, helped by a lightening-quick seven-speed S-Tronic 'box.
What the RS Q3 can't hide is its bulk, it's not a small car – obviously riding higher than the RS3 sibling by some way – so weight-transfer is always going to be an issue. However the boffins at Quattro GmbH have been playing with the suspension and electronic systems on the RS Q3, and have done an incredible job. Don't expect it to sit flat as you dive down country roads, but you're never left worrying that it's about to topple either. It doesn't take long to learn the RS's quirks, and pretty soon you come to love them. What you cannot get away from is the prodigious ability of the RS Q3 to hurl itself forward at a near alarming rate, tickling that 155mph limiter is just a twitch of the right-foot away.
Want a comfortable cruiser that's capable of humbling even the fastest hot hatches? This is the car for you. With a ride never too harsh, and an astonishing ability to contain the mass it has to overcome, it's easy to see why people would be attracted to the RS Q3. In fact it is the Q3's height that gives it so much character. Rather than just another mighty hot-hatch in a world full of them, it is the way the RS Q3 moves that endears it, harnessing its capabilities slaps a massive grin on your face and brings a real sense of accomplishment, but never leaves you flustered. Your move Porsche Macan...
Price of our car (RS Q3 2.5T FSI Quattro 5dr S Tronic): £50,685.00 (incuding £1,510 of optional extras)
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