Verdict – This thing has many abilities some cars can’t even get close to. A lot of work has been put into this, but the designers clearly forgot the RS soul. A trip up for Audi here. 2.5/5
Has Audi’s RS division gone a step too far this time? When I first heard the news of this thing, I certainly thought so. And seeing it in the flesh? My opinion stands. However, I shall not be judgemental and put on my good journalist reviewers cap on and treat it as it was meant to be; a performance machine.
For sure, the figures are all there on paper. 0 – 60 should get done and dusted in 5.5 seconds and you will cruise to a top whack of the very German 155mph. This is all down to a detuned version of the 2.5l five pot last seen in the late RS3. You can be sure that there will be no Astra VXR’s or Focus ST’s troubling you on the lights in this.
|Sporty SUV or silly looking A3?|
Putting the 310bhp down isn’t too much of an issue too thanks to the Quattro system that Audi has starting getting rather shouty about recently on its cars. I mean, look at that front end! Funny how Audi have only just started boasting about Quattro now its rival brands have mastered the art of 4WD too now. You need look no further than the new AMG E-Class (albeit not available in the UK) too see 4WD is no longer an Audi speciality.
Despite the impressive figures, getting going doesn’t feel as fast as the figures suggest. I blame the tallish ride height but mainly I think I am physiologically influenced that this car is going slower than it really is due to its horribly dull interior. I am not saying it is bad, it is just too normal and that is not me just being a 15 year old teenager who wants neon and chrome everywhere. Put simply, passengers would never guess you are in a RS... until you put your foot down.
Ooh, it’s addictive alright. For sure, ecomentalists will want to burn you to a crisp and they will do so before you have the chance to explain to them that this car isn’t as bad on fuel as you might think. Acceptable would be a good word. Affordable for sure because if you spend the steep amount that is £43,000 on it (10 GRAND more than the faster S3), you could probably afford fuel too since money clearly means nothing to you if you are willing to pay eleven thousand pounds more over the range topper on a car that is hardly faultless in the first place! *Takes a deep breath* OK, I have finished raging.
Does it at least feel like you are driving an RS though? Well, kind of. The sound is there alright; emitting very rude pops and whumphs from the exhaust with the help of Audi Drive Select which allows you to change the exhaust note. The typical RS understeer is there too which has always been the reason why the RS range often falls behind Merc and BMW, but this is amplified since the Q3 is a car on stilts. You are always aware of this and because now it has had the RS treatment, it has got no off road ability at all. Almost certainly then you will start cursing yourself why you didn’t save a Ford Fiesta in money and plump for the equally impressive (and equally electronically dull) S3. I think I wouldn’t be able to bear the shame if it was me.
|Come on Audi, where's the sparkle?|
However, there are some upsides. The ride is actually really impressive, not soft but just a really good natural gliding ability over the bumps. It is a definite improvement over its fitter brother, the RS3 and what’s more you can still feel like the best driver in the world in this thing like many sporty Audi’s do. You turn the wheel at a corner at an insane speed and you can let the electronics sort it all out and get you round the corner with ease. Real, no, impressing your mates, yes. But that is what the RS division is all about; making people go “Wow!” Shame they just think you are an utter knob.
As a car then, it’s great. It’s comfortable, has a great pace, good quality, decent economy and has cornering talents. But this combination doesn’t really work when we are talking about an SUV. It feels odd, not worthy of the RS badge. It feels too watered down, not hunkered enough; even the interior is boring. Back to my original question at the start, even with my journalistic good mind in action, yes this step is too far. Back it up please, otherwise (god forbid) we will see an RS Q7. Audi, next time you make a special edition Q3, call it the Q3 ‘I-can-actually-do-some-off-roading’.
Audi RS Q3 Reviewed by Jack Cooper on 09:02 Rating: