STIRRING SUV: Don't let the cutesy exterior fool you, Audi's RS baby SUV packs a magnificent turbocharged wallop.
STIRRING SUV: Don't let the cutesy exterior fool you, Audi's RS baby SUV packs a magnificent turbocharged wallop. Mark Bramley

Audi RS Q3 Performance road test and review

A PERFORMANCE SUV, hey. Who would have thought?   

Well, Audi, for one, their faith now assured by the take-up of the first RS Q3 which arrived here early in 2014.  

And now they have added more sizzle to that performance with the well, RS Q3 Performance, a 270kW 465Nm conundrum that is fast and fun.  

2016 Audi RS Q3 Performance.Photo: Mark Bramley
2016 Audi RS Q3 Performance.Photo: Mark Bramley Mark Bramley

Comfort

Given the on-road prowess of the Q3 Performance, the interior seems quite a muted accomplice by comparison. Sure it has all the Audi nods to quality, fit and finish, but it all feels rather tame.   

It remains, though, a pleasant place to be with the diamond-quilt seats in our launch car offering luxurious wraparound comfort and the sporty flat-bottomed steering just right in the hand.

The spaciousness allowed for front seat occupants is not really replicated in the back with two children the best fit for those accommodations.   

There are places, not many, to put your keys and phone and of course that essential morning coffee while the boot (356-litres) is big enough for the weekly shop or a couple of bags if you are looking for time away.  

2016 Audi RS Q3 Performance.Photo: Mark Bramley
2016 Audi RS Q3 Performance.Photo: Mark Bramley Mark Bramley

On the road 

The same hand-built five-cylinder petrol engine that gurgles under the hood of RS 3 Sportback allows the RS Q3 Performance more power and torque than its predecessor giving it an instantly noticeable edge.   

It is paired with Audi's seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, uses the acclaimed AWD Quattro system, naturally, all of which combine for a drive that is effortlessly easy to enjoy.   

On the saturated test roads up to Bright, the Q3 Performance never put a foot wrong, quiet and capable on the highway, confident in the esses and with an eyebrow-raising burst of speed that gives credit to an improved 0-100km time of just 4.4 seconds.   

The Quattro can assign up to 100% of grip to either the front or rear wheels giving you that feeling of assurance when needed, this car is better slow into corners and quick out of them and overall handling is efficient and easy.   

It is happy to amble around surreptitiously while you are doing the day's chores but when you are keen to stretch the legs, select Dynamic mode, place your hands on the paddles and enjoy the joy that the crackle and pop brings. This is without doubt an SUV for enthusiasts.   

2016 Audi RS Q3 Performance.Photo: Mark Bramley
2016 Audi RS Q3 Performance.Photo: Mark Bramley Mark Bramley

What do you get?

A high level spec is courtesy at this price point and Audi doesn't disappoint with a long list of safety and comfort inclusions as standard like powered front seats with four-way lumbar support, dual-zone climate control, rear view camera with parking sensors, power tailgate, blind-spot assist, MMI Navigation plus system with 7.0-inch screen, digital radio, bluetooth interface with audio streaming, auto dimming mirrors and keyless entry.   

Our car was also equipped with the RS Performance package ($4490) to our mind the best of the optional packages, highlighting sports suspension with damper control, sports seats, Bose surround sound system and load-through facility for the rear seats.  

Audi RS Q3 Performance. Photo: Contributed
Audi RS Q3 Performance. Photo: Contributed

Running costs

Despite the increase in power official figures remain at the 8.8 litres/100km mark. Warranty is three years unlimited kilometres.   

Practicality

It is hardly surprising that most RS Q3 buyers are looking for the SUV ease but with a super sporty twist. Some are downsizers, most live in the city where one car space is the norm and interestingly there are as many women as men among that number. For that demographic I suppose the Q3 Performance makes total sense and it is fun too. Audi's virtual cockpit would zing things up a bit.  

2016 Audi RS Q3 Performance.Photo: Mark Bramley
2016 Audi RS Q3 Performance.Photo: Mark Bramley Mark Bramley

Funky factor

The Q3 Performance gets the RS treatment with 20-inch alloys over red brake calipers and matt-titanium trim on the grille, air inlets, wing mirrors, rear diffuser and roof rails. It looks sporty and schmick without being too in your face.  

The lowdown

The RS Q3 Performance may seem like a confusing offering but is in fact super easy to like. Why should driving an SUV be boring and this little bundle with its throaty gurgle, road-holding capabilities and distinct ability to err on the side of adventure will have you looking at practicality in a new light.   

It's pricey, yes, and niche but doesn't stop me from wanting one.  

2016 Audi RS Q3 Performance.Photo: Mark Bramley
2016 Audi RS Q3 Performance.Photo: Mark Bramley Mark Bramley

Vital statistics

Model: Audi RS Q3 Performance.  

Details: Five-door AWD sports SUV.   

Engines: 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbocharged petrol generating maximum power of 270kW @ 5550-6800rpm and peak torque of 465Nm @ 1625-5550rpm.  

Transmission: Seven-speed dual clutch automatic.  

Performance 0-100kmh: 4.4 seconds.   

Consumption: 8.8 litres/100km (combined average).  

Bottom line plus on-roads: $84,216.   

2016 Audi RS Q3 Performance.Photo: Mark Bramley
2016 Audi RS Q3 Performance.Photo: Mark Bramley Mark Bramley

The verdict

Driving experience  18/20  

Features and equipment  18/20  

Functionality and comfort  18/20  

Value for money  18/20  

Style and design  17/20   

Total  90/100

2016 Audi RS Q3 Performance.Photo: Mark Bramley
2016 Audi RS Q3 Performance.Photo: Mark Bramley Mark Bramley

What matters most 

What we liked: Sporty ride, throaty pop, instant throttle response.  

What we'd like to see: Funkier interior, virtual cockpit like we have seen in the Q7, TT and A4.

Warranty and servicing: Three-year unlimited kilometre warranty and optional servicing program. Program starts from $1590 for "Audi Genuine Care Service Plan" and covers all your scheduled servicing for the duration of three years or 45,000 kilometres. Servicing is every 15,000km or 12 months.      

2016 Audi RS Q3 Performance.Photo: Mark Bramley
2016 Audi RS Q3 Performance.Photo: Mark Bramley Mark Bramley


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