Form an orderly Q for another winner from Audi’s insomniacs
Q3 is given the supersporty treatment and Frederic Manby finds it a well-behaved all-roader with a nifty turn of speed.
DO they ever sleep at Audi’s HQ in Ingolstadt?
Well, that’s rhetorical. They must sleep, yet the ‘vorsprung durch technik’ stuff must be racing through their dreams. They wake not with memories of those unsolicited physical encounters that invade our sleep; they wake instead with some new durch, or advancement, of the product.
Then it goes into planning and, oh, maybe a few days after the dream, it’s being touted and nudged into the paths of the publicists who toil for Audi globally and then they nudge it over to the journalists and, these days, the blogging opinion formers and lickspittle lackeys of the free launch, and suddenly it’s out there.
Or something like that. In Britain alone it sell some 50 different model lines.
It’s not even as if they are cheap. The entry price in the bottom rung A1 hatchback costs £14,000 (to £22,000) – for a car that is kin to a humbler Volkswagen Polo. In other words a small, refined, chic hatchback.
This price ladder then ascends rapidly. Most Audis cost more than £20,000 and a large swathe are beyond £40,000 and a handful are the top side of £100,000. BMW and Mercedes-Benz are chasing the same buyers and the trio sold 360,000 cars in Britain in the year to November 30.
Do you go to London? It’s worth the stress just to have a look at the prestige German metal on the streets – some of it with Bentley and RollsRoyce bodywork.
I don’t expect the men and women at the bottom of the pile are even aware of the rush of cash into what are, after all, just smarter or marginally faster ways of getting from Mayfair to Henley, the City to Heathrow.
Audi’s tally in the first 11 months was nearly 134,000 and counting. (Ford sold 291,000 but I’d estimate Audi’s forecourt income matched Ford.)
A successful model range is the Q series of smart SUV estates. The biggest-selling model is Q5, which leads its sector, taking more than 50 per cent of Q sales to reach 230,000 this year. That’s what you call on the money
The car tested here is also at the top of its game. The RS Q3 is based on the Audi Q3, which is a bulkier, higher riding version of the A3 hatchback. A Q3 has all-wheel traction and downhill speed control for adequate off-road romping in a domestic sort of way.
It is the smallest of Audi’s Q all-roaders but the RS Q3 is almost the quickest, pipped
It’s worth the stress of going to London just to look at the prestige German metal on the streets.
only by the V8-engined S Q5, a size up.
It is wonderfully quick with its 2,480cc turbo petrol engine delivering 306bhp and 309 lb ft of torque. The seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox is, as ever, a quick and smooth way of changing gear. The 0-62 mph time is possible in 5.5 seconds, says Audi, and the quoted economy is 32mpg combined, with 206g/km of CO2 giving it a high tax band.
Well, here’s a thing. The official average should be possible (29 to 33 mpg on test) but if you are watching fuel consumption you will have bought a Q3 with a diesel engine. Yes, I would too.
A lot of Audi’s motor sports technology has gone into making an all-roader into this fast-roader. The RS Q3 is the first SUV to get the RS treatment from the boffins at Audi’s performance division, known as quattro GmbH.
The regular Q3 higher ride height is eradicated by a dropped chassis and shallowwalled 235/35 Pirellis to avoid body-roll. I’d be loth to take it anywhere the expensive 20inch alloys could get scuffed.
Deliveries begin early next year. My advance sample was in red, with silvery body details.
Details include airstreaming strips at the side of the tailgate window, some tasty carbon-weave type gloss panels on the fascia and door inserts, the emblematic silver and red RS logo on the gear lever, and – hard to miss – a deep deck of grilles at the front which overpower the visual appreciation. However, the vents are there for a reason, not for show. At the rear a single oval tailpipe looks almost understated – but takes care of the exhaust gases efficiently and with a stirring tune.
Headroom is good and there is adequate room for luggage, above a false floor which covers a faux sparewheel well, which houses the tyre repair kit, part of the optional Bose audio installation, still leaving room for odds and ends. The Bose door speakers are outlined with a white light, a touch which may appeal – or not.
An irksome feature was the rear load cover, which apparently does not tilt when the tailgate is opened, and is fiddly to remove.
You may notice lots of road roar on coarse roads but it is, after all, a very sporty car and these spin-offs are acceptable. And it has a really good ride.
Verdict: Not my sort of Q3 but fulfills its design brief admirably.
The Audi RS Q3 sees a lot of the German giant’s motorsports technology turning an all-roader into a fast-roader.
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