Audi RS Q3

If there are two things that people can’t get enough of at the moment it’s hot hatchbacks and SUV cars. The Audi RS Q3 Performance, then, could be the best of both worlds.

It combines the rapid turn of pace of the RS3 hatchback but in a fashionable and practical Q3 body. This new Performance model is the range-topping version, producing 362bhp from its orchestral 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine. Prices start from £49,175.

It certainly looks the part, though. Bulging arches, beautiful 20-inch alloy wheels and a subtle body kit tell you that this is no ordinary Q3. Inside, quilted leather, carbon fibre detailing and a flat-bottomed steering wheel give it that typical premium Audi feel.

Thumb the starter button and the five-cylinder engine barks into life- if you want the volume cranked up a little bit more Audi will sell you an optional and throatier sports exhaust.

The RS Q3 also comes with Audi’s Drive Select system as standard which serves up different driving modes such as comfort, auto and dynamic. Left in comfort the RS Q3 feels a lot softer in all of its responses, with a cushioned ride, quiet engine and smooth changes from the gearbox.

Crack it up to dynamic and the Audi takes on a new layer of aggression, like the quiet guy in the pub who has just had his pint knocked over. The whole car stiffens, up the steering becomes weightier and the engine delivers ever last ounce of power it has.

It’s not the most exciting car to drive- it feels as if it’s stuck in two minds trying to decide between being a hot hatch or practical SUV. But therein lies the beauty of the RS Q3, a fabulously fast and useable everyday car. Of course there’s going to be a compromise somewhere.

Jonathan Burn

Jonathan Burn is a world renowned automotive journalist, and Ape's resident car expert with a deep appreciation for anything that drives fast.