PER­FECT MATCH OF SPEED AND STYLE

Audi’s latest ven­ture into the SUV mar­ket is a touch of class in a man­age­ably-sized pack­age

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - FIRST DRIVE ANDY EN­RIGHT

RE­VISED AUDI RS Q3

THE Audi Q3 is the brand’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive in the grow­ing five-seat cross­over seg­ment but the range needs a head­line-maker — this car, per­haps, the RS Q3. Here, you get a 2.5-litre turbo petrol en­gine bor­rowed from the old TT RS sports car, now up­rated to 340PS and quite able to take on this model’s di­rect ri­val, the Mercedes GLA 45 AMG.

As with that com­peti­tor, here you get a four-wheel drive chas­sis in a car that’s no longer than a Ford Fo­cus — a recipe for fire­works. Thus equipped, the Q3 morphs from vanilla to very quick in­deed.

Driv­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence

Fast SUVS haven’t al­ways hit the mark, so it’s per­haps un­der­stand­able that when Audi made a de­ci­sion which of its range to give the RS treat­ment to, it chose the small­est and wield­iest model. The Q3 han­dles well in stan­dard guise, with the 210PS 2.0-litre be­ing a fun steer, but add another 130PS and the RS Q3 be­comes se­ri­ously rapid.

That out­put has been use­fully in­creased with this re­vised model and it’s enough for this Q3 to de­mol­ish the 62mph bench­mark in just 4.8 sec­onds, with the car reined in by Audi’s elec­tron­ics at 155mph. The 2.5-litre five-cylin­der en­gine we know about, fa­mil­iar from the TT RS and RS 3 Sport­back. Peak power is made be­tween 5,200 and 6,700rpm, so it likes a few revs on the board. An RS ex­haust sys­tem with a switch­able flap adds even more vol­ume to the un­mis­tak­able sound of the five-cylin­der en­gine.

The 1-2-4-5-3 cylin­der ig­ni­tion se­quence, sup­ported by the ge­om­e­try of the air in­duc­tion and ex­haust sys­tems, gives that char­ac­ter­is­tic and charis­matic Audi five-cylin­der bur­ble and driv­ers can in­flu­ence the flap con­trol for the ex­haust sys­tem and the ac­cel­er­a­tor char­ac­ter­is­tic via the Audi drive se­lect adap­tive dy­nam­ics sys­tem, which is fit­ted as stan­dard.

The all-wheel drive sys­tem uses an elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled multi-plate clutch po­si­tioned on the rear axle. It works with Rs-spe­cific sports sus­pen­sion which low­ers the body by 25mm com­pared to the stan­dard sus­pen­sion. A spe­cially tai­lored elec­tronic sta­bil­i­sa­tion con­trol (ESC) is also en­gi­neered

into the RS Q3, of­fer­ing a sport mode which raises the limit at which it in­ter­venes, and it can also be de­ac­ti­vated en­tirely.

Big per­fo­rated 365mm front brake discs have a wave de­sign with wave­shaped outer con­tours, which saves ap­prox­i­mately one kilo­gram of weight at the front wheels. These are gripped by eight-pis­ton cal­lipers so you’ve got some heavy-duty stop­ping power as stan­dard.

De­sign and Build

The Q3’s squat, slightly bul­bous styling also gets a shot in the arm with the RS model. Rs-spe­cific ex­te­rior bits in­clude a black hon­ey­comb front grille and RS bumpers, a qu­at­tro em­blem in the air in­take, a rear dif­fuser and big el­lip­ti­cal tailpipes. A roof spoiler, roof rails in matt alu­minium and spe­cial door sill plates and door trim strips fin­ish the look. An ex­clu­sive Sepang Blue pearl paint fin­ish is also of­fered — at a cost.

Drop in­side and you’ll spot more RS ac­cents. The in­stru­ment clus­ter has grey gauges with white scales and red nee­dles. Con­trast­ing grey stitch­ing on the steer­ing wheel and gear lever, a black head­lin­ing and alu­minium ped­als and foot sup­port look suit­ably racy. The MMI and driver in­for­ma­tion sys­tem dis­plays welcome the driver with the RS logo.

Driv­ers can call up the boost pres- sure, oil tem­per­a­ture and a lap timer via the RS menu in the driver in­for­ma­tion sys­tem. The stan­dard dash and door in­lays are pi­ano black, but alu­minium race or car­bon in­lays are also of­fered.

The lug­gage area has a ca­pac­ity of 356-litres, which can be in­creased to 1,261-litres by fold­ing down the split rear seat backs.

Mar­ket and Model

Pric­ing is set at around £45,000 on the road, putting it into di­rect com­par­i­son with the Mercedes-benz GLA 45 AMG, the RS Q3’s clos­est ri­val. Stan­dard equip­ment in­cludes some quite beau­ti­ful heated leather front sports seats, a multi-func­tion steer­ing wheel, Blue­tooth, a ten-speaker ipod and Usb-com­pat­i­ble sound sys­tem, and voice con­trol for ra­dio and tele­phone func­tion­al­ity.

As you might well ex­pect, it all feels beau­ti­fully screwed to­gether, with Audi’s typ­i­cal at­ten­tion to de­tail. The ef­fect is that the RS Q3 feels jewel-like and in­cred­i­bly de­sir­able. It feels like the best bits of Audi, con­densed into a man­age­ably-sized pack­age.

Cost of Own­er­ship

If the other mod­els that share this en­gine are any­thing to go by, fuel econ­omy when driven in a spir­ited fash­ion can best be de­scribed as sober­ing, notwith­stand­ing the im­pres­sive-sound­ing 32.8mpg fig­ure Audi quotes as a com­bined av­er­age. Emis­sions aren’t at all bad as a re­sult of this num­ber, the RS Q3 be­ing rated at 203g/km. That’s not at all bad for an SUV with 450Nm of torque.

Resid­ual val­ues should hold up very well. For a start it’s an Audi Q3, which has per­formed well on the used mar­ket and most Audis with an RS badge tend to cling to their value. In­sur­ance is ex­pen­sive, so make sure you shop around, as quotes will vary.

The RS Q3 de­liv­ers charisma, at­ti­tude and ex­cite­ment. Yes, you’ll need to dig deep for the priv­i­lege, but given that many of its ri­vals can be spec­i­fied to this price bracket while fea­tur­ing way weed­ier pow­er­plants, the money asked for the RS Q3 doesn’t seem too pre­pos­ter­ous.

A sports SUV is the an­swer to a ques­tion few re­ally ask, but once sam­pled it’s hard to say no. The RS Q3 is part of a new gen­er­a­tion of down­sized ex­am­ples, pow­er­ful SUVS pre­vi­ously only com­ing in su­per­sized form. It’s a car that has an in­her­ent feel­ing of right­ness about it.

It won’t be for ev­ery­one, but the lucky few will find an Audi that has a cer­tain waspish­ness to its na­ture. You’d like one.

The new Q3 of­fers a stylish in­te­rior with eye-catch­ing and sturdy body­work

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