Cape Town - We could spend spend a lot of time arguing whether therev is any point whatsoever to a sports SUV. After all, why create an all-terrain vehicle with a high ground clearance, only to give it hardened suspension and low-profile tyres that are no use off-road?
But as pointless as it arguably is, I couldn’t help but enjoy driving Audi’s new RS Q3, the sports version of the brand’s smallest SUV. If there’s somebody out there who’s looking for a slightly elevated driving position with minimal compromises in roadholding, they could do worse.
It’s the first Audi SUV to carry the hallowed high-performance badge, and comes with the RS-appropriate power delivery and styling. In the engine bay is a 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbopetrol with 228kW and 420Nm of mile-gulping grunt. It’s the same power unit used in the TT RS and RS 3 Sportback, and it launches the RS Q3 from 0-100km/h in just 5.2 seconds and eventually on to a governed 250km/h top speed, according to Audi.
Supplying the matching visual flair are a matte aluminium styling package, rear diffuser, large roof spoiler, 18” mags, and a more hunkered-down stance thanks to RS sports suspension that lowers the body by 25mm.
Aluminium pedals, black headlining and sports seats in black alcantara synthetic suede spice up the look of the cabin, and enthusiast drivers can play with an RS menu that displays boost pressure and a lap timer. Standard spec includes a hard-drive based navigation system and a 465-watt Bose surround sound system.
With the Audi drive-select system drivers can influence the flap control for the exhaust system and the accelerator response. In the dynamic mode, throttle response is sharper and the five-cylinder engine delivers a sportier rasp.
Quattro all-wheel drive maximises traction on dry or wet tar, and during a spirited mountain-pass drive at the vehicle’s media launch last week, the RS Q3 displayed very tidy roadholding with minimal body roll. The sports suspension and low-profile tyres sharpen handling without delivering an uncomfortably bone-jarring ride as long as it’s a reasonably smooth road (but don’t even contemplate going off the tar).
Acceleration’s very zesty, and it’s delivered very smoothly through a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission. With the help of a start-stop system the high-performance Q3 sips just 8.8 litres of fuel per 100 km, according to Audi. Yours for R696 500. - Star Motoring