The successor to the first, and currently only, series production Audi SUV to have sported the emotive RS badge is waiting in the wings not only with a significantly more powerful version of the first generation car’s hallowed five-cylinder TFSI engine on board,
but also with a new and highly appropriate Sportback body style option. The new 400PS RS Q3 and its even more curvaceous RS Q3 Sportback counterpart are set to become available in the UK in late autumn 2019 with a choice of ‘standard’, Audi Sport Edition and Vorsprung trim levels, and will be delivered to their first customers here towards the end of the year.
“The first Audi RS Q3 established its own segment. We aim to continue this success story with the new generation of the compact high-performance SUV,” says Oliver Hoffmann, Managing Director of Audi Sport GmbH. “With the offering of the all-new Audi RS Q3 Sportback, a progressive SUV coupe crossover, we are the trendsetter and are leveraging to the full the phenomenal growth potential for Audi Sport.”
The Audi RS Q3 and the Audi RS Q3 Sportback are synonymous with strength and outstanding performance - virtues that are also reflected in their design. The borderless Singleframe grille with its three-dimensional honeycomb structure in gloss black is inset deeper and directly into the RS bumper with its large side air inlets, and the striking boomerang-shaped blades in the bumper are designed exclusively for the RS Q3. The RS genes are also apparent in the flat slits above the Singleframe radiator grille.
With its sloping coupe-like roof line, the RS Q3 Sportback sits lower than the RS Q3, and its rising shoulder line is set further down than in its sister car, lowering the body’s optical centre of gravity. As such, the body appears even more muscular and the wheels larger. Both Audi Sport high-performance sports cars underscore their performance aspiration with pronounced wheel arches, which have been flared by 10 millimetres.
The rear view also signals power, particularly in the RS Q3 Sportback, which with its low rear window and roof edge spoiler in gloss black appears even wider than its sister model. The low-slung roof line and broad, sloping D-pillars also convey strength and dynamism. The new generation of the RS Q3 comes for the first time with a dual-branch RS exhaust system with large oval tailpipes on both sides and chrome-coloured trims. In the UK this exhaust system will sit in an RS-specific bumper with rear diffuser and horizontal blades in matt aluminium. A gloss black finish will also be available.
Depending on version, UK RS Q3 and RS Q3 Sportback models will be equipped with either LED headlights or Matrix LED headlights with dynamic indicators and RS-specific darkened trims. The rear lights also use LED technology.
The five-cylinder engine at the heart of the new RS Q3 models is a modern classic, and in its successive generations has been the recipient of the sought-after “International Engine of the Year Award” on an impressive nine consecutive occasions.
The performance figures for the compact and characterful five-cylinder unit are compelling: its 400PS power output represents a 17 per cent increase in power at an unchanged displacement of 2,480 cc. The engine’s maximum torque of 480 Nm (354.0 lb-ft) is available over a very broad rev range between 1,950 and 5,850 rpm. The RS Q3 and RS Q3 Sportback sprint from zero to 62mph in just 4.5 seconds and can continue to a limited top speed of 155mph which can be increased as an option to 174mph.
At less than 50 centimetres in length, the 2.5 TFSI engine is extremely compact and is 26 kg lighter than the previous model. Its crankcase is made of aluminium, which alone saves 18 kg. In order to reduce internal friction and at the same time increase power output, the cylinder liners are plasma-coated and the crankshaft is hollow bored to reduce weight by a further 1kg. Its main bearings are also six millimetres smaller in diameter. The aluminium pistons have integrated channels for oil cooling. In the short warm-up phase after a cold start, the switchable water pump does not circulate the coolant in the cylinder head – the 2.5 TFSI engine thus reaches its operating temperature more quickly. This lowers the coefficient of friction and reduces fuel consumption.
1-2-4-5-3 – firing alternates between adjacent cylinders and those far apart from one another. The particular firing sequence and the odd number of cylinders make for a very special rhythm and unique engine sound. The dual-branch RS exhaust system underscores the characteristic sound of the five-cylinder firing sequence. The RS sport exhaust system with black tailpipe trims that will be a standard feature of Edition and Vorsprung variants accentuates the unmistakable sound even more.
The power from the five-cylinder engine flows via a seven-speed S tronic transmission to the quattro permanent all-wheel drive system that distributes the power as needed between the axles via a multi-plate clutch. The wheel‑selective torque control also contributes to the safe and agile handling.
The Audi drive select dynamic handling system influences the operating characteristics of the quattro system and other components such as steering, suspension, the S tronic transmission, engine response and sound. Depending on the selected equipment variant, there is a choice of five or six modes: comfort, auto, dynamic, efficiency and individual or, as an alternative to the individual mode, the two new RS modes RS1 and RS2. Via the MMI the driver can adjust and save the two RS modes individually. The new “RS MODE” steering wheel button provides rapid access to the two new modes and allows the driver to switch between modes.
The standard RS sport suspension lowers the body by 10 millimetres compared with the Audi Q3 and Q3 Sportback and provides the two sport compacts with outstanding handling characteristics. The RS-tuned progressive steering also clearly conveys feedback from the road.
At the front axle with its MacPherson design featuring lower wishbones, the track width is 1,590 millimetres. In the rear, the four-link design provides a track width of 1,583 millimetres. Behind the standard 20-inch wheels the all-new six-piston RS steel brake system works with ventilated and perforated discs measuring 375 millimetres (front) and 310 millimetres (rear, not perforated). Their callipers are painted black as standard and are available in red as an option.
Vorsprung versions of the new RS Q3 and RS Q3 Sportback are equipped with the RS sport suspension plus with Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC), the operating parameters of which are adjustable via the Audi drive select system. Here an electrically actuated proportional valve regulates the flow of oil into the damper pistons. Sensors measure movements of the vehicle body, and the RS-tuned dampers are then adjusted accordingly based on the road surface conditions and driving situation. The suspension provides the optimum damping force for each damper within milliseconds – low for hard bumps; high to brace the body during fast cornering or when braking. The upshot is enhanced driving dynamics, precise stability and agile handling coupled with even greater comfort.
The focus on performance and uncompromising driver reward conveyed by the exterior styling of the new RS Q3 models is also carried through into their interiors. The air-conditioning control unit, the centre console and the MMI touch display are tilted towards the driver by ten degrees – the entire cockpit is very much designed with the driver in mind.
The architecture of the instrument panel with the fully digital, RS-specific Audi virtual cockpit plus that is standard for all UK models harmonises perfectly with the display for the MMI touch operating concept with its unobtrusive high-gloss black surround. The virtual cockpit plus incorporates a shift light display that prompts the driver to upshift when the maximum engine speed is reached, and also special RS displays providing information on tyre pressure, torque, power output, lap times, g-forces and acceleration measurements.
Entry lighting with Audi Sport projection in the doors welcomes the driver and front passenger, and RS logos adorn the steering wheel and the illuminated front door sill trims. The RS sport leather steering wheel, flattened at the bottom, includes newly designed shift paddles and multifunction buttons that allow the driver to control the two optional RS modes in the Audi drive select dynamic handling system. The RS-specific displays open automatically in the Audi virtual cockpit plus.