Audi RS Q3 TFSI quattro S Tronic Review
Rambunctious Fiver

Words and Photos by Clifford Chow
27 Aug 2021
 

One of the very best engines Audi has built, is its oddball two-and-a-half litre five-cylinder, which has become synonymous with entry high-performance Audis...

If you like performance cars that simply fly under the radar, the Audi RS Q3 could just be the car for you. With SUV fever at a high, there is often a high-performance variant available in every luxury model range to suit your fancy and (maybe) budget. The Audi RS Q3 has direct competition from the likes of the Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 S 4MATIC+, which interestingly, like the Audi, also flies under the radar.

The second generation Audi Q3 which the new RS Q3 is based on, is larger than the vehicle it replaces, and it is much prettier too. The larger body size, incidentally takes the Q3 further away in terms of size from the entry Audi Q2.

While the Audi RS Q3, while somewhat understated in styling, does get a little body bling, in the form of a larger honeycombed front-end. Our test car also gets optional and almost too large 255/35 tyres on 21” rims which unavoidably disrupts the car’s proportions. At the rear, quad exhaust pipes, with each pair wrapped with a signature oval chrome surround, are telltale indicators of Audi’s RS treatment. A revised suspension also adds to a slightly wider track and moderately reduced ride height. 

Inside

Like the regular Q3, the RS-badged car’s interior is tastefully sculpted and well-equipped. Audi’s MMI Navigation Plus with MMI touch, supports both Apple and Android mobile devices, and you also get a mobile charging box to keep your device juiced up.

The Audi Virtual Cockpit Plus, is highly customisable, and features the signature “hockey stick” rev counter graphics, associated with RS badged cars. Our test vehicle also gets red Alcantara accents (this is my favourite part of the interior), which also finds its way onto the sides of the nappa leather RS sport seats, and matches well with the rest of the car’s red stitching.

The high-performance Audi also has a practical side, with passengers at the rear being able to enjoy quality leg room, and seats featuring the same honeycomb seat stitching seen in the front. If versatility is one high on your checklist, cargo space for its compact footprint at 530 litres, is significantly larger than the AMG GLA’s 435 litres.

The Drive

One of the very best engines Audi has built, is its oddball two-and-a-half litre five-cylinder, which has become synonymous with entry high-performance Audis. We like that Audi has carried on with this tradition of odd-firing gratification, which began when they decided that this arrangement, together with AWD, and sticking someone known as Stig inside, was the way to go in notorious Group B rally domination.

The current iteration of the engine, which now produces 400hp and 480Nm, benefits from a few tweaks. It features a weight-saving hollowed out crank, and a significantly lighter aluminium crankcase. Overall, the reworked engine is now 26kg lighter, helping to reduce the weight especially in the front-end.

The odd-firing engine, paired together with a sports exhaust, delivers a unique burble like no other, and under acceleration, would seem somewhat like an uneven-sounding four cylinder engine till around 3,000rpm. Beyond that, the 5-cyl’s engine note begins to develop into a chilling roar, which you can take up to 7,000rpm. The 7-speed S Tronic, does a fine job of shifting through gears quickly, and with each shift, the exhaust lets off an immediate ‘BRAAP!’, reassuring you that you have already hopped into the next gear.

The RS Q3’s delivery of torque is quite instantaneous, meaning that it is responsive in start-stop situations, and unlike some high-performance vehicles where you will find that when in their highest dynamic drive mode, which would tend to get quite ungainly, the five-potter Audi on the other hand, remains remarkably easy to operate.

Perhaps what hits home for me, is how rigid the MQB architecture, which essentially is found in Volkswagen Group’s compact cars really is. In the RS Q3, I appreciate this especially when pitching it around more squiggly roads, where I experience no creaks from within. 

The RS-badged Q3 feels remarkably planted around corners, and the quattro AWD ensures that the wheels bite even more, where grip can be found. A progressive steering also means that it reacts very quickly to your inputs, great when that tight bend you are taking suddenly tightens more.

Away from the two-stage RS drive modes, the compact Audi SUV is about as easy to cruise around town as with a regular car it is based on, and in-cabin refinement is further enhanced by the acoustic glazing on the windscreen. Perhaps the larger rims and less sidewall are a reminder that you are driving something that is truly quite spectacular. 

Verdict

The Audi RS Q3 is a high-performance compact-sized car that is practical for day-to-day use in a built-up country like ours. The flexible 5-cylinder shines in both city driving, and opening up its lungs on the highway.

In Summary

We Like

Small SUV footprint, big performance. Refined. Excellent interior. 5-cylinder engine is absolute magic.

We Don't

List of options can get very expensive.

Verdict

Small SUV footprint, big performance, also big on refinement.

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Engine

Engine Capacity 2480cc
Engine Type Inline 5
Compression Ratio 10:1
Bore x Stroke (82.5 x 92.8)mm
Power 395bhp @ 5850rpm
Torque 480Nm @ 1950rpm
Power to Weight 230.3 bhp per ton

Performance

Acceleration 4.5s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 250 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 11.1 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 7 -speed S Tronic
Drive Type F4
Steering Electric

Measurements

Body Type SUV
Dimension
(L x W x H)
(4506 x 1851 x 1602) mm
Wheelbase 2681 mm
Kerb Weight 1715 kg
Boot Capacity 530 L
Boot Capacity (folded) 1525 L
Fuel Tank Capacity 63 L

Brakes

Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Ventilated Discs