Audi RSQ3 Pocket-Rocket SUV

Audi Q3RS, MHH International
If Audi see the tiniest gap in the car market they clearly feel compelled to fill it. Buyers of the more enthusiastic style of small hot hatch are already catered for by the German brand's brilliant RS3. Thus it seems to me that to make, effectively, a taller version of the same thing seems wilfully pointless. So why do we at MHH International love the Audi RSQ3 Performance so?

It’s been around for a while, the difference now is in the important word 'Performance' tacked on the end of its name. Essentially, some extra power has been added to the latest version to make it the equal in terms of performance to the vertically challenged – by comparison – regular RS3 Sportback.


AUdi RSQ3, MHH International

Packed With Pocket Power


This extra power (362bhp, up by 27bhp on the standard RSQ3) has been secured from the bowels of the 2.5L turbo five-cylinder engine by way of extra cooling from the radiator, a modified fuel pump and new mapping, all of which combine to reduce the 62mph traffic light sprint time to a sprightly 4.4 seconds. Not bad for what is, essentially, a crossover. In short, this diminutive motor can really crack on, all the way to 155mph. Where permitted, obviously.


In addition to this extra grunt, the RSQ3 Performance gets a darker, more subdued exterior look and is mounted on bespoke 20” alloys. The test car featured in our images was painted in a gorgeous metallic Ascari Blue that the recent rare spell of dull weather really does not do justice to. To the uninitiated, the car looks to be standard 'crossover' fare until, that is, it takes off up the road like reluctant dog at bath time.


RSQ3 Interior, MHH International

Road Power


Typically for these days the steering doesn't offer much in the way of feedback and, perhaps surprisingly in a 4x4 (yes, it is a quattro), the Audi RSQ3 has a tendency to slight understeer at the limit. In any case – and rather highlighting the point of wondering why this car was built in RS form – with the extra height it cannot compete with its hatchback sibling on a tight, twisty road. Still, the tall one has pretty good handling qualities and retains a comfortable ride despite the performance additions.


The trusted S-Tronic auto 'box makes its customary appearance and as ever doesn't let the driver down. It cries out to be set in manual shift via the well-sited paddles and locked onto 'Dynamic' mode. With lowered suspension added to the mix, the action, to use the cliché, is fast and furious.


RDQ3 rear seats, MHH International

The Interior


The downside, if you can call it that, is with interior space. The Audi RSQ3 clearly doesn't have the space of its larger Q-car siblings especially in the back seat, although the exquisitely quilted seats are very comfortable and supportive as you would expect from this brand.


The lofty driving position brings visual advantages when driving at speed cross-country down narrow lanes with high hedgerows and the like. Give the car its due, it was on wider, flowing roads where the Audi RSQ3 Performance really showed its mettle. It is astonishingly quick. As is to be expected, the interior is typically Audi with all the usual toys and devices encapsulated in a high quality environment.


Although the collecting driver almost had to wrestle me to the ground for the keys, the question has to be asked, ‘who this car is for’? It's okay for a family but the boot is adequate rather than huge so the family will have to be small and generally get on well with each other. It is not a tow car because you'd want diesel power for that. Is it an empty nester's car? Maybe. Spend the kids' inheritance on an expensive and powerful motor (and fully loaded it costs over £50,000 new in the UK)? It all depends upon how you feel about the crossover / SUV revolution. And your children.


Audi offers something for everyone but I doubt you will ever see the Audi RSQ3 Performance in vast numbers. But if you are out and about in the countryside and hear a sound like a rocket ship coming up fast behind you can fully expect to feel a touch of envy in that he's got one and you haven't.


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