Audi RS Q3 2014

September 2, 2013
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Audi RS Q3 2015

Audi RS Q3 2015

Audi launched the Q3 and its innocent-enough lineup of four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines in the summer of 2011. Around the same time, the folks in Ingolstadt installed the fantastic turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder from the TT RS and RS3 into the innocuous-looking Audi RS Q3 crossover, and then decided to let journalists take extended drives in the prototype. We were among them, and when we drove the slightly detuned, 310-hp mash-up, we liked the result.

Of course, it wasn’t an utter surprise as we had discovered a few months earlier that Audi had applied to trademark a number of model designations that hinted at future beasts, an Audi RS Q3 2015 among them.

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The German automaker then revealed the 314-hp Q3 Vail concept, followed by the mechanically identical Jinlong Yufeng concept, and then—lo and behold—an Audi RS Q3 concept. The RS concept was fitted with the same straight-five, except that its output had been bumped to 360 horsepower, more than Audi would ultimately deliver, but the look was there. The concept’s huge, slanted air intakes previewed the RS6 Avant and RS7, and company reps made it clear that the final production model would look very much like the show car.

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And now comes the announcement of the production-spec Audi RS Q3, which debuts in Geneva. The crossover features the less-muscular variation of the growling five, making 310 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. Such power results in impressive acceleration: Audi claims the sprint from 0 to 62 mph takes 5.5 seconds. Top speed is a governed 155 mph. That’s considerably better than the next-most-powerful model in the Audi RS Q3 line, the 211-hp, 2.0-liter four, which Audi says needs 6.9 seconds for the standard sprint and tops out at 143. Sadly, but not surprisingly, the only available transmission is an automatic—Audi’s DQ500 seven-speed dual-clutch unit.

The engineers at Audi’s Quattro division have gone to lengths to upgrade the Audi RS Q3’s chassis to handle extra power of the RS variant. The new Audi RS Q3 is fitted with a sports suspension that sits nearly an inch lower than the standard Q3’s, and the battery has been moved under the cargo floor to improve weight distribution. Nineteen-inch wheels are standard and 20-inchers are available, the latter wearing 275/30 Pirelli P Zero rubber.

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Inside the Audi RS Q3, a flat-bottom steering wheel and sports seats with an available diamond-stitch pattern set a sporty theme, underscored by black, aluminum, or carbon-fiber décor and a gray gauge cluster with a speedometer that indicates up to 186 mph. The exterior is carried over largely unchanged from the Audi RS Q3 concept, although the twin exhaust outlets have been scrapped for a singular oval exit. But the crossover still looks mighty impressive, especially with the optional matte aluminum or black styling packages applied to the intake ducting trim, diffuser trim, and roof-spoiler fins.

Audi’s press release points out that the Audi RS Q3 is the quickest vehicle in its segment. That is true, but just barely: BMW claims its America-only X1 xDrive35i, with its 300-hp, turbocharged straight-six, takes 5.6 seconds to reach 62 mph, and thus merely a tenth longer than the Audi RS Q3, and the strongest X1 tops out at 149 mph—six clicks down on the Audi.

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Despite the splitting of hairs, we like the Audi RS Q3, which retails for €44,225 before taxes in Germany (roughly $59,000 at today’s exchange rates). The Audi RS Q3’s detuned engine leaves potential for future improvement, but is that a temptation Audi can resist? We’re hoping the answer is “no.”

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Audi RS Q3 2014 Rival
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Audi RS Q3 2014 rival with a brand new Toyota Camry 3.5L V6 268hp engine for only US$20,000.
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