If Audi see the tiniest gap in the car market they clearly feel compelled to fill it. Buyers of the more enthusiastic style of small hot hatch are already catered for by the German brand's brilliant pocket rocket, the RS3. Thus it seems to me that to make, effectively, a taller version of the same thing seems wilfully pointless. So why do I love the Audi RSQ3 Performance so?
The RSQ3 has been around for a while, the difference now is in the important word 'Performance' tacked on the end of its name. Essentially, some extra power has been added to make it the equal in terms of performance to the vertically challenged – by comparison – regular RS3 Sportback.
This extra power (362bhp, up by 27bhp on the standard RSQ3) has been secured from the bowels of the 2.5L turbo five-cylinder engine by way of extra cooling from the radiator, a modified fuel pump and new mapping, all of which combine to reduce the 62mph traffic light sprint time to a sprightly 4.4 seconds. In short, this diminutive motor can really crack on, all the way to 155mph. Where permitted, obviously.
In addition to this extra grunt, the RSQ3 Performance gets a darker, more subdued exterior look and is mounted on bespoke 20” alloys. The test car was painted in a gorgeous metallic Ascari Blue that my dull day images don't really do justice to. To the uninitiated, the car looks to be standard 'crossover' fare until, that is, it takes off up the road like dog at bath time.
On The Road
Typically for these days the steering doesn't offer much in the way of feedback and, perhaps surprisingly in a 4x4, the Audi RSQ3 has a tendency to slight understeer at the limit. In any case – and rather highlighting the point of wondering why this car was built in RS form – with the extra height it cannot compete with its hatchback sibling on a tight, twisty road. Still, the tall one has pretty good handling qualities and retains a comfortable ride despite the performance additions.
The trusted S-Tronic auto 'box makes its customary appearance and as ever doesn't let the driver down. It cries out to be set in manual shift via the well-sited paddles and locked onto to 'Dynamic' mode. With lowered suspension added to the mix, the action, to use the expression, is fast and furious.
On The Inside
The downside, if you can call it that, is with interior space. The Audi RSQ3 clearly doesn't have the space of its larger Q-car siblings especially in the back seat, although the exquisitely quilted seats are very comfortable and supportive as you would expect from this brand.
The lofty driving position brings advantages when driving at speed cross-country down narrow lanes with high hedgerows and the like. Give the car its due, this was where the Audi RSQ3 Performance really showed its mettle. It is astonishing quick. As is to be expected, the interior is typically Audi with all the usual toys and devices encapsulated in a high quality environment.
Would I Have One?
Like a shot. The collecting driver almost had to wrestle me to the ground for the keys. I just don't know who this car is for. It's okay for a family but the boot is adequate rather than huge so it the family will have to be small and generally get on well.
It is not a tow car because you'd want diesel power for that. Is it an empty nester's car? Maybe. Spent the kids' inheritance on an expensive and powerful motor (and fully loaded it costs over £50k)? You would spend less buying the regular flavour RS3 and still have all the attributes.
Someone will buy it because the company offers something for everyone but I doubt you will ever see the Audi RSQ3 Performance in vast numbers. But if you are out and about in the countryside and hear a sound like a rocket ship coming up fast behind you, you can fully expect to feel a touch of envy in that he's got one and you haven't.
Author: Geoff Maxted