$50-100K: 7th - Audi RS Q3

The RS Q3 is the most performance-savvy SUV we’ve ever had at BFYB.

The most affordable RS-badged Audi to date should’ve given this year’s event a bigger shake than second-last in $50-$100K category. So what gives?

Forget excuses of family-friendly packaging: the RS Q3 packs RennSport-spec hard-ware fit for BFYB battle.

A bespoke 228kW/420Nm turbo five, twin-clutcher quattro drive, huge brakes and, with 255mm of tyre at each corner, more footprint than any other 2014 BFYB competitor.

Sure, it’s a hefty 1730kg, but it’s not the heaviest of the field by a long mark. Nor, at $81,900, the priciest.

Even a cursory glance at the numbers tells the story. Its 5.52sec 0-100km/h and 13.81sec 0-400m times were better by most, including a two-tonne Chrysler.

But the <really> interesting benchmark was Audi’s own S3 Sportback, which was over a half-second quicker everywhere. And does with one less cylinder, 22 fewer kilowatts and a 40Nm deficit.   

Ingolstadt’s cheaper, more humbly endowed hatchback was also quicker than RS Q3’s 3.57sec 80-120km/h time. And the difference in braking between the Audis was just eight centimetres from 100km/h to a dead stop.

Yes, S3 with S-tronic is 210kg lighter, but the Volvo, which is 50kg heavier than the hyper-SUV, scored better numbers in all straight line tests bar none.

That RennSport-fettled chassis, with its (theoretical) grip advantage, had a chance to turn the table on the circuit. But of the eight class competitors, its 1:05.30sec lap was third slowest, only ahead of the big boy Chrysler and Lexus IS350 F-Sport.

Nor was it’s corner speed anything to brag about. And while the RS Q3 was quicker through Turn Seven than this little brother S3, the $22K-more-affordable and less-powerful device from the German marque was a clear 1.9sec quicker around the Winton circuit. Go figure…

Perhaps the RS Q3 is a case of the right badge, price and raw ingredients, but a formulae not fully resolved. Frankly, the SUV format shouldn’t, on paper, hamstring the RS Q3 for anything bar a weight penalty.

Instead, this sprog-hauler sits unnecessarily high – perhaps adversely affecting its centre of gravity – and can’t muster up the sharpness and grip we’ve come to expect from RennSport-badged Audis.

This, together with what feels a too soft and conservative tune by the RS skunkworks, has left what couldn’t been a hell-raising SUV feeling a bit nobbled to its true potential. And, thus, the judges scored it accordingly. 

Results
$50-100K placing – 7th
Overall placing – 19th 
Judges' ranking – 17th

0-100km/h – 5.52sec (7th)
0-400m – 13.81sec @ 161.81km/h (8th)
Lap Time – 1:45.30sec (9th)
Price – $81,900 (20th)

Specs
Engine 2480cc inline-5, DOHC, 20v, turbo
Power 228kW @ 5200rpm
Torque 420Nm @ 1500rpm
Weight 1730kg
Gearbox 7-speed dual-clutch
Suspension struts, anti-roll bar (f); multi-links, anti-roll bar (r)
Brakes 365mm drilled/ventilated discs, 8-piston calipers (f); 310mm drilled/ventilated discs, single piston calipers (r)
Wheels 19 x 8.5-inch (f/r)
Tyres 255/40 R19 Dunlop SP QuattroMaxx (f/r)

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