The compact luxury SUV class has two new big hitters, as Audi Sport reveals the RS Q3 and the all-new RS Q3 Sportback.

26 September, 2019

They are the two newest arrivals in what’s called the ‘sport compact SUV ’ segment, but in describing these latest additions to the Audi Sport family, the description is a little misleading.

With luxury accommodation for up to five adults and their luggage, the ‘compact’ part of the descriptor isn’t really accurate, and with the sort of performance on tap in these two, ‘sport’ really doesn’t do them justice either.

‘High-performance’ and ‘luxurious’ are really the only way of introducing these two leaders of the Audi Q3 range.

The new Audi RS Q3 is the second generation of the compact sport SUV model and brings with is all new design, attitude, appointment and of course performance. Joining it is a completely new Audi RS model in the RS Q3 Sportback, the first time the stunning coupe-like styling has been applied in this segment, and giving customers even greater choice to suit their tastes and lifestyle.

Both vehicles boast the highest standards of luxurious appointment and equipment, combined with the most exacting standards in engineering and construction for two exciting new RS models.

“The first Audi RS Q3 established its own segment. We aim to continue this success story with the new generation of the compact high-performance SUV,” says Oliver Hoffmann, Managing Director of Audi Sport GmbH.

“With the offering of the all-new Audi RS Q3 Sportback, a progressive SUV coupe crossover, we are the trendsetter and are leveraging to the full the phenomenal growth potential for Audi Sport.”

Like all Audi Sport models, the two new RS Q3 models capture the imagination right from the first look. The latest Audi design language works perfectly in the RS application, bringing a much sharper and more aggressive look to both vehicles.

From the 3D treatment of the Singleframe grille to the distinctive RS honeycomb structure set into the RS bumper and the huge air inlets – it’s an arresting combination of form and function. LED headlights with distinctive daytime light signature are standard equipment, while matrix LED headlights with dynamic indicators and RS-specific darkened trims are available as an option.  A total of eight body colours are available – including the RS-specific colours Kyalami green and Nardo grey – giving these Audi Sport models a look all their own, and with the availability of a number of styling packs, including the likes of blacked out four ring logo and black highlights and the newest RS Q3 models take on a whole new persona again.

The second generation RS Q3 has ‘muscled up’ considerably over the predecessor and is indeed physically larger than the first generation. Joining it for the first time is the new RS Q3 Sportback, which shares many of its styling highlights, but adds its own unique style. Lower than the RS Q3 by 45mm, the rising shoulder line adds to the impression of a low slung body and of a wide solid stance. The guards on both models have also been flared by 10mm on each wheel arch, partly to accommodate the huge 20-inch wheels (21-inch optional) and also to add to that impressive stance.

In addition, the two new RS models also sit 10mm lower than the standard Audi Q3 and Q3 Sportback thanks to the standard RS sport suspension – again adding to the stance as well as the handling and ride dynamics.

The rear design also appears very powerful, with the low rear window and the roof edge spoiler in gloss black, making the RS Q3 Sportback appear even wider than its sister model. 

For the first time, these high-performance SUVs also feature the dual branch RS exhaust system with large oval tailpipes on both sides and chrome-coloured trims.

This exhaust system sits in an RS-specific bumper with rear diffuser and horizontal blades in gloss black, while the rear diffuser and blades are available in matt aluminium as an option. 

Quite apart from the look of the sports exhaust though, it is the sound they emit when the five-cylinder powerplant is under load that will thrill the heart of every performance enthusiast.

The multi-award-winning five-cylinder engine again provides the power for the RS Q3 model, but this evolution has seen a 17 percent increase over the previous model.

Weighing 26kg less than the previous engine, the 2.5 TFSI produces 294kW and 480Nm of torque available from 1950rpm right through the range to 5850rpm. This is mated to a seven-speed S tronic with power down to the road via quattro permanent all-wheel drive that distributes the power as needed between the axles via a multi-plate clutch. The result is pure exhilaration.

Point it down a track and give the car its head and the 0 to100km/h sprint is done and dusted in just 4.5 seconds on the way to a top (electronically governed) speed of 250km/h. This can be increased to 280km/h on request for those with an eye to track use.

Giving even greater control over the vehicle’s performance and responsiveness, the Audi drive select dynamic handling system influences the quattro drive and other components such as steering, suspension, S tronic, engine characteristic and sound. Depending on the selected equipment variant, there is a choice of five or six modes – comfort, auto, dynamic, efficiency and individual or, as an alternative to the individual mode, the two new RS modes RS1 and RS2. Via the MMI the driver can adjust and save the two RS modes individually and simply pressing the new ‘RS MODE’ steering wheel button provides rapid access to the two new modes and allows the driver to switch between them. 

Of course all this performance and acceleration is no use without the appropriate stopping power and the RS Q3 and RS Q3 Sportback have no shortage in that department either.

An all-new six-piston RS steel brake system works with ventilated and perforated disks measuring 375 millimetres (front) and 310 millimetres (rear, not perforated). Their brake calipers are painted black as standard and are available in red as an option. The brake calipers of the optional, all-new RS ceramic brakes are available optionally in grey, red or blue. In front, the braking power is generated by newly developed monoblock aluminium calipers and ceramic brake disks that are 380 millimetres in diameter. At the rear, floating calipers and steel disks measuring 310 millimetres in diameter ensure the necessary deceleration. 

As an option the new RS Q3 and RS Q3 Sportback are also available with the RS sport suspension plus with Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC). Here an electrically actuated proportional valve regulates the flow of oil into the damper pistons. The Audi drive select dynamic handling system also influences the RS sport suspension plus with damper control, in which sensors measure movements of the vehicle body. The RS-tuned dampers are then adjusted accordingly to the road surface conditions and driving situation. The suspension provides the optimum damping force for each damper within milliseconds – low for hard bumps and high to brace the body during fast cornering or when braking. The result is enhanced driving dynamics, precise stability and agile handling coupled with even greater comfort. 

Of course to wear the RS badge, pure performance and handling are not enough. The beautifully finished cabins boast the absolute latest in automotive technology, connectivity and luxury. 

They are also designed for optimum space – five adults – and ample room for luggage and equipment. 

The rear seats can be moved fore-aft as standard by 150 millimetres in the RS Q3 or 130 millimetres in the RS Q3 Sportback, while their three-way split backrests can be tilted in seven stages. 

Luggage capacity is a generous 530 litres with a full complement of occupants, but that becomes a cavernous 1525 litres with the backrests folded down.

The cabin is of course superbly finished. Up front the MMI touch display with its high-gloss black glass-look works beautifully with the RS interiors, along with Audi virtual cockpit (or Audi virtual cockpit plus with shift light display), which provides information on tyre pressure, torque, power output, lap times, g-forces and acceleration measurements.

The wheel is of course a flat-bottom RS sport leather steering wheel, which allows the driver to control many functions including the RS specific modes of the Audi drive select dynamic handling system amongst other things.

Sport seats are in black leather/Alcantara with RS embossing and RS sport seats in fine Nappa leather with RS-specific honeycomb pattern and integrated head restraints are available for the first time in the Q3 family. Their contrasting stitching comes standard in gloss black, and optionally in red or blue. When selecting one of the two RS design packages in red or blue, highlights on the steering wheel rim, belt straps, floor mats and gear lever are coloured while the steering wheel and selector lever come in Alcantara. 

With the extended RS design packages, the panels and door armrests are trimmed in red or blue Alcantara. Inlays in Aluminium Race, anthracite, optionally in piano finish, black, or carbon, round out the sporty interior. For the first time, the interior can also be finished entirely in black.

Entry lighting with Audi Sport projection in the doors welcomes the driver and front passenger, while RS logos adorn the interior on the steering wheel and the illuminated front door sill trims.

Although the RS Q3 and RS Q3 Sportback are unashamed high-performance driver’s vehicles, they also offer a practical daily motoring solution for those with a busy lifestyle and those who appreciate the finer things in life. Sportscar performance, yet perfectly happy taking on the day to day driving duties of city life. Come the weekend though and the open road or the twisting back road beckons – and these are just the cars to take them on.

Australia’s love affair with the Audi Sport models is well known and these new RS models are destined to make a very big impression on the ‘sport compact class’ where they arrive in Australia in the second quarter of 2020.