Audi RS Q3 Review logo

Audi RS Q3 Review

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heycar review

      Launch year
      2020
      Body type
      Performance
      Fuel type
      Petrol
heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
“Characterful and sophisticated sporting SUV ”

Best bits

  • Brilliant engine
  • Distinctively sporty looks
  • Fairly practical

Not so great

  • Expensive to buy and run
  • Lacks driver involvement
  • Image is too aggressive for some

Read by

Audi RS Q3 Exterior Front

Overall verdict

Audi RS Q3 Interior

On the inside

Audi RS Q3 Driving Side

Driving

Audi RS Q3 Driving Back

How much does it cost to run

Audi RS Q3 Exterior Side

Prices, versions and specification

Overall verdict

"The Q3 is Audi’s second-smallest SUV, now into its second generation. And the cult success of a leftfield sporty version of the original, the RS Q3, has encouraged the marque to quickly launch a follow-up. Wisely, Audi has stuck to the original template, which proved such a guilty pleasure."

Audi RS Q3 Exterior Front

Under the bonnet sits the same star of the show: a 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo engine. This is a classic Audi configuration, made famous by the original Audi Quattro of the 1980s, and demonstrates all its burbly character in this latest application.


With 400PS, performance is startling, with 0-62mph taking just 4.5 seconds. Top speed in standard guise is 155mph, or you can pay extra to raise the speed limiter to 174mph. As for fuel economy, though, it’s best not to ask. Oh, go on then: less than 29mpg – and CO2 emissions top the 200g/km barrier.


You also can’t buy even a basic RS Q3 for less than £52,000, so it’s a big investment to make. But the ever-growing popularity of such performance SUVs, evidenced by rivals from BMW, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche, suggests that people aren’t shy in forking out. Indeed, Audi even offers a range-topping variant of the RS Q3 called Vorsprung, which it expects to be popular, that costs more than £60,000.


Suitably aggressive styling comes as standard. The latest Audi Q3 is already a sharper, more angular machine than the original, and the RS Q3 turns the dial up further. There are huge gloss black air intakes in the front bumper, massive 20-inch alloys and gigantic dual exhausts poking out of the large rear diffuser.


The RS Q3 sits 10mm lower than a regular Audi Q3, and the options list includes plenty of bespoke customisation features and even larger 21-inch wheels. Needless to say, it’s impossible to confuse it with a regular Q3.


Inside, the dashboard is dominated by dual screens, an Alcantara flat-bottomed steering wheel, heavily bolstered seats and the sort of special-finish trim you’d expect from a car costing so much. Audi even fits an ‘RS’ button to the steering wheel, so drivers can quickly call up their favourite settings.


As this is a performance Audi, the RS Q3 comes with Quattro all-wheel drive as standard. This gives it stupendous traction, and is responsible for its breathtaking ability to leap away from the line. The Audi isn’t as engaging as the more dynamic Porsche Macan, though. The RS Q3 is about fast point-to-point driving, rather than overall feedback.


Being an SUV also means the Q3 is more family-friendly than the Audi A3 Sportback, its natural hatchback alternative. There’s decent space in the rear and the boot is a fair size. Occupants also get that raised SUV seating position that many find so appealing.


It’s not for everyone, but it’s hard to ignore the growing number of high-performance compact SUVs. We’re certain the RS Q3’s success will only continue as it evolves from a charming curio into a mainstay of the range. 


If you're looking for the standard version, you need our Audi Q3 review.

Is the Audi RS Q3 right for you?

Just as ultra-fast hot hatchbacks are popular right now, so too are their SUV equivalents. As they stretch across every sector of new car, it’s almost inevitable that performance versions will grow in desirability.


That’s exactly what Audi found with the RS Q3: the original was something of a ‘bitsa’, a car you sense was conjured up almost as an experiment. But people liked it, and that encouraged the firm to develop this all-new version.


Love exceptional speed and dynamics within a compact overall package, but still want to experience the SUV stance and higher driving position? Then it’s likely you’ll want to check out the RS Q3. And if this regular version isn’t quite sleek enough for you, Audi now offers an RS Q3 Sportback with a swooping roofline and even sportier looks.


What’s the best Audi RS Q3 model/engine to choose?

There’s only one engine offered in the RS Q3, that rorty 2.5-litre five-cylinder petrol. With any other engine, it wouldn’t be an authentic junior RS vehicle. Audi also only sells it with a seven-speed automatic gearbox, called S Tronic.


There are three model variants - regular RS Q3, Sport Edition and Vorsprung. The latter two have larger alloys and other extras, while Vorsprung is packed with equipment – including almost every bit of tech usually on the options list.


If you want a less potent alternative to the RS Q3, you need to choose something like a Q3 Sport 45 TFSI Quattro, which has a 230PS 2.0-litre TFSI petrol engine. We await with interest the arrival of an SQ3 to plug that massive gap in power…


What other cars are similar to the Audi RS Q3?

The Porsche Macan is an obvious rival to the Audi RS Q3. Whereas the Audi is a sporty version of a conventional car, the Porsche is a more performance-oriented machine from the outset. The V6-engined Macan S may not have the sheer firepower of the Audi, but it’s not far off – and it costs similar money.


Mercedes-AMG is another performance sub-brand stretching out into SUVs, and the GLA 45 is a ferocious little rocket. BMW offers the X2 M35i, but this is more of an SQ3 alternative than a full-on RS Q3 rival. Time will tell whether the firm rolls out a full-fat X2 M.  


Learn more

Audi RS Q3 Interior

On the inside

Audi RS Q3 Driving Side

Driving

Audi RS Q3 Driving Back

How much does it cost to run

Audi RS Q3 Exterior Side

Prices, versions and specification