Audi is pushing hard on the high-performance versions of just about every car in its increasingly comprehensive range. The latest version of the RS Q3, with ‘Performance’ added to its title joins the RS6 and RS7 Performance models introduced to Australia in the latter half of 2016.
Note that the Audi RS Q3 Performance SUV replaces the RS Q3, rather than being an added model above it. Aussies like their quick cars and anything other than the quickest of them all is simply not on their shopping list.
Audi tells us the percentage of Australians buying the quick versions of its cars is increasing rapidly. Priced at $84,216 plus on-road charges this RS is reasonable value in this high-performance prestige market segment.
Audi RS Q3 Performance has been facelifted and tail tucked to differentiate it from the standard model it supersedes. A larger front bumper and a aggressive diffuser-look rear certainly add to the overall stance.
The latest RS theme is based around a titanium-look; the single-frame grille, is visually even sharper in its corners; similarly with the lower-grille surrounds; the 20-inch alloys (up from 19s); door mirrors and subtle other small locations all carry titanium touches.
The red brake calipers sit inside the titanium-look alloy wheels and certainly add to the visuals.
Audi RS Q3 Performance has a redesigned dash. Unfortunately our favourite feature in the new generation Audis, the virtual cockpit, isn’t offered in this older platform. We will have to wait for the all-new Q3 series, probably in 2018 before that can be installed.
The flat-bottomed steering wheel has been redesigned and the stitched look has a sporty flair to it.
ENGINE / TRANSMISSION
This Audi 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbocharged powerplant continues to dominate its class, where 2.0-litre turbocharged fours are the norm. It’s an oldie but a goodie – there’s no substitute for cubic inches.
Higher turbo boost and changes to overall engine tune, made by the RennSport organisation, are responsible for the added urge in the Performance version of the Q3. Peak power has risen from 250 kW to 270 kW, with torque has gone up from 450 Nm to 465.
Torque is particularly impressive in reaching its max at just 1625 revs and remaining at that level until 5500 rpm.
The Audi MMI system has Bluetooth interface and the Audi music interface (AMI), MMI navigation plus and a Bose 14-speaker sound system. The rotary pushbutton can be rocked like a joystick for additional control of the multiple functions. The 7.0-inch monitor displays the graphics and the navigation map in 3D.
Numerous high-tech driver assist systems make the chances of having a crash remote. Should you, or someone else, still cause havoc you’re protected by a car that easily attained five-star safety testing status.
The seats are serious items as they’re semi-race in their shape to provide support in hard driving. On longer runs they were rather hard on our backsides, but we guess that if you drive a car with Performance in its title then performance has to take precedence over comfort.
The back seat is reasonable comfortable in the space they provide but this is a small-medium SUV and there’s never going to be the sort of stretch out room big brother Q7 offers.
When we drove the Audi RS Q3 Performance during the media launch in Albury to Bright regions of the lower Snowy Mountain areas we struck near monsoon conditions. Rain drenched the countryside and there was flood damage everywhere.
The harsh conditions let the hot Q3 demonstrate its ability on roads that could have been dangerous to 2WD vehicles. Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive was able to tame the added power of the Performance package. Several times we saw the flashing light on the dash indicating that the electronics were stepping in to keep things under control.
Audi’s claimed zero to 100 km/h figure of 4.4 seconds felt achievable. That’s a very significant 0.4 seconds better than the superseded RS Q3. Launch control is needed to get that time. Ultra-fast changes in the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission certainly play their part.
Around town on our most recent test the RS Q3 was surprisingly tractable considering its performance potential. It’s happy to trundle along in slow traffic and the occasional squirt off green lights was always enjoyable. It might sound childish, but there’s something enjoyable about surprising young hotshot drivers in warmed over WRXs the way to get off the line in a dark-grey SUV…
The RS Q3 does like a drink, around town it was usually consuming about 11 to 15 litres of 98 octane and nine to ten litres on motorways is nothing special these days.
Small hot hatches, which is almost the Audi RS Q3’s category, are delightful to drive. The Audi’s light weight and huge power and torque probably put it to the head of the field in our eyes. It’s not cheap, but neither is it outrageously expensive.