Is the Audi RS Q3 Sportback a baby Urus?
I test the Audi RS Q3 Sportback in Dubai.
This is the all-new Audi RS Q3 Sportback. Audi's claim to the perfect one car garage from the cheaper end of their spectrum. Will it be able to live up to the RennSport name like its bigger siblings, such as the RS Q8 and RS6? We find out in the article.
Does it remind you of the small dinosaur from Jurrasic Park?
When I first saw the car somewhere around early 2021 at the launch event in Dubai, that was pretty much my first thought. It reminded me of the Compsognathus (the tiny little cute dinosaur that hunts in packs). And the characteristics of that dinosaur were intelligent, observant, pack animals, the ability to pretend they were cute until they could viciously attack and kill their prey. The RS Q3 fits the exact above description.
The bright and funky colours suit the Q3 Sportback, and they definitely suit the RS Q3 Sportback. I had multiple people on the road pull up next to me and give me the thumbs up. Even had randoms kids hurrying to take out their phones to snap pictures of the RS Q3 in Kyalami Green colour. Many non-car people will confuse it for a baby version of the Lamborghini Urus.
Audi has redesigned the front to give it a more aggressive look and so that people can differentiate it from the regular Q3. The front has a brand new 3D Singleframe honeycomb front grille which sits lower than the standard Q3. The flared wheel arches and RS spec front bumper are unique to this car.
The metal looks tightly pulled towards the rear, where the D pillar culminates into the Sportback styling. At the D pillar, the rear wheel arches flare into an aggressive squarish Urus type styling, with the low, sporty roofline adding more aggression and character to the mix. The windows are frameless, which add to the sporty character of the car. The entire silhouette of the car is very purposeful and aggressive.
RS Q3 Sportback comes for the first time with a dual-branch RS exhaust system with large oval tailpipes on both sides. This exhaust system sits in an RS-specific bumper with a rear diffuser and horizontal blades. The RS sports exhaust is an added option with the full matrix LED headlights as well. My test car came with external blacked-out bits and the interior and exterior carbon fibre trim. It also had the optional 21-inch rims. Standard being 20 inchers.
Does it have the performance to match the looks?
Oh, for sure! The RS Q3 Sportback comes with the same 5-cylinder, 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine from the TT RS. It produces around 400 HP in the above configuration and does 0-100 KPH in around 4.5 seconds.
One of the unique aspects of the RS Q3 is the engine sound. This is due to the firing sequence of 1-2-4-5-3, and the odd number of cylinders makes for an extraordinary rhythm and unique engine sound. To record exhaust sound, we actually put our video guy in the boot and drove around.
The engine on this car has been voted "International Engine of the Year" nine times in a row since 2010.
The RS Q3 gets a seven-speed S Tronic AWD system with Audi's legendary Quattro system. Power is managed efficiently, and the car feels fast. It has enough grip and handles decently. In straight-line acceleration, the front has quite a bit of torque steer. At the bends, the turn-in is good; however, when you start pushing it through the corner, the car understeers. It is a fast and engaging enough drive, but nothing that is going to give you goosebumps and make you want to yell out on your WhatsApp group, "wow, what a car!!".
The RS Q3 also comes with sport suspension, which lowers the car by 10 mm, giving it that improved stance. You can even spec it with the optional Dynamic Chassis Control(DCC). Being a true RS car, it comes with various driving modes and the RS button on the steering wheel, which gives you the exact performance setup you want.
The gearbox is what I felt let down by. It did not feel fast enough and always had to be controlled via the paddle shifters to make sure you are in the correct gear.
You can option ceramic brakes if you feel like tracking the car, and the callipers can be painted in multiple colours as per your choice.
Does it feel luxurious enough on the inside?
This is personally where I felt let down the most. The build quality is at par with Audi standards and other German manufacturers. But there are cheap bits and pieces of plastics/trim that can be easily spotted and found, which reduce that premium car feeling. Also, the car needs some colour contrast in the interiors. The test car came with a fully blacked-out interior which is just no fun.
The entire centre console is rotated by 10 degrees towards the driver giving that driver-oriented interior feel.
Talking about infotainment, it comes with the easy to use and brilliant Audi MMI system. Apple Car Play and Android Auto are standard as well. Unlike its bigger and more expensive brethren, the RS Q3 does not get the second digital screen that controls all the HVAC systems other features. However, it does the brilliant 3D MMI digital cockpit.
The RS flat-bottom steering is a delight to use. It has a near-perfect size with enough heft and feel. The car also comes with multiple safety features and a premium Bang & Olufsen.
The car can easily seat four. Seating five comfortably will be a challenge. I had some friends from Germany join me on the drive and shoot. They being 6 feet in height, were happy to sit at the back and enjoy the drive. Legroom was never the issue, but it was the headroom that was the cause of concern for them. The rear seats can recline and slide, making sure you find the most comfortable seating position at the back.
Is it worth buying?
At the price point of $78,000, there is a lot of competition out there. However, very few cars can match the performance, dynamics and space the Audi RS Q3 Sportback has to offer, making it one of the most affordable family-oriented performance cars on the market. It is a must-try before you make your buying decision.