Mention the letters ‘RS’ to an Audi aficionado and watch their eyes light up like a pair of bi-xenons on a pitch-black night. And those eyes could be widened by the news that joining the German auto maker’s elite RS high performance family is the first variant to come in priced under a hundred grand.

The RS Q3 joins the likes of the RS 5, RS 7 Sportback, TT RS, and RS 4 and RS 6 Avant wagons, pumping extra get-up-and-go into the compact sport utility vehicle segment, all for $81,900.

Under the bonnet is Audi’s award winning five-cylinder engine, the 2.5 TFSI turbocharged direct injection motor, pumping out peak power of 228 kW between 5200 and 6700rpm and top torque of 420Nm from 1500 revs. A seven-speed S tronic double clutch transmission, plus quattro all-wheel drive, puts the power to ground.

The RS body has been buffed in keeping with the muscling-up of the Q3. For example, the RS bumper, quattro logo in the central air intake, aluminium roof rails, the long roof spoiler, the diffuser in the rear apron and the large, elliptical exhaust tailpipe, set the RS apart from its Q3 sibling. The body has been lowered by 25 mm, while the vehicle rolls on standard 19-inch wheels with 20-inch wheels an option.

Inside, it’s a similar story with black Nappa leather sports seats with contrasting stitching carrying RS Q3 logos. Instruments have grey dials with white numbers and red needles, while the multifunction steering wheel has a flat bottom. The pedals and foot rest stand out with an aluminium look.

Bluetooth and satellite navigation are standard and the Bose surround-sound system drives 14 speakers with up to 465W of power and, in conjunction with Multi-Media Interface navigation plus, can also play back recordings in 5.1 surround sound.
High-end vehicles these days invariable carry ‘Cinemascope’ versions of full-colour screens and the RS Q3 is no exception, boasting a high-resolution seven-inch screen that can be manually deployed. With a DVD drive, voice control, two SDHC card readers, Audi music interface for connecting to an external player and a Bluetooth interface, it covers all bases.
The 2.5 TFSI turbocharged direct injection motor, pumping out peak power of 228 kW between 5200 and 6700rpm and top torque of 420Nm from 1500 revs, puts the RS Q3 beyond any other small SUV in terms of performance, the sprint from rest to 100 km/h coming up in 5.2 sec on the way to a governed top speed of 250 km/h.

Audi claims combined urban / highway fuel consumption of 8.8 litres per 100 kilometres. Our test vehicle managed 12 L/100 km while reined in around town and 7.2 L/100 km on the motorway with some under-speed congestion.

On the safety front, Audi’s own tried-and-tested quattro permanent all-wheel drive system shifts power between the front and back. The majority of torque goes to the front wheels under normal driving conditions, shifting quickly towards the rear wheels when conditions deteriorate.

The electromechanical parking brake and hill holder are standard in the Audi RS Q3, while hill descent control is available as an option.
In keeping with today’s obsession with human / vehicle interconnectivity, the RS Q3 has a few ‘tricks’ of its own up the sleeve, most notably Drive Select. This system alloys the driver to dial in one of a range of driving modes – comfort, auto or dynamic – designed to match his or her mood by altering characteristics of the accelerator pedal and steering. The engine sound is also modified.
‘Comfort’ mode is altogether too comfortable, ‘Auto’ slavishly shadows driver input, while ‘Dynamic’ injects just the right kind of attitude in the RS rated Q3. Further sharpening can be had by flicking the electronic stability control system to Sport mode or disabling it completely.
Highly specified as it is in standard form, the RS Q3 can be made even more exclusive to owners with a range of cost options such as the RS Performance Package, Assistance Package, Aluminium Styling Package and Black High-Gloss Package.

For anybody with $82,000 to spend these can be highly attractive value-for-money add-ons. Add to this the almost magical influence of the letters ‘RS’ and this unique SUV is undoubtedly an eye opener.


Audi RS Q3 2.5 TFSI quattro S tronic: $81,900
Note: This price does not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Audi dealer for drive away prices.

RS high-performance brake system, wave disc design at the front (standard)
Xenon plus headlights with LED daytime running lights and LED tail lights (standard)
MMI Navigation plus with a high-resolution 7-inch colour display, 20 GB of hard drive storage and 2 SD card readers (standard)
Audi parking system plus with rear-view camera (standard)
Audi Music Interface, Bluetooth interface with audio streaming (standard)
Sports seats with Nappa leather and RS embossing (standard)
Electrically adjustable front seats with 4-way lumbar support (standard)
RS specific interior highlights

SPECIFICATIONS (Audi RS Q3 2.5 TFSI petrol engine))
Capacity: 2.480 litres
Configuration: Inline five-cylinder spark-ignition engine with gasoline direct injection, exhaust turbocharger with intercooler (maximum boost pressure is 2 bar absolute), four valves per cylinder, double overhead camshafts (DOHC)
Bore x Stroke: 82.5 mm x 92.8 mm
Compression Ratio: 10.0:1
Maximum Power: 228 kW @ 5200-6700 rpm
Maximum Torque: 420 Nm @ 1500-5200 rpm

Transmission: 7-speed S tronic; Dual clutch made up of two concentrically arranged wet single clutches; quattro permanent all-wheel drive with electronically controlled multi-plate clutch, electronic differential lock (EDL)

Length: 4410 mm
Width: 1841 mm (excluding mirrors)
Height: 1580 mm
Wheelbase: 2603 mm
Track: 1571 mm (front); 1577 mm (rear)
Kerb weight: 1655 kg
Gross weight limit: 2215 kg
Roof load limit: 75 kg
Cargo capacity: 356 litres; 1261 litres (rear seat folded)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 64 litres
Towing capacity: N/A
Turning circle: 11.8 m
Drag co-efficient, Cd: 0.33

Suspension: McPherson struts with aluminum lower wishbones, steel pivot bearings, aluminium subframe, tubular anti-roll bar, track-stabilizing steering roll radius (front); Four-link rear suspension with separate spring/shock absorber arrangement, subframe, aluminium wheel carriers, tubular anti-roll bar
Brakes: Dual-circuit brake system with diagonal split, electronic stabilisation control (ESC), hydraulic brake assist, disk brake (365x34mm) at front in wave
technology, perforated, ventilated, composite disk at rear (310x22mm) Brake
system: 18in with 8-piston fixed calliper / 17in with single-piston floating calliper
Steering: Electromechanical steering with speed-dependent power assist
Wheels: 8.5J x 19in alloy
Tyres: 255/40 R19

Acceleration 0 to 100 km/h: 5.2 seconds
Top speed: 250 km/h

Fuel type: 95 RON unleaded
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/01): 8.8 litres per 100 km. CO2 emissions 206 g / km
Emissions: Euro V

Greenhouse Rating: 6.0 / 10
Air Pollution Rating: 7.5 / 10

Three years / unlimited kilometres

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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