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Q-Ball – 2020 Audi NZ RS Q3 Sportback review

In the game of snooker or billiards, the cue ball controls all the action. Aside from the way it connects with the cue stick, it wizzes around the table interacting with the entire field getting in and out of trouble and ultimately making players (well the winners) happy. In many ways, much like Audi New Zealand’s new RS Q3 Sportback. It too wizzes about the place getting you in and out of trouble plus it’s definitely a ‘ball’ to drive. However, unlike the round billiard table dweller, Audi’s Q is sharply designed and its colour is far from ‘bland’ ivory white.

Kyalami green is what PR says about the neon colour that my Audi RS Q3 Sportback review model came dressed in and it means ‘my home’ in Zulu and (possibly more importantly) is the name of a racetrack in South Africa. It’s as bright as Las Vegas strip and as loud as a jackpot ringing slot machine. But it’s not all bark with no bite with this compact sporty SUV. You see, under its bright green shroud lies a highly-tuned and very powerful 5-cylinder 2.5L turbo engine and an Audi advanced Quattro drive system to help keep it fixed to the ground.

Audi NZ RS Q3 Sportback review

The new RS Q3 comes with a more expressive design which includes the brand’s 80s Quattro language and it also comes in two different silhouettes (SUV and Sportback SUV). It showcases their new gloss black singleframe grille (mine came with blackened out Audi rings too), boomerang-shaped blades in the bumper that are designed exclusively for the RS Q3, large lower air vents and bright LED headlights. 

Audi NZ RS Q3 Sportback review

What’s more, the Sportback that I had the keys to, has a downward sloping coupe-like roof line which visually lowers its centre of gravity, (which is already 10mm lower than the normal Q3, making the RS Q3 appear more muscular, oh and the larger 21-inch wheels sure help the cause too.

Audi NZ RS Q3 Sportback review

The rear comes with its own special set of RS tweaks and with its low rear window and roof edge spoiler in gloss black the RS Q3 Sportback appears even wider than its SUV style sibling. It has a dual-brand RS exhaust system with large oval tailpipes that sit inside an RS-specific bumper complete with rear diffuser and horizontal blades in gloss black and it’s all topped off with LED lights.

Audi NZ RS Q3 Sportback review

Despite the cool-looking sloping roofline, the cabin is rather spacious, it’ll happily seat four (and a fifth should you wish to get better acquainted). Leather covers the seats with the front being RS embossed, Alcantara trim breaks up the dashboard line as does the large (and very connected) infotainment screen and virtual cockpit. The D-shaped steering wheel feels great in the hand and includes the all-important RS button that links to the drive-mode set up in the MMI system. 

Audi NZ RS Q3 Sportback review

RS1 and RS2 are individual driving modes than can be configured to make the RS Q3 drive to YOUR preference. Want soft suspension but quick throttle, go right ahead. Want a loud exhaust note but less responsive steering, be my guest. Or simply set everything to ‘Dynamic’ and hold on tight.

I say hold on tight as its ‘International Engine of the Year’ 2.5 TFSI quattro engine produces 294kW of power and 480Nm of torque has the RS Q3 Sportback sprinting from 0-100 km/h in just 4.5 seconds. Its power hs been increased a whopping 17% on previous numbers and thanks to its reduced size and aluminium crankcase the engine is 26kg lighter than the previous model. Which as we all know, in motorsport terms, less weight equals more horsepower.

As luck would have it, I had some errands to run around the Clevedon area of greater Auckland during my time with the RS Q3 Sportback and that meant enjoying the extensive range of twists and turns that make up that neck of the woods (or coastline to be more exact).

The combination of lowered RS sport suspension, RS-tuned progressive steering, powerful engine, seven-speed S tronic gearbox and of course its quattro permanent all-wheel drive, all added up to an exhilarating ride. It’s not like Audi’s heavyweight RS 7 V8 type of power, (that’s deep and guttural and seemingly endless), it’s more agile than that, more nippy, more featherweight, but rest assured, it’s got plenty of sting in its tail. It feels fast because it is fast, supported by the distinctly iconic 5-cylinder note that enters the cabin nicely when the revs start heading north of 5,000.

Audi NZ RS Q3 Sportback review

Easy to park, plenty of luggage space (530L) and sporty yet refined design, the new Audi New Zealand RS Q3 Sportback is a standout pocket rocket, especially in Kyalami green. And although I’ve said it once I’ll say it again so you’re sure, this Q is an absolute ball to drive.

Both RS Q3 models come with Audi New Zealand Cover as standard, which includes a 5 year /150,000kms warranty, Audi Roadside Assist and a three-year Audi Motoring Plan. The RS Q3 is priced from $111,900 plus on-road costs and the RS Q3 Sportback from $114,900 plus on-road costs. There are also a variety of optional extras, allowing you to customise the vehicle.

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