With the drive select system in Comfort mode, it’s a smooth and refined motor that’s happy to mooch along at less than 2000rpm with barely a murmur coming from under the bonnet. That’s what 343Ib ft of torque at just 1650rpm will do for you.
Put your foot down and the standard dual-clutch 'box shuffles down a couple of gears and the engine emits a deliciously warbly soundtrack that instantly has you picturing Walter Röhrl hammering down a forest stage in his Group B Quattro. Switch to dynamic mode and you open a flap in the exhaust for the full special stage effect; it’ll even pop and bang on the overrun.
Sadly, Dynamic mode also brings additional weight to the steering that is anything but welcome; there’s an unpleasant artificial feel to the wheel with no additional feedback. Annoyingly, you can’t even configure an individual mode to have the much more natural feeling comfort steering and louder exhaust for the full Group B histrionics.
When - not if - the soundtrack eggs you into cornering harder, you’ll find your typical RS Audi balance. There’s plenty of traction, but you won’t be marvelling at the throttle adjustability in the dry, mainly because there isn’t any.
Push beyond the limit and you’ll find lots of safety-first understeer even with the ESP turned off. Our experience suggests it’s a little bit more interesting in the wet but not necessarily as predictable as you might expect with everything switched off.
But then the RS Q3 was never about thrill-a-minute handling. Where it excels is in combining addictively rapid performance with everyday usability. Even on non-adjustable dampers, it strikes a fine balance between body control and ride comfort and is as easy to drive and practical as any other Q3. Adaptive dampers are optional, but we’d probably save ourselves a few quid and stick to the standard set-up.
Inside, you get leather and Alcantara upholstery as standard, along with carbonfibre trim with a blue thread running through it. It may sound a little boy racer, but it actually looks pretty smart in conjunction with blue highlights on the seats. Quality for the most part is good, although the lower reaches of the dash consist of hard plastics.