The new RS Performance range offers RS enthusiasts even more power, uprated handling and higher specification, but at a higher price.
One such new derivative is the RS Q3 Performance which turns the popular Q3 mid-sized Crossover into a rapid mile-muncher.
The price of this ‘hot’ version is £49,185 as opposed to the standard RS Q3 model which costs £45,820. Additional equipment over the RS Q3 includes exclusive design 20-inch alloy wheels, titanium body styling pack, red brake calipers, carbon interior trim inlays, black leather and Alcantara upholstery with blue stitching and a LED interior lighting pack.
But the biggest change is under the bonnet where the five cylinder 2.5-litre TFSI turbo petrol engine has a power boost of 27hp over the RS Q3 to 367hp and with peak torque of 465Nm is developed from 1,625rpm. The impressive torque output is available up to a high 5,550rpm which means this engine just goes on ‘giving’ acceleration response almost right through the entire rev range. Top speed is restricted to 155mph and zero to 62mph takes just 4.4-seconds – and all this comes from a Crossover or SUV. This version has a seven-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox with Sport mode and has quattro variable driving torque all wheel drive traction.
The Combined Cycle fuel economy is 32.8mpg and on a brief test drive on mainly busy A roads, with the occasional burst of acceleration included, the real-life figure was 30.1mpg. With CO2 emissions of 203g/km VED road tax is £650 for the First Year rate and then £295 thereafter. Company executives will pay the maximum rate of 37% Benefit-in-Kind tax. Insurance is Group 43.
Anna Chudley, UK product manager for Q3 and Q7 models, said, “The RS Q3 Performance is being launched this month as the halo model in the Q3 range, bringing sports car performance to the family sector for drivers who want to have fun in an SUV.”
Audi’s Q models of SUV/Crossover accounted for almost 20% of their total UK sales so the demand for such vehicles is high. The Q3 range accounted for 15,545 UK sales last year and the RS Q3 is expected to be chosen by 2% of Q3 customers with conquest sales from buyers from Range Rover Evoque Si4 HSE Dynamic and Mercedes GLA 45 AMG rivals.
The large Q5 models achieved 11,965 sales and the huge Q7 3,701 registrations. With the Q2 compact Crossover to come in December, the SQ7 435hp turbodiesel to arrive in August and the Q7 e-tron plug-in diesel/electric hybrid also to arrive in August, Q model sales are expected to be even higher this year so the Q-queue is getting longer and faster.
Overall the new RS Q3 Performance is as well balanced in the performance and handling department as the impressive RS3 Hatchback which uses the same five cylinder 2.5-litre TFSI engine, S tronic gearbox and quattro all wheel drive systems. The look is a RS3 Hatchback on steroids with its bold haunches, slightly elevated height and huge front grille.
Better still is the overall ability of this vehicle, it’s not an off-roader; it is one of a new breed of high performance family cars but wrapped up in the latest demands for an SUV styled body. The engine can be quiet and docile on a light throttle making driving in traffic just as easy as a lesser powered version. But press harder and then power pours in and it goes on pouring-in right through the rev range. It’s faster zero to 62mph than the new Ford Focus RS 2.3T hatchback and it would have a higher top speed as well if it was not restricted to 155mph.
Perhaps just as impressive is the way the RS Q3 Performance Crossover handles its power. The sports suspension, aided by the quattro system, provides balanced handling, sharp steering and yet the ride is not that hard and uncompromising. Although it has an elevated ride height it is 20mm lower than a standard Q3 so there seemed to be very little body-roll during cornering and the steering was firm and precise as well.
The added items of RS specification set it apart from the conservatively styled standard Q3 and give it new must-have desirability both in terms of looks and performance. Despite its high price I think Audi might have under-called its UK sales potential in the flourishing SUV market.
MILESTONES: Audi RS Q3 Performance, 2.5 TFSI quattro S tronic. Price: £49,185. Engine/transmission: 2.5-litre, 5-cylinder TFSI turbocharged direct injection petrol engine, 367hp, 465Nm of torque from 1,625rpm, 7-speed S tronic twin clutch auto, quattro all wheel drive. Performance: 155mph (restricted), 0-62mph 4.4-seconds, Combined Cycle 32.8mpg (30.1mpg on a short test drive), CO2 203g/km, VED road tax £650/£295, BIK company car tax 37%. Insurance group: 43. Warranty: 3-years/60,000-miles. Dimensions/capacities: 5-doors/5-seats, L 4,410, W 1,841mm, H 1,580mm, boot/load space 356/1,261-litres. For: Audi’s must-have RS Performance treatment breathes life into the conservatively styled and performing Q3 Crossover range, high spec, immense power, beautifully built. Against: High price, high taxes, restricted rear quarter visibility, limited rear passenger legroom. Miles Better News Agency