Vehicle Style: 5-door compact SUV
Price: $81,900/$89,945 as tested
Engine/trans: 228kW/420Nm 5cyl petrol | 7spd twin-clutch S-tronic
Fuel Economy claimed: 8.8 l/100km | tested: not recorded
At first glance, it's not an obvious candidate to thrash around a track.
While it's got big tyres, a whopping set of brakes and 'poppy' exhaust from that iconic turbo 'five' under the bonnet, it's a tall SUV with a centre of gravity closer to something like the Sydney Tower.
We took it to a private track north of Sydney for the obligatory 'on-track thrash' - we hate this job - then headed out into the real world to see how it fared.
- 7.0 inch touchscreen with reversing camera and sensors as standard.
- multi function display
- fatigue detection
- leather multi function steering wheel
- RS seats, steering wheel and detailing
Being a jumped-up Q3, the interior is as expected - getting on a little but very well-executed and with some nice additional RS features.
The RS model brings a flat-bottomed steering wheel to the party, leather everywhere, auto headlights, reversing camera and sensors, power windows and mirrors and keyless entry and start.
The $5250 RS Performance Pack switches 19-inch wheels for 20s, DAB+ digital radio, RS embossing on the seats, premium sound and red-painted brake calipers.
It's a big cabin with plenty of headroom and shoulder room in both rows.
The middle passenger wouldn't be too happy between a pair of All-Black front-rowers, but, like the car, that's a fairly niche proposition.
The boot has a big, flat floor but the angled tailgate does rob some overall cubic capacity.
As with most Audis, the ergonomics are well thought-through but the speedo is a mess, with readings up to 300km/h crammed into the dial making it hard to work out. Luckily, there's a digital readout to save your eyes and licence.
ON THE ROAD
- Petrol 2.5 litre turbo with 228kW and 420Nm of torque
- Quattro all-wheel drive
- Seven speed S-tronic
- 25mm lower than standard Q3
The RS Q3's five-cylinder is fantastic. It's a super-punchy unit that held its own on the track with much heavier hitters threatening to engulf it.
It has tremendous straight-line punch down the straights, which it really needs because cornering isn't going to be its strongest suit.
Surprisingly, however, it's a hoot on-track - it's a laugh-a-minute because a car this tall shouldn't really get away with it.
The brakes are excellent, wiping off huge chunks of speed effortlessly, while you brace yourself for the body roll on turn-in.
Once you're past the apex though (which you may have missed because it will understeer), you can plant the foot and let the quattro and electronics fling you to the next corner.
Obviously, a long straight saw the RS6 and RS7 nibbling at its tailpipes (no passing allowed on our track day), but it was harder work for the turbo V8s to nail the RS Q3 than you might imagine.
And on the road, off the confines of the track, the RS Q3 remains a fun steer.
The ride though is a bit rugged for really bad surfaces (blame the 20-inch rims and dynamic damping tunes). You can forget any off-roading on this suspension and those tyres - the Q3 is no mud-plugger to begin with - but the trade-off in handling is worth it for near-S3 levels of fun in a family-friendly four-door package.
With the drive select switched to 'Comfort', it is an agreeable thing for the school run, with smoother shifts, softer dynamic damping and less-aggressive throttle mappings to stop the kids from getting acceleration whiplash.
ANCAP rating: 5/5 Stars - The Q3 range scored 35.13 out of 37 possible points.
Standard equipment: Six airbags, ABS with brake force distribution, traction and stability control and seatbelt pre-tensioners, brake assist, reversing camera.
Its good on-road manners - though certainly firmer below than your average small SUV - translate well to the track, as does that incredibly fiesty turbo 228kW turbo under the bonnet.
True, few owners will give it a crack while wearing a helmet (for which, incidentally, there is plenty of room), but that will be a shame.
While you won't be clipping apexes with crushing accuracy, it's an SUV remember, you will marvel at just how well Quattro GmBh has done with this super-hot little wagon.