Audi RS Q3 Review 2023
Audi RS Q3 At A Glance
The Audi RS Q3 is a performance compact SUV that rivals the Porsche Macan, Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 and Cupra Ateca. Launched in 2020, the all-new RS Q3 is available as a standard SUV or a more stylish Sportback. They’re mechanically identical, so you get the same fabulous 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbocharged engine. It hits the right notes, both in terms of the way it performs and the way it sounds. As a performance car, the RS Q3 isn’t perfect. The ride is too firm and there’s a general feeling of detachment from the whole experience. It’s also quite expensive.
The performance SUV is to the modern era what the hot hatchback was to the 1980s. Cars like the Audi RS Q3 tap into our unquenching thirst for SUVs, retaining the practicality of the less well-endowed variants, but turning up the wick in terms of performance and handling.
There are two variants: standard RS Q3 and RS Q3 Sportback, with the latter targeting the kind of people who are happy to pay more for reduced practicality.
Either way, you get the same 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbocharged engine, which is the absolute star of the show. You could buy an RS Q3 on the strength of the engine, and we wouldn’t blame you.
It sounds fantastic, delivering the familiar thrum and burble of a five-cylinder engine. Close your eyes, and you could be standing in a Welsh forest as an Audi Quattro blazes past you in a cloud of dust, gravel and pine needles. Just add Welsh rain.
It’s also ferociously fast, with the 2.5-litre engine delivering a whopping 400PS, which is enough to propel the RS Q3 to 62mph in 4.5 seconds. The top speed is 155mph, or 174mph if you pay Audi to remove the speed limiter.
The problem is, the RS Q3 isn’t that much fun to drive. While it’s certainly quick, and it handles rather sweetly, the steering is too numb and there’s a general detachment from what is going on. This has been an issue with performance Audis for years, but it hasn’t stopped them from selling like hot crumpets. We expect the RS Q3 to sell in similar high numbers.
Then there’s the price, which ranges from £53,000 to £62,000, depending on the trim level. In fairness, the Vorsprung packs all the bells and whistles, but so it should for that price. Let’s remember, the Q3 is a compact SUV.
At least the RS Q3 is well-equipped, with even the ‘entry-level’ model featuring the likes of LED headlights, 20-inch alloy wheels, a 10.1-inch touchscreen display, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, heated leather sport seats and dual-zone climate control. Quality is generally good, but some of the cheap plastics are unforgivable in a car of this price.
Few buyers will care, because the Audi RS Q3 looks and feels special. Select the optional Kyalami green paint to leave a lasting impression on everyone you encounter on the commute to work. It’s what Kermit would choose.
Should you buy an RS Q3 over an RS3 Sportback? Arguably, yes. It’s more practical and somehow feels more upmarket. It’s easy to forget that the hot A3 costs up to £50,000. Wow.
If we were in the market for a performance SUV, we’d opt for the Porsche Macan, but we can see why buyers will flock to the RS Q3 in their droves.