Audi RS Q3 (2014) Review

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The Audi RS Q3 is the first SUV Audi has sought fit to graft on an RS badge. That’s right there’s no RS Q5 or RS Q7. The Q3 is also the youngest and smallest of Audi’s Q cars so the RS badging is most likely an attempt to be first into the niche market of sports compact utility vehicles or SCUV as the segment may become known.


The engine in this Audi RS Q3 is revived from the Audi TT RS and the Audi RS3. The five-cylinder turbo has been a little down-tuned to 228 kW with 420 Nm, but don’t think that makes it any less stupidly fast. Even with the slightly higher driving position that gives you more perspective, the RS Q3 still squashes you into the leather seats and makes you laugh. SUVs or even SCUVs aren’t meant to be able to thrash a hot hatch and embarrass a chap in a low-slung sports car, but this one can.

In a sprint from 0-100kph the RS Q3 will take just 5.2 seconds and continue that crazy acceleration until you look at the speedo and realise that these speeds are full-on crazy and illegal. It’s then that the intensely sharp brakes make themselves known as they rapidly decelerate the car from the very top inch of the pedal press.

Compromised Ride

Power and the ability to cope with it does come at a cost however, and the optional Audi 20-inch alloy wheels and low profile tyres (255/35) are quite annoying on a less than snooker table smooth surface. On a freeway drive out of Cape Town to Somerset West the corrugations on the freeway were felt right through the cabin whilst on smooth tarmac you get to enjoy the firmer, RS tuned dampers without the spine jolts. Definitely choose the smaller 18 or 19-inch wheels with the higher profile if you prefer a bit more smoothness to your ride.

Handles what you throw at it

Take the harsh ride out of the equation and you have a tenaciously grippy vehicle here. The RS Q3 corners extremely well. As you spy a corner you want to nail, look at the apex, tramp the throttle, turn in, and the RS Q3 will drag itself around like it’s being magnetically sucked towards the corner apex.

Once you do get round the corner you’re not entirely sure how it happened though, the chassis of the RS Q3 lies particularly flat during the cornering but the steering and front end feel is quite numb. It’s entirely safe if a little bit uninvolving.

Special Touches

Whilst an RS Audi model is mostly about speed, the exterior and interior always feature a few neat touches just to spice things up so that they stand out from the crowd. The RS Q3 is already lowered by 25 mm from standard Q3 guise and has a special honeycombed grille at the front with ‘quattro’ written at the bottom.

There’s also just one exhaust pipe for this RS model but when you flip the Audi’s ride select into dynamic mode then the pipes open up with a special, heart-fluttering rasp that reminds you of the special engine that lurks under the bonnet.

Inside the RS Q3 is crisp, clean and clutter free, the seats are emblazoned with RS Q3 logos and the dials are RS specific. Audi’s multimedia system is standard with a 14 speaker Bose sound system whilst also featuring satellite navigation.

Audi RS Q3 Conclusion and Price

Whilst it’s a full-size rocket ship the RS Q3 is also fun to hustle around the city if a little uninvolving. If you’re not careful it will guzzle all your fuel in one chomp whilst you’re having a laugh taking down all sorts of higher end sports machinery.

The ride on low profile tyres is intrusive but the added firmness from the RS dampers doesn’t make it a car too difficult to live with. If you’re going the practicality route then get a standard Q3 and you won’t have to pay the R713 000 that the RS Q3 commands. As a first attempt at a SCUV the Audi RS Q3 does an admirable job, benchmark set.

A Second Opinion

The Audi RS Q3 is a fun exercise in going over the top. Take the engine from an Audi RS3 and shoe horn it into the baby Q3 SUV. The result is a pricey and entertaining way to take the kids to school. Logic suggests this is not a sensible car, but since when have the fun cars ever been sensible? -David Taylor

Audi RS Q3 quick specs

Engine  2.5-litre five cylinder turbo petrol
Power  228 kW
Torque  420 Nm
Transmission  Seven-speed S-Tronic
Wheels  20-inch alloys
0-100km/h  5.2 seconds (claimed)
Fuel economy  8.8 l/100km (claimed)
We like: . Break-neck speed in an SUV . Fun handler if uninvolving . Great exhaust note

We dislike: . Harsh ride on low profiles . Thirsty when you push it (you will) . Pricey

Also consider: . Mercedes-Benz GLA . Mini Countryman JCW ALL4 . Porsche Macan S