RE: Audi RS Q3 Performance: Review

RE: Audi RS Q3 Performance: Review

Saturday 9th July 2016

Audi RS Q3 Performance: Review

Guilty pleasure or guilty as charged? The RS Q3 Performance faces the court of PH opinion



On the face of it the Audi RS Q3 Performance is doomed before it's even turned a 20-inch wheel. This is, after all, a car based on the 'old' RS3 built on VW's aged PQ35 platform, rather than the current RS3's lighter MQB shared with the Golf R and many others. Scrolling down the spec sheet it doesn't get any better either. Sure, a 367hp turbocharged five-cylinder engine promises warbly delights and its insertion into a blobby school-run favourite is amusingly incongruous.

Is novelty value enough to overturn cynicism about the £53,050 bottom line though? Or the fears that onto the RS3's dynamic reportoire of dogmatic understeer Audi has simply added a dose of top heaviness. Because that'll help, won't it...

It might be a cylinder down and similarly expensive but the Mercedes-AMG GLA45 carries off the look far more stylishly and, in some ways, proves itself the best all-rounder of the '45 trio. If you want a go-faster compact crossover the AMG would seem a much more aggressive-looking and appealing prospect than the Weeble-like Q3.


One of the good guys
But then you talk to people who've spent time in the RS Q3 and a picture builds of a car far more entertaining and characterful than its on-paper sales pitch would ever hint at. People who know cars seem to rate it as one of the 'good' fast Audis. Can that really be the case?

Incredibly enough the RS Q3 launched as the first 'proper' Quattro GmbH tuned Audi crossover, making its debut back in 2013 and inspiring a PH comments thread just shy of 250 responses. Not many of them especially favourable. It was facelifted in 2014, power increasing from 310hp to 340hp among a series of detail tweaks including shorter lower ratios for the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Earlier this year we got confirmation of the RS Q3 Performance version, pushed to 367hp to offer a symbolic 7hp power advantage over the aforementioned GLA45.

And that's what we have here. The absurdity of boasting of lowered sports suspension on a high-riding crossover seems to have escaped Ingolstadt's irony filter (if indeed, there is such a thing), but the Performance rides 20mm lower than the standard Q3. The extra power shortens the 0-62mph benchmark by a worthwhile four tenths to a vaguely absurd 4.4 seconds, this 1.1 seconds faster than the original RS Q3. Matt silvery-grey trim elements mark the Performance out from regular RS Q3s but no aesthetic mods can make good on the fundamentally dumpy proportions. Credit where it's due though - one fat exhaust pipe is commendably anti-fashion in this day of bazooka-like quad-pipe arrays and complies with PH's official exhaust rules.


Wibble wobble
First impressions at town speeds would seem to confirm all the worst fears, the steering wheel flopping about limply in your hands and the ride brittle and unyielding on the kind of speedbump riddled roads your average Q3 would consider home turf. Dynamic mode on the Audi Drive Select simply adds false weight to the steering and a bit more five-cylinder throb from the flap-controlled exhaust.

The powertrain is impressive though, even if the chunky 2.5-litre motor is slung way over the front axle in true Audi tradition. As in its other applications it's impressively charismatic, as honest to the turbocharged, boosty traditions of the Ur Quattro as the sound it makes from that howitzer exhaust pipe. There's even some whistly induction noise layered on top for good measure.

Chinks in one's armour of cynicism appear as you start exploring the firepower at your disposal too. Suddenly the blobby appearance becomes less of an annoyance and more amusing, the yawning mis-match between the way it looks and the way it goes novelty enough to compensate. It's not just the speed; the noise adds to the fun, bringing out your inner Rohrl as you perambulate around the suburbs.


Surprise and delight
Out on the open road the urgency of the boosty power delivery continues to amuse. Even the damping settles down, managing a half respectable job of keeping that high-riding body under control. This on the passive dampers, a multi-mode £680 RS Sports Suspension set-up optionally available if you want more to select from your Drive Select. Those funky wavy brakes (the design saves a kilo per disc) even have decent feel, not grabbing in the way some Audi set-ups can and offering confidence inspiring power all the way through the pedal stroke thanks to eight-piston calipers.

Against all expectations could this yet be one of the 'good' fast Audis? There are limitations. At civilian speeds it's commendably neutral, understeer only building when the speeds are beyond what your confidence in the steering would usually encourage. Yes, if there's a real dynamic weak point it's that steering, there never being any sense of what the tyres are up to. The top-heaviness also limits your confidence, sudden weight shifts contained by the damping but never feeling entirely comfortable. Fast and flowy is good, tight and twisty less so.

How many Q3 drivers, RS or otherwise, regularly nudge against the limits though? Exactly. In the realms in which most will be used - that is to say naughty squirts of acceleration between the lights and some understated school gate one-upmanship - the RS Q3 is bang on target. It's also impressively refined on a long run, can cruise at a commendable 30+ mpg and, a generation back on the newest latest or not, the interior is predictably solid and user-friendly. For a family hack it's not the most spacious of vehicles though.

In true fast Audi fashion the RS Q3 pairs a breathtakingly powerful engine brimming with charisma and soul into a vehicle conspicuously lacking in either of these qualities. There is a surprising amount of comedy value in this, at least on the limited exposure of a week's press loan. It's a joke with an expensive punchline but one not entirely lost on a crowd like us. And from the initial set-up who'd have thought that? Ultimately though if you like the sound of all this it's hard to escape the idea an RS3 offers all the same amusement with a considerably more favourable centre of gravity, more modern interior and better looks. For suggesting there is a sense of humour lurking behind the straight-laced Audi façade the RS Q3 Performance is a surprisingly amusing novelty though.


AUDI RS Q3 PERFORMANCE
Engine
: 2,480cc, inline five-cyl turbocharged
Transmission:
Power (hp): 367@5,550-6,800 rpm
Torque (lb ft): 343@1,625-5,550rpm
0-62mph: 4.4sec
Top speed: 155mph
Weight: 1,655kg (Unladen EU)
CO2: 203 g/km
Price: £47,850 (£53,050 as tested including £90 for Audi hill-hold assist, £500 for Comfort package plus, £1,010 for Technology package, £450 for Audi active lane assist, £690 for BOSE surround sound, £1,125 for Panoramic glass sunroof and £1,335 for on the road costs)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author
Discussion

toppstuff

Original Poster:

12,200 posts

183 months

Saturday 9th July 2016
quotequote all
I like' em.

They are a good buy used.

Mrs TS likes a high driving position because of a knee injury. I think I prefer it too.

Throw in an amusing engine and it all makes sense.

Probably prefer a GLA 45 though.. smile

CharlieAlphaMike

211 posts

41 months

Saturday 9th July 2016
quotequote all
Pointless confused

toppstuff

Original Poster:

12,200 posts

183 months

Saturday 9th July 2016
quotequote all
CharlieAlphaMike said:
Pointless confused
Not if you have dodgy knees and prefer a high driving position - or prefer a high driving position anyway.

Just because you want a small SUV does not mean you have to put up with a boring diesel, does it?

acer12

718 posts

110 months

Saturday 9th July 2016
quotequote all
toppstuff said:
Not if you have dodgy knees and prefer a high driving position - or prefer a high driving position anyway.

Just because you want a small SUV does not mean you have to put up with a boring diesel, does it?
The same poster will be whinging 10mins later that there are too many diesels out there

aspirated

2,525 posts

82 months

Saturday 9th July 2016
quotequote all
It's a very rare thing these days, a car that doesn't make much sense

I think that's why I like it
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giveablondeabone

2,664 posts

91 months

Saturday 9th July 2016
quotequote all
Absolutely each to their own I say but not my bag.

Playing the Devil's advocate imagine one's chagrin being smoked at the lights by one of these in your newly purchased Focus RS or anything akin to.... smokin

For that alone it deserves a place in motordom for its silliness.

Somewhere.......


MDMA .

4,285 posts

37 months

Saturday 9th July 2016
quotequote all
My kind of car. 2.5 tubo suv. But 53k ! Who is buy these things ?

CharlieAlphaMike

211 posts

41 months

Saturday 9th July 2016
quotequote all
toppstuff said:
Not if you have dodgy knees and prefer a high driving position - or prefer a high driving position anyway.

Just because you want a small SUV does not mean you have to put up with a boring diesel, does it?
Save yourself £20K and buy a Golf R (or equivalent) and a cushion + a 2nd hand Range Rover (with a petrol V8) for when you really want to utilise the true capabilities of an SUV.

Reavenger

108 posts

69 months

Saturday 9th July 2016
quotequote all
The exhaust looks hilarious in the pictures and seeing it in the flesh recently, made me laugh even more. Reminds me of the Subaru exhausts of the early 2000's. Incredibly out of place in today's exhaust line ups..redcard

Dave Hedgehog

10,010 posts

140 months

Saturday 9th July 2016
quotequote all
Fantastic engine and the raised height / ride makes sense in the SE with the ever deteriating roads and multiplying sleeping policemen

But it's such a boring looking car, far too much Q car for me, the GLA looks a hundred times better IMO

mikey k

12,033 posts

152 months

Saturday 9th July 2016
quotequote all
aspirated said:
It's a very rare thing these days, a car that doesn't make much sense

I think that's why I like it
yes would make a good work car!

dc2rr07

1,019 posts

167 months

Saturday 9th July 2016
quotequote all
Reavenger said:
The exhaust looks hilarious in the pictures and seeing it in the flesh recently, made me laugh even more. Reminds me of the Subaru exhausts of the early 2000's. Incredibly out of place in today's exhaust line ups..redcard
It could maybe do with an exhaust on both sides but otherwise looks fine to me how many exhausts do you think it should have.

sasha320

258 posts

184 months

Saturday 9th July 2016
quotequote all
Single pipe exhaust, reason enough to simply turn away...

Richair

1,019 posts

133 months

Saturday 9th July 2016
quotequote all
toppstuff said:
CharlieAlphaMike said:
Pointless confused
Not if you have dodgy knees and prefer a high driving position - or prefer a high driving position anyway.

Just because you want a small SUV does not mean you have to put up with a boring diesel, does it?
Or you want something reasonably fun and capable to tow your race car... Small market I know, but if I could afford one I'd be all over one. But the point I'm making is some people need a car for practical reasons but still want it to be reasonably exciting, hence why there's a market for these. Although I'm sure most people just buy them for the badge!!

Ex X Power

73 posts

74 months

Saturday 9th July 2016
quotequote all
I dont know whether i should like this or not... I understand the giggle factor and nice tow car but at the same time I think buy a Forrester STi and put the £40k youve just saved towards pretty much whatever you want

cheddar

4,062 posts

110 months

Saturday 9th July 2016
quotequote all
sasha320 said:
Single pipe exhaust, reason enough to simply turn away...
I much prefer a subtle single pipe to the unnecessarily extrovert nonsense of 4 pot motors running quad tailpipes

the_hood

372 posts

130 months

Sunday 10th July 2016
quotequote all
Recently I only ever see RS Audis driven by knob ends, was that always the case?

Dave Hedgehog

10,010 posts

140 months

Sunday 10th July 2016
quotequote all
CharlieAlphaMike said:
toppstuff said:
Not if you have dodgy knees and prefer a high driving position - or prefer a high driving position anyway.

Just because you want a small SUV does not mean you have to put up with a boring diesel, does it?
Save yourself £20K and buy a Golf R (or equivalent) and a cushion + a 2nd hand Range Rover (with a petrol V8) for when you really want to utilise the true capabilities of an SUV.
not everybody wants a very very dull engine that needs a fake noise speaker to try and give it some soul regardless of how big the stats make your dick in pub bragging rights

the mecan GTS with its biturbo v6 would be a far better choice than the Q3 in a comparable package

Edited by Dave Hedgehog on Sunday 10th July 09:55

dc2rr07

1,019 posts

167 months

Sunday 10th July 2016
quotequote all
the_hood said:
Recently I only ever see RS Audis driven by knob ends, was that always the case?
Yes, Audi make you sit an exam before giving you the keys even when it is for your wife rolleyes

VeegasRS6

362 posts

93 months

Sunday 10th July 2016
quotequote all
I've had my RS Q3 for 3 weeks, bought approved used through an Audi dealer, replacing my V10 Audi RS6 and I've found it to be a fantastic all rounder.

To answer one of the points, how manys approach the edge of performance, there is one here and I've found it to be very predictable and neutral as you progressively give it more beans.

The best bit is the noise, the 5 cylinder warble is very addictive and the performance is more than ample, although they very easily remap to 410ps.

Coupled with that, I've just moved from East Sussex to Somerset, and over the 190 odd mile journey, loaded upto the gunwales with stuff and 2 dogs, I got over 36mpg (correctly worked out, not on the OBC).

Gratuitous photo