Audi RS Q3 review : One of the fastest small SUVs you can buy

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  • Makes a great sound
  • Unassuming looks
  • Fast acceleration


  • Not great value
  • Doesn’t handle like a sports car
  • Poorly equipped

The Audi RS Q3 is the German carmaker’s first SUV to get the high-performance RS treatment. It’s a very niche car and doesn’t have a lot of rivals, but the Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 and thePorsche Macan S are similar in price and pace. Even the slowerRange Rover Evoque Si4 is a worthy alternative because it’s equally capable in the corners.

The best part about the RS Q3 is that it shares the characterful five-cylinder engine with the RS3. With a broad spread of pulling power and an addictive soundtrack, the engine is more usable than the four-cylinders found in rivals. After a mid-life facelift in 2015, the gearbox shifts quicker and the engine got an extra 29hp to bump it up to 335hp. This brought the already fast 0-62mph time down by two tenths to a very impressive 4.8 seconds. Top speed is limited to 155mph.

On the road it’s another pleasant surprise – the RS Q3 is firm but never as uncomfortable as RS cars used to be. Stick it in the Comfort driving mode and it’s perfectly comfortable for long journeys. The same can’t be said for the firm-riding GLA 45.

Inside, it’s typical Audi fare with little RS touches here and there. Quality is impeccable, but to replace some of the cheaper plastics with carbon-fibre inlays is a £250/$375 option. And this is generally the theme in the interior – the more you spend on options the better it looks and feels.

For a top-of-the-range RS model, the small Audi is quite poorly equipped – a Bluetooth phone connection and leather sports seats are just about the only kit that stands out, but even those you can get as standard in cheaper crossovers.

Audi RS Q3 passenger space

For a small SUV, the RS Q3 is pretty spacious. Despite having five seats, it’s much more usable as a four-seater because the middle rear seat is quite narrow and the transmission tunnel on the floor takes up lots of leg room. The sloping roofline can also be a problem for passengers taller than six feet and the narrow opening for the small rear doors doesn’t help with graceful entry and exit, either.

In the front, the driver and passenger are treated to large sport seats that hug you tightly in place, but never feel as hard as those in the GLA 45. There’s plenty of manual adjustment to the seat and steering wheel so it’s easy to get a good driving position. As part of the 2015 facelift, the driver’s seat was dropped by 15mm and testers liked the improvement saying you now feel you sit in the seat instead of on top of it.

Audi RS Q3 boot space

The RS Q3 is more practical than the RS3 thanks to a bigger, 420-litre, boot – 55 more than in the hatchback. The boot lid is electrically operated and the opening wide, with a relatively low lip – this means it’s relatively easy to haul heavy loads into the back of the car. Fold the rear seats flat and you’re left with 1,365 litres of space. For comparison the GLA 45 is more spacious with the seats up (480 litres) but less so with them folded down (1,235 litres). And while the Porsche Macan has a bigger boot altogether at 500-1,500 litres, the Evoque is the luggage king here with 575-1,400 litres of boot space.


If you’re still confused about whether this is a jacked-up hatchback that can go fast or a lowered SUV that can go fast, don’t worry, we haven’t figured it out either. We don’t think Audi really knows either, but what we have here is an RS car that does what we expect it to – it offers huge performance, under-the-radar styling and a dash of luxury.

In terms of rivals, the Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 is sharper and more engaging to drive and the Porsche Macan S is equally capable, but more expensive. Ultimately, as an all-rounder, the RS Q3 is best. However, the Audi RS3 hatchback is cheaper and better to drive and uses the same addictive engine as the RS Q3 – and that’s likely the best alternative to this fast SUV oddity.




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