The Audi RS Q3 Sportback is the perfect example of powerful practicality. A beastly engine combines with a refined cabin to produce one of the fastest SUV's on the planet.
Interior isn’t Audi’s finest.
The 5-door Audi RS Q3 Sportback is a high-performance SUV with race-car capabilities, and perhaps more importantly, bags of practicality. When it comes to practical performance, the RS Q3 has the hot hatch RS 3 on toast - unfortunately, the same can’t be said about driving enjoyment.
Now in its second generation, this extraordinarily fast SUV combines the style and elegance of the Q3 with the power and outright fun of an RS.
The potent performance is supplied by the 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder engine, which sends a whopping 295bhp to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
The RS Q3’s closest competitors come in the form of the slightly less powerful (four-cylinder engines) BMW X2 M35i, Mercedes GLA 45 and Volkswagen T-Roc R. Although it’s worth noting that its performance is closely matched to the far more expensive Porsche Macan Turbo and Jaguar F-Pace SVR.
The RS Q3 is also available in a standard estate body style which is slightly more practical, but rather less attractive.
When it comes to interior styling, the RS Q3 isn’t Audi’s finest engineerial masterpiece. The cabin is rather dark and lacks a certain spark afforded to most Audi cars. You will, however, receive a leather multi-function RS steering wheel and front RS Sport seats upholstered in Fine Nappa leather with honeycomb stitching.
Gadget-wise, the RS Q3 Sportback is pretty hooked up. The dashboard mounted 10.1” central touchscreen is complimented by Audi’s 12.3” Virtual Cockpit display located behind the steering wheel.
In terms of practicality, the boot on the RS Q3 Sportback is identical to that in the standard Q3. Whether you’re up front or chucked in the back, comfort won’t be an issue thanks to the RS Q3’s generous seat adjustment and wide body.
The RS Q3 might be dizzyingly quick, but it feels like Audi has spent most of their budget on the five cylinder engine and forgot about the rest of the car. Unresponsive steering and a laggy gearbox mean that the driving experience isn’t as fun as it should be, and for the money you’re paying (£50k+), you might want to look at plusher, more well-rounded alternatives like the Porsche Macan.
With all three trim packages falling into the £50-60K bracket, we’d say you get more bang for your buck with the entry-level RS Q3. The big selling points for the RS Q3 are the front RS Sports seats in Fine Nappa leather with honeycomb stitching, MMI Navigation Plus with MMI touch display and Audi Virtual Cockpit Plus as standard. You’ll also receive a ton of safety features such as Parking System Plus, Cruise Control, Lane Assist and Pre-Sense Front.
RS Q3 Audi Sport Edition
The middle-of-the-range ‘Sport Edition’ trim provides the RS Q3 with a mysterious complexion. The jet black 21” ‘V-spoke polygon’ alloy wheels lay the foundation for the dark tinted Matrix LED headlights and black styling pack which adds a stream of black highlights to the exterior, including the Audi rings and Q3 logo. The Sport Edition also features a panoramic glass sunroof and an upgraded RS Sport, dual branch exhaust system with exhaust flap control and gloss black oval tailpipe trims.
RS Q3 Vorsprung
The alpha of the RS Q3 trim line belongs to the luxurious ‘Vorsprung’. The windmill-esque 21” ‘5-arm trigon’ alloy wheels are seductively hypnotic, while the carbon exterior mirrors and twin inlays add to the sporty characteristics of the RS Q3 even further. The Vorsprung’s upgraded RS Sport Suspension Plus allows you to alter between driving modes for guaranteed comfort on any stretch of land. If you like your tunes, the standard 15-speaker, 680w Bang & Olufsen 3D Sound System is an absolute deal breaker. You’ll also receive a number of innovative safety features including a 360 degree camera, adaptive cruise control and emergency assist thanks to Audi’s Driver Assistance Pack.
The coupe-style sloping roofline gives the RS Q3 Sportback a sportier edge over its Estate sibling. The glossy paint job, distinctive black honeycomb grille and RS specific bumpers with matt aluminium detailing all contribute to the striking RS design.
The RS spotting genes are apparent in the dual branch exhaust system, large oval tailpipes, large side air inlets and flat slits that sit above the single frame radiator grille.
Upgrade to the Sport Edition trim and you’ll receive an alluring black styling pack and a more ferocious exhaust system.
The sophisticated carbon touches on the Vorsprung trim are a must-have if you enjoy the finer things in life.
The Audi RS Q3 is available with just the one engine - a 2.5-litre five-cylinder S Tronic petrol output. Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system ensures that power is distributed through all four wheels to enhance the RS Q3’s grip and through corners and dodgy weather conditions.
The mighty five-cylinder engine has the power to unleash 395bhp which makes the RS Q3 capable of going from 0-62mph in a mere 4.5 seconds on top of reaching a top speed of 155mph.
If that’s not enough to satisfy your needs, you can equip the RS Q3 with the Performance Pack Plus (for an additional £1,660) which will unshackle the RS Q3 to a top speed of 174mph.
The seven-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox dictates most of the driving experience - and not in a good way. The laggy response time is evident when you’re looking for a burst of acceleration which is actually quite worrying given the RS Q3’s hungry engine.
The RS Q3 Sportback offers a decent range of steering wheel adjustment and the electrically adjustable front seats ensure you won’t struggle to reach the pedals!
Front visibility is pretty good thanks to the slim front pillars, but unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the rear. The sloping roofline gives the Sportback a much smaller rear screen which makes it harder to see out of than the standard Audi RS Q3 Estate.
All RS Q3 models come with a progressive steering system that gets faster the farther you turn the wheel. This makes manoeuvring out of tight spots easy on the arms and ensures tight corners require less steering input at higher speeds.
The quattro all-wheel drive system allows the RS Q3 to take corners at a fair rate of knots. The only downside is that there's very little sense of connection between the steering wheel and the front tyres when cornering.
The laggy gearbox makes driving around town a bit of a chore, but once you get out on the open road, ‘Sport’ mode makes the gearbox more decisive.
The Audi RS Q3 Sportback gets a sports suspension that is 10mm lower than the standard Q3.
The stiff, sporty suspension helps to reduce body lean, but it worth noting that the firm springs cause the RS Q3 to jiggle on even the smoothest or roads. This doesn’t bode well for the RS Q3 over lumps and bumps, where you’ll be wincing and bobbing every time you hit a pothole.
We highly recommend the optional RS Sport suspension (standard on Vorsprung) if you want a smoother ride The dynamic chassis control kits the car out with oil-filled dampers that adjust the suspension to deal with different driving situations, giving a sportier response and much-improved comfort.