Can an SUV ever drive as well as a standard car? Ginny Weeks puts Audi’s super fast RS Q3 crossover to the test.
What is it? The Q3 is Audi’s medium sized crossover, taller than the newly launched Q2, but smaller than the Q5 and Q7. The RS Performance is the fastest version with 367bhp and a 0-60 of 4.4 seconds, powered by a 2.5-litre turbo petrol engine.
First impressions? The face lifted RS Q3 isn’t for show-offs; it’s all about classy, refined sportiness and little Audi RS touches over and above garishness. The silver wing mirrors, large grille and air inlets alongside subtle RS badging point to the power of the engine. Our press car came in Ascari Blue, a gorgeous azure shade.
What’s about the interior? The interior has a lovely, high quality feel – typical of Audi. Everything works seamlessly and the RS chrome styling adds a bit of interest to the design. The infotainment and sat nav system worked really well, but could have benefited from being touch screen for ease of use. Parking sensors come in handy too as reversing is made a bit difficult with the thick rear pillars.
The back seats were spacious and big enough for the whole family with good head height, but overall I did find the ride very firm.
On the road? The acceleration is immense, with light, smooth gear changes from the automatic seven-speed gearbox and fun pops and growls from the exhaust. The permanent four-wheel-drive feels secure, but there is no getting away from that occasional SUV bodyroll, even with the lowered sport suspension. Saying that, the small steering wheel gives the car a nimble, light feel without losing confidence.
Audi’s Drive Select system has three driving modes: comfort, auto and dynamic, which help to adapt to changing environments, but dynamic (aka sport) mode is the most fun and a revelation on faster roads. If you find the auto box too slow in the other modes, the paddle shifts are quick to override any sluggishness.
Will it break the bank? Covering just over 500 miles used a tank and a half of fuel, averaging around 26 miles to the gallon. Compared to the regular Q3 the RS Q3 is priced at £49,185, more than £20,000 above the price.
What are my options? The RS Q3 comes in an array of options but be warned, some are on the pricey side and you’ll have to pay for fun styling touches like the dynamic indicators.
And safety? The Audi Q3 scored top marks of 5 stars in the Euro NCap safer test, the added safety of 6 airbags and ESP as standard ensures that the Q3 is one of the safest SUV’s on the market. There are plenty of options available to improve safety such as Blind Spot Monitoring and Active Lane Assist.
So the verdict? SUVs are a popular choice for families because they are easy to get into and offer more room than a standard car, but they will never drive as well as a hatchback or saloon because of the ride height.
Audi have done wonderful things with the RS Q3, but it still hasn’t convinced me to go for an SUV over a hatchback or saloon with a lower driving position. However, if you like crossovers/SUVs and you like them fast and well built, this could be just the ticket.
Why you’ll buy one? SUV height, rapid speed, classy image
Why you won’t? SUV height, firm ride, pricey
Audi RS Q3 Performance
Engine: 2.5 litre turbo – 2480cc 20v turbocharged 5-cyl, 362bhp @ 5550rpm
Max speed: 126 mph
0-62 mph: 4.4 seconds
Emissions: 203 g/km
Model price range: from £49,185
No of Doors: 5
Euro NCAP : 5
Fuel type: Petrol
Fuel Economy (combined cycle): 32.8mpg
Boot Capacity Seats up: 460 litres
Length: 4411 mm
Width: 2019 mm
Height: 1580 mm
Wheelbase: 2603 mm
22nd May, 2017