Audi Q3 RSQ3

June 2014

picture of car from the front

The RSQ3 looks much more aggressive than the standard car

Ratings

Overall Rating 7Overall rating

Value for money Rating 6Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 5Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 7Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 8Controls and display

Comfort Rating 7Comfort

Security Rating 7Car security

Safety Rating 8Car safety


Likes

  • RS additions make the most of exterior shape
  • Characterful and powerful five-cylinder engine
  • Comfortable and practical cabin
  • High level of build quality throughout

Gripes

  • No sat-nav as standard despite price
  • Ride quality is reduced slightly by the stiffer suspension
  • High running costs and purchase price
  • Brakes occasionally noisy at low speed

Audi claims to have the widest range of performance models of any manufacturer and claim has even more weight thanks to the introduction of the RSQ3. With almost every model in the Audi range available in S or hotter RS form, or both, it should be no surprise that the German firm has created possibly the only high performance small SUV currently on sale in the UK.

The Q3 in standard form is the smallest of Audi's three-tier SUV range yet it shares many of the familiar styling cues from its bigger brothers and elsewhere in the range. It also has particularly close links with the A1, sharing some of its hardware with the supermini.

However this is the smallest car to have the RS badge applied to it, which in the past has only appeared on some of the most expensive and fastest models found anywhere in the range. It is also the only one of the 4x4 Q models to be turned into an RS model. That means substantial upgrades to the engine, suspension and design both inside and out.

The key difference for the RS Q3 is the installation of the five-cylinder turbocharged petrol unit already seen in previous generations of the RS3 and TT RS models. That gives it substantially more power than any of the other petrol or diesel offerings in the range. It is also fitted with the seven-speed dual clutch gearbox as standard, and sends drive to all four wheels.

The RSQ3 clearly stands out from its more humble counterparts on account of its large diameter alloy wheels as standard, broad chrome grille, silver-finished bodykit and a pair of RSQ3 badges to mark it out. There are some subtle changes in the cabin too; most notably the heavily-bolstered sports seats and the flat-bottomed steering wheel.

Our verdict on the Audi Q3 RSQ3

The RSQ3 is unquestionably a niche product as the market for high performance SUVs of this size is relatively small, but it does a fine job of delivering engaging and entertaining performance without creating too many compromises as a family car. The only question mark is the purchase price and fuel consumption, but assuming these issues aren't significant the RSQ3 has a niche all to itself.

Costs
Costs rating 5

Running costs are likely to be the biggest stumbling block for the RSQ3. Despite features such as automatic stop/start and the slick S tronic gearbox, fuel consumption is relatively high even when driven with care. Insurance costs are also likely to be high, and the purchase price is significantly above other Q3 models.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 7

The RSQ3 makes the most of its relatively modest proportions and has no less space than a regular Q3. All cabin occupants have decent head and legroom, although taller drivers may want to do without the optional sunroof as it does reduce headroom a fraction. In the rear full-size adults will be comfortable, but seating a tall person behind another may leave the rear occupant a little short of space. The boot is also a generous size with the option of folding the rear seats to create a large and long load area.

picture of car from the rear

Large diameter alloy wheels are fitted as standard

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 8

As with the regular Q3, the RSQ3 uses a good deal of familiar switchgear and instrumentation from elsewhere in the Audi range which is no bad thing. The dashboard layout is clear and attractive while the standard display screen and control system is easy to operate and understand. Arguably the highest spec models have so many menus and systems it takes a little while to become fully familiar with them all, but it is as straightforward as it could be.

Comfort
Comfort Rating 7

Even though the RSQ3 has stiffer suspension and bigger wheels than the standard car it is only slightly less comfortable. Noise levels are well managed although there can be a little brake squeal at low speeds, and the ride quality is barely impacted. An improvement over the standard car are the sports seats, which offer excellent support and comfort.

Car security
Security Rating 7

The RSQ3 is fitted with an approved alarm and immobiliser system for a high level of security, and anyone seeking extra protection can raid the options list for a tracking device. Tinted rear windows and a useful luggage cover will also help to keeping prying eyes at bay.

Car safety
Safety Rating 8

The RSQ3 has a very high level of safety, with eight airbags, ESP and automatic activation of headlights and wipers. Extra security is provided by the Quattro four-wheel drive, uprated brakes and increased grip from the larger tyres. Options include blind spot and lane departure warning systems which provide the highest level of safety assistance available in the class.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 8

Despite the somewhat odd notion of a performance SUV the RSQ3 manages to pull it off. Driven in normal conditions it is virtually as easy to drive as the standard car, save for the large amount of torque which requires a gentle touch when pulling away. With Audi's Drive Select the car can be switched from Comfort mode to Dynamic, sharpening the throttle response and steering and increasing the amount of noise from the exhaust. When driven with more vigour the RSQ3 is grippy and fun, although it is understandably not as dynamic as some other Audis wearing the RS badge.

picture of car interior

Flat-bottomed steering wheel is unique to RS models

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 7

Despite the extra performance the RSQ3 still has the ability to perform family duties. Good space for passengers and luggage, a good view out from all the seats and the option of high-quality audio should keep all ages happy. The cabin is made up of tough but well-finished materials which will no doubt survive the onslaught of small children.

First car appeal
First car Rating 3

The RSQ3 is sufficiently docile and easy to drive that a novice could use it without too much trepidation, but it is the purchase price and insurance costs that put it outside the scope of most new drivers.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 7

A high level of quality is taken as read with any modern Audi and the RSQ3 feels worthy of its price tag. Fit and finish are excellent and the materials used are of a very high standard. Despite their ubiquity Audis still have a strong image and are considered a desirable car, while the RSQ3 has the added cache of that famous badge.

Accessibility
Accessibility Rating

The RSQ3 has a high ride height but its overall height is relatively modest so climbing aboard is straightforward. Front and rear seats will be at the right height for most people, while the boot floor is also at a comfortable height. Although rear space is relatively average there is sufficient space in the footwells and decent door apertures for those in the rear.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

The standard offering in the RSQ3 offers a DAB radio with SD card and MP3 player input with 10 speakers, while there are two further upgrades available including a full Bang and Olufsen system, WiFi hotspot and full Google Earth sat-nav imaging.

picture of car in detail

Five-cylinder engine is characterful and very flexible

Colours and trim

Unlike lesser Q3s the RSQ3 looks best in brighter shades that make the most of the exterior changes - in more sober shades it looks more like a standard Q3, save for the bigger wheels. Inside the standard leather means a relatively dark cabin but this is no bad thing - a choice of detail trim adds more brightness if required.

Parking

A high seating position and good visibility means straightforward parking, while rear parking sensors are standard across the range. The optional upgraded parking system can include front sensors or even a rear-view camera, and with the full parking assist in place it is the work of a moment to get the RSQ3 into position.

Spare wheel

Emergency tyre repair kit supplied as standard.

 

Range information

Petrol engine options - 1.4-litre (148bhp); 2.0-litre (168bhp, 208bhp); 2.5-litre (306bhp). Diesel engine options - 2.0-litre (138bhp and 175bhp). Transmission options: six-speed manual fitted to lower output models, seven-speed dual clutch automatic fitted to higher output models. Trim levels: SE, S line, S line Plus, RSQ3.

 

Alternative cars

BMW X1 No outright performance version but good driving dynamics in M Sport guise.

Volkswagen Tiguan Sportier variants can't match the pace of the Audi despite some shared components

Mini Countryman John Cooper Works More of a high-riding hatch but is a genuine performance car

Mercedes-Benz GLA AMG Key rival offers huge performance and impressive handling, similarly high price



Over 1,200 more car reviews online

All the reports since 1990 are available on this site, just search by make and model below.

Step 1 > Select make Alfa Romeo    Aston Martin    Audi    Austin    BMW    Bentley    Cadillac    Caterham    Chevrolet    Chrysler    Citroen    Daewoo    Daihatsu    Dodge    Ferrari    Fiat    Ford    Honda    Hyundai    Isuzu    Jaguar    Jeep    Kia    Lada    Lamborghini    Lancia    Land Rover    Lexus    Lotus    MG    MINI    Maserati    Mazda    Mercedes-Benz    Mitsubishi    Nissan    Perodua    Peugeot    Porsche    Proton    Renault    Rolls-Royce    Rover    SEAT    Saab    Skoda    Smart    Smart Car    Ssangyong    Subaru    Suzuki    Toyota    Vauxhall    Volkswagen    Volvo    Yugo   

 

June 2014