Audi RSQ3 review 2021

The RSQ3 is a sporty compact SUV that delivers a great mix of performance and practicality

£41,141
Average price
Loading...
2
Out of 5

Pros

  • Superb engine
  • Well-equipped
  • Practical interior

Cons

  • Expensive to buy
  • Steep running costs
  • Firm ride on standard suspension
  • MPG

    0 - 0

  • CO2

    202 - 204 g/km

Model review

You might know Audi’s ‘RS’ nameplate best for its appearances on fast saloons and estate cars, but as SUVs have gathered more momentum and popularity, the German firm has increasingly turned its attention to hot RS-badged cars that are a bit further up off the ground. 

And it’s the Audi RSQ3 that was the brand’s first sporty SUV, arriving in showrooms in 2013. Based on the somewhat ordinary Q3, Audi’s RS division installed the same unique and characterful five-cylinder engine from the RS3 and TTRS under the bonnet. It was also, unsurprisingly, accompanied by far more aggressive styling, with a menacing-looking bodykit and large single exhaust pipe at the rear helping to make it easier to distinguish. 

Just a couple of years later, the RSQ3 would be updated at the same time as the regular Q3, with Audi increasing the power from 306bhp to 335bhp. That wasn’t the end, though. Oh no, as Audi would be back a year later in 2016 with a new flagship ‘Performance’ model, with this developing 362bhp and sitting above the standard RSQ3. It also got a unique set of 20-inch alloy wheels, matt titanium detailing and Alcantara sports seats as standard.

Latest model

Audi’s original sports SUV would return in 2020 for a second generation and this time buyers would have the choice of the standard SUV bodystyle or a sleeker-looking Sportback version that offers more coupe-like styling. 

Audi kept the model’s well-loved five-cylinder engine, though this time it would kick out a generous 395bhp – enabling a 0-60mph time of just 4.3 seconds. It would also gain a more modern design and – like the standard Q3 – far more in the way of interior technology. 

Value for money

It should come as no surprise that a powerful premium SUV doesn’t come in cheap, and that’s the case here, with prices for the RSQ3 starting from £54,135 for the regular model and £55,285 for the Sportback. Prices rise to more than £60,000 for the top-spec Vorsprung versions, too. It is an awful lot of money, though a generous kit list and strong performance do help to justify that price. 

Used RSQ3s are starting to look like good value for money, though, with tidy examples now available from under £20,000 for the first generation. New-shape models had only been on sale for around a year at the time of writing, but with up to around £8,000 available off nearly-new examples, it represents a significant saving off the list price, if not quite as sizable as some you might get with rivals. 

Looks and image

Sporty SUVs are cars you’ll either love or hate, but if you’re looking for something more practical – and arguably more stylish – than a conventional hot hatch, they’re well worth considering. That’s the case with the RSQ3, which gets far more aggressive styling next to the regular Q3, with its large oval tailpipes and angular front-end. It’s even bolder if you get the ‘Audi Sport Edition’, which gets a complete blacked-out look. 

Inside, the RSQ3 receives plenty of Alcantara, sports seats and a trademark flat-bottomed steering wheel to separate it from the regular Q3, though from there onwards it’s much the same as the regular SUV. That means you get an excellent large digital dial system and touchscreen as standard, while the quality is generally very good, though there are a few cheaper plastics on show that feel a bit disappointing on a £60,000 car. 

Behind the wheel, the RSQ3’s show-stopping attribute is its superb 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine, which is packed with character – delivering astonishing pace and having a great soundtrack to go with it. It’s worth finding a car fitted with Dynamic Chassis Control (available on all bar the base trim level) that makes the RSQ3 surprisingly comfortable and compliant even on rough roads and with large alloy wheels. Stick with the regular suspension setup, though, and the ride is firm to say the least. 

Space and practicality

An RSQ3 is likely to appeal to those that like a hot hatch but want something a bit bigger and ‘grown-up’. In that respect, it really impresses, with both the regular car and Sportback  offering a generous 530 litres of boot space.Sliding rear seats are fitted to both cars, but it’s only when you fold the rear bench that the practicality differences between the regular model and sleeker Sportback models emerge – the ‘coupe’ version having 1,400 litres of room next to 1,525 litres with the regular car. 

Unsurprisingly there’s less headroom with the Sportback, too, though all but the tallest adults will likely still find space plentiful enough.

Engines

We’ve mentioned the RSQ3’s engine already and it really is a highlight – a turbocharged 2.5-litre unit. One of its interesting quirks is the fact it has five cylinders (a rarity in today’s market). It produces 495bhp and 480Nm of torque, enabling a 0-60mph time of just 4.3 seconds and a top speed of 155mph, or 174mph if an optional package is selected that raises the limiter. 

A seven-speed S tronic automatic gearbox is also used, with power being delivered to all four wheels via Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system. 

Running costs

It’s safe to say quite deep pockets will be needed for the RSQ3, what with the model returning just a claimed 29mpg, and with CO2 emissions of 227g/km. That said, Audi has made a number of measures to improve efficiency, so it’ll be far better in this respect than its predecessor. 

Also just be aware that road tax will be steep when the model is between one and six years old, as it attracts a more expensive rate of tax due to its high list price. 

Things to look out for

Due to the RSQ3 being sold in quite limited numbers, not a huge amount is known about its reliability. That said, as with any performance car, look out for any signs of neglect and make sure it has been maintained well before buying. 

Rivals

Key competitors for the Audi RSQ3 include the Porsche Macan and Mercedes-AMG GLA 45, both of which offer similarly upmarket interiors and strong performance. If you’re willing to try something with a bit less power – and that is a bit more affordable – the Cupra Ateca, Volkswagen Tiguan R and BMW X2 M35i are all worth consideration. 

Depreciation

With SUVs being in particular demand, the Audi RSQ3 has held onto its value quite well, particularly for a model of this price. The higher-spec and more menacing-looking Audi Sport Edition and Vorsprung models remain those that are more in-demand with buyers. 

Which RSQ3 to pick

Cheapest to buy when new

RS Q3 TFSI Quattro 5dr S Tronic Rs Q3

Most MPG

RS Q3 TFSI Quattro 5dr S Tronic Rs Q3

Fastest model (0-60)

RS Q3 TFSI Quattro 5dr S Tronic Rs Q3

Trims explained

Three trim levels are available on the RSQ3 – the standard car, the Audi Sport Edition and the top-spec Vorsprung. Equipment highlights and prices are as follows.

RSQ3

All RSQ3s get a long list of equipment as standard, including LED lights at the front and rear, RS sports suspension, Nappa leather sports seats, electric and heated front seats and dual-zone climate control. It also comes with a 10.1-inch touchscreen, a 12.3-inch digital cockpit system, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and cruise control. Twenty-inch alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry and start and autonomous emergency braking with lane keep assist are also included.

From £54,135

RSQ3 Audi Sport Edition

Upgrading to the Audi Sport Edition brings dark tinted Matrix LED headlights, black 21-inch alloy wheels and a full black styling pack, including to the grille, door mirrors, roof rails and window trim surrounds. Piano black interior inlays, an RS sports exhaust system and panoramic sunroof are also fitted.

From £59,050

RSQ3 Vorsprung

At the top of the range, the Vorsprung adds 21-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, carbon door mirrors, extended ambient lighting and a more advanced sports suspension setup. Carbon interior inlays also feature, along with wireless smartphone charging and a Bang & Olufsen sound system. Far more driver assistance tech is added, too, including a 360-degree camera system, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and rear-cross traffic assist.

From £62,600

Summary

  1. Superb five-cylinder engine
  2. Blistering performance
  3. Regular SUV or sleeker Sportback model available
  4. Comfortable… as long as adaptive dampers are optioned
  5. Practical interior
  6. Loads of technology
  7. Quality is largely good…
  8. If a few cheaper plastics
  9. Generous equipment levels
  10. One of the best compact sports SUVs you can buy

Related news

View Audi news archive
View all Motors.co.uk reviews