Audi offers not one but two RS variations on a Q3 theme. This
one, the RSQ3 Sportback, shares much of the specification of the RSQ3 but adds
an extra dash of style with a coupé-like profile. Despite the lower, leaner
appearance, it’s still a five-seater with plenty of interior space and a
glorious, award-winning five-cylinder motor up front.
Though based on the RSQ3 platform, the Sportback takes a different design route with a roofline that’s some 45mm lower, tapering down towards a coupé-style tail. The shoulder line is lower too, reducing the visual centre of gravity. At the rear the narrower rear window and gloss black roof spoiler accentuate the low, wide impression. RS design signatures include a frameless Audi grille with honeycomb pattern infill flanked by deep air intakes and boomerang-shaped airblades. A dual-branch RS exhaust system with large oval tailpipes emerges from both sides of the rear diffuser. Inside, the sports seats are in a mix of leather and Alcantara with RS embossing and a choice of contrast stitching.
The RSQ3 Sportback is powered by an all-new five-cylinder 2.5 TFSI, recent winner of the International Engine of the Year award. Power is up 17 per cent to 400bhp and 480Nm of torque, while weight is down by 26kg, helping the RSQ3 Sportback feel even more agile on twisty roads. A seven-speed S-tronic transmission sends the power to all four wheels via quattro permanent all-wheel drive. Zero to 62mph takes just 4.5 seconds, top speed is restricted to 155 with the option of a governor-free 174mph.
The driver of the RSQ3 Sportback enjoys a wide range of data thanks to an RS-specific version of the acclaimed Audi Virtual Cockpit. Tyre pressure, torque, power output, lap times, g-forces and acceleration data can all be displayed as well as the usual speed, rpm and temperatures. The optional Virtual Cockpit Plus includes a shift light display that prompts you to upshift when the maximum rpm is reached. Infotainment is accessed by voice command or touch via MMI touch display, neatly integrated into the fascia within a high-gloss black glass-look surround.
RSQ3 Sportback driver and passengers are protected by a long list of safety systems. Among the standard features are Audi Pre-Sense with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane departure warning and Audi side assist. The Driver Assistance Pack includes traffic sign recognition, high-beam assist, adaptive cruise assist and emergency assist as well as the Audi Parking System Plus.
Verdict: As a coupé crossover, the RSQ3 Sportback reconciles the practicality of a compact SUV with the distinctive style of a crossover coupé. Dynamically and in outright acceleration it’s a match for all but the most hardcore sports cars, with a glorious off-beat burble from its charismatic 400hp engine, allied to quattro all-wheel drive and a track-honed suspension set up.
• 20" x 8.5J '10 spoke star' design alloy wheels
• LED headlights with LED daytime running lights and dynamic rear indicators
• Front RS Sport seats in Fine Nappa leather with honeycomb stitching and RS embossing
• MMI Navigation Plus with MMI touch display
• Audi Virtual Cockpit Plus
• 21" x 8.5J '5-V-spoke polygon' design alloy wheels in black
• Dark tinted Matrix LED headlights with dynamic front and rear indicators
• Black Styling Pack – adds black highlights to the exterior, including Audi Rings and RS Q3 logo in gloss black
• Panoramic glass sunroof
• RS Sport exhaust system, dual branch with exhaust flap control and gloss black oval tailpipe trims
• 21" x 8.5J '5-arm trigon' design, anthracite black, diamond cut finish
• Exterior mirror housings in Carbon
• Bang & Olufsen 3D Sound System
• RS Sport Suspension Plus
• Driver Assistance Pack