I remember driving the first-generation Audi RSQ3 and thinking, ‘this has all the ingredients, but it just doesn’t quite feel like it has been cooked enough’.
It was the first ever SUV from Audi to wear the RS badge, and it made the sporty arm of the four-ring brand’s line-up more attainable than ever – at that stage, it was the first sub-$100,000 RS to be sold in Australia.
This RSQ3 Sportback edition 10 years does not, however, slip under that pricing barrier – but unlike the original take on the RSQ3, this is a well-rounded, rapid and rich feeling small SUV.
I spent a few days with it, and I wish I didn’t have to give it back. Read on to find out why.
This celebratory model will set you back $102,900 before on-road costs.
For context, here’s the RSQ3 line-up pricing:
- Audi RSQ3: $96,100
- Audi RSQ3 Sportback: $99,100
- Audi RSQ3 Sportback edition 10 years: $102,900
All prices exclude on-road costs.
This special model is limited to just 555 units worldwide, and Audi Australia has confirmed our market will be “receiving between 10 and 20 per cent” of that total production run.
So, this is a pretty rare thing, and for just a few grand more than the ‘regular’ RSQ3 Sportback, it seems like a good choice…
That is, of course, if you are okay with Chronos Grey metallic as the colour you get – it comes at not cost – or if you are fine to spend $8900 on Dew Silver Matte paint, which is new to the Q3 line.
Should you choose the normal version, there’d be metallic options like Mythos Black, Turbo Blue, Tango Red, Glacier White, the eye-catching Kyalami Green prestige paint, or Daytona Grey pearl or Nardo Grey solid paint.
It offers the typical Audi sensibility in terms of design and presentation, however, with some amazing and thoughtful flourishes that make this feel a bit more special.
I love the microfibre steering wheel grip, and there are grippy sections on the seats to keep you in place.
Between those parts you’ll find quilted leather which looks and feels amazing, and while the front seats are manually adjustable (at $100,000 plus, that seems rough), they do have excellent adjustability to them.
There is an easy to use touchscreen media system with buttons and dials below the screen for climate control settings, seat heating, fan and more. There’s also a volume knob, plus a drive select controller and a hill descent control button – not sure I’d be using that very often.
The driver gets Audi’s Virtual Cockpit setup with a big screen that offers great usability, and a funny thing I love about this generation of Q3 include the very chunky door handles. I also appreciate the ambient lighting through this cabin – on the front and back doors, and on the dashboard, too – which makes a bit of a difference to the wow factor in the cabin.
The lack of a sunroof might seem a bit of a concern for buyers shopping at this level, but you can option a panoramic roof for $2700.
When it comes to storage there are big door pockets with bottle holders, a pair of cupholders between the seats, a wireless phone charger in front of the shifter, and a relatively small covered centre console.
Back seat occupant space is quite good, even though the sloping roofline of the Sportback model does take some space away.
I managed to fit four adults in this car. One of them was a 190cm male in the back seat, and he was surprised by how much space he had.
Foot room and shoulder space is good, and the rear seat has a bit of sculpture to it, so it’s definitely going to be more comfortable for two occupants than three – backing that up is a large transmission tunnel that does eat into foot space down between those seats.
If you plan to use it as a family car, there are ISOFIX points in the window seats, plus three top-tether points as well.
Keeping back-seat riders comfy are a pair of directional air vents and two USB-C chargers, plus a 12V plug, and storage is pretty well sorted with bottle holders in the doors, a flip down armrest with pop-up cupholders, but one thing you won’t find in the back of his car are seat back map pockets – they aren’t on these sports bucket seats.
The cargo hold is pretty generous, with a claimed 530 litres of cargo capacity on offer. The sweeping roofline does eat into the space to a degree, but thankfully there is a cargo cover to prevent any potential damage, and the electric boot lid will stop itself from closing down on something if you’ve squished too much in.
There is no spare wheel – you get a tyre repair kit.
No power bump for the special edition, but let us know if you think it needed one in the comments!
As such, it has a 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo-petrol engine, with 294kW of power (7000rpm) and 480Nm of torque (1950-5850rpm). Those outputs are outrageous as it is, enough for the RSQ3 to claim a 0-100km/h time of 4.5 seconds.
In order to be that fast, it makes use of a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, and has quattro all-wheel drive. Naturally.
Any time I drive a car with a five-cylinder engine, I come away with the same thought: “Why aren’t there more of these?!”
That’s certainly the case for the RS five-pot in the Q3, which is an absolute delight. It is smooth, linear, and sounds terrific as well, especially under hard throttle. The roll-on acceleration is tremendous, and it is engaging, enthralling and enthusiastic.
It isn’t perfect, though – there is some low-rev lag and, while testing out the powertrain against that claimed 0-100 time, I saw it get bogged down a little bit from a standing start when launching.
For the record, the digital timer on the dashboard that can measure your 0-100, 0-200, quarter mile and lap times is a great talking point. And not for the record, the best I saw was 5.0sec.
The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is also very good; fast to react and very smooth shifting. It offers those telltale ultra-snappy shifts under hard acceleration, with paddle shifters if you want to take matters into your own hands. I didn’t do that, I left the car in auto in the RS drive mode, and it never left me wanting anything other than what it chose.
I did note, though, that when I cold-started the car (winter, Blue Mountains, 7am, so properly cold), it had a tendency to feel like it was riding the clutch in reverse and at low speeds in forward gears.
I love the steering in this car – it has a nice weighting and reactiveness to it, imbuing it with some amazing dynamism. There is just a hint of understeer in really really tight corners when you’re pushing hard but in most situations, it is very rewarding and extremely enjoyable.
It’s also easy to park and easy to live with in urban driving scenarios, aided by a high-quality surround-view camera system that gives you a great view around the car, and doesn’t get all fuzzy looking when you’re parking it at night, as many others can.
The ride comfort is probably the thing that blew me away most from the drive experience, because it’s riding on 21-inch wheels so it arguably doesn’t deserve to be as cushy or comfortable as it is. Adaptive dampers adjust the firmness of the ride but even in the most assertive modes, it is never too firm or too hard. It is supple and controlled.
It’s quiet and refined as well, making it a potential option for those who maybe just want the top-spec model for all the luxury perks that it comes with, because hey, who on earth is thinking “I want a small SUV to go to the track in!”?
So, if you don’t need all this power, you’re still getting a fantastic and luxurious small SUV that just happens to be a weapon as well.
For context, these are the changes you see on the RSQ3 edition 10 years over the standard versions of the car.
Highlights of the special edition include 21-inch light double-spoke alloys finished in black, black brake calipers, darkened internal bits on the Matrix LED headlights, and a bunch of gloss black exterior accents.
Inside, there are special leather-Dinamica RS bucket seats (exclusive to this spec) with matte carbon shells, a new jet black upholstery finish, copper top-stitching, matte-finish carbon inlays, and edition-specific illuminated door sill trims that project a 3D Audi Sport red diamond onto the ground when the doors are open.
And now, here’s what that builds upon in terms of standard gear for the regular RSQ3:
- Audi connect plus Navigation & Infotainment services including: Online traffic information with hazard alert, parking information, weather, fuel prices, Google Services
- Audi connect plus Security & Assistance services including: Car finder with remote signal, remote lock & unlock, emergency call, online roadside assistance
- 10.1-inch touchscreen
- Wired or wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- Satellite navigation
- Wireless phone charging
- 15-speaker Sonos sound system
- Progressive variable-ratio steering
- RS sport exhaust
- RS-specific Audi drive select modes
- RS sports suspension with adaptive dampers
- RS-specific body styling
- Black exterior styling package
- Power tailgate
- Keyless entry and push-button start
- Rear privacy glass
- Auto lights
- Auto wipers
- Dark headlining
- Tri-zone climate control
There’s a lot more, but check out our pricing and specs story if you want to see the lists.
The Audi Q3 range has a five-star rating from ANCAP based on Euro NCAP testing conducted in 2018 – but the rating doesn’t apply to the RSQ3 model.
Even so, the range comes as standard with a range of technology, such as:
- Low- and high-speed autonomous emergency braking (up to 250km/h) with pedestrian and cyclist detection (5-85km/h)
- Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
- Lane departure warning
- Lane keeping assistance
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic assist
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Front, front-side and curtain airbags
There’s a standard surround-view camera on this grade, too. Plus the RS has the biggest brakes of any Audi Q3, so there’s that.
The official combined cycle fuel consumption figure for the RSQ3 variants is 8.9 litres per 100 kilometres, and if you get that on a regular basis, you’re probably the sort of person who buys the most expensive car for the status, rather than the speed.
Over a short loan in the edition 10 years, I saw a real-world indicated figure of 9.6L/100km, which I thought was pretty good considering I gave it a bit of a hard time through some bendy bits and tested its acceleration on more than one occasion.
It requires the most expensive 98 RON premium unleaded, and has a 63-litre fuel tank capacity.
As for ongoing considerations, Audi now backs its models with a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, on par with most luxury and mainstream rivals.
There’s a capped-price servicing plan of sorts – a prepaid service pack is available for a five-year/75,000km duration, and it costs $3580. That’s not too bad, considering this is a premium performance SUV.
There’s also roadside assistance available at no cost.
It’s hard not to be enamoured with a car like the Audi RSQ3 edition 10 years. One has to wonder how much longer we will see high-performance petrol-powered cars like this from the brand, let alone with a five-cylinder engine.
It’s a tremendously fun, functional, and fiendishly fancy compact SUV. Australia should count itself lucky to be in line for such a big share of the global output of these special models.
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MORE: Everything Audi RSQ3