RoadTrip | No “rescue” for the five-cylinder engine of the RS Q3 Sportback on a one-off visit to NSRI

The Audi RS Q3 Sportback is powered by a unique five-cylinder turbocharged engine.

The RoadTrip team visits NSRI Station 3, founded around the same time as Audi.

The RS Q3 Sportback is retailed from R1 150,000.

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The latest RS Q3 is perhaps the last of its kind in the Audi lineup and the latest Q model powered by Ingolstadt’s famous five-cylinder turbo engine. In recognition of this iconic piece of engineering and before the holiday season, we visited station 3, one of IRSN’s oldest rescue stations.

Ferdi de Vos, RoadTrip editor

Ah, that sound. When the RS Q3 Sportback’s five-cylinder engine starts up with a specific, slightly unbalanced harmony – produced by its special firing order – filling the air with a beautiful sound as it emanates from those big black exhausts.

We were at the Cape Town Waterfront, busy with a photoshoot involving the crew from Station 3 of the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) aboard their trusty rescue vessel, proudly emblazoned with Rescue 3, and I found all kinds of reasons to continue to move the Audi. Just to listen to that haunting, sonorous sound – amplified in RS mode.

Skillfully skippered by the station commander Marc de Vos, the class 1 ship appeared. Guided by radio messages from veteran NSRI volunteer Paula Leech, he lined it up perfectly in various places so photographer Ryan Abbott could take the necessary photos of the RS Q3 with Rescue 3 walking past.

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Rescue 3

The NSRI, established in 1967 with a single boat and a handful of crew members, has grown exponentially in six decades (much like Audi, founded around the same time) and now has 44 rescue bases across the country , 21 supervised beaches and 100 lifeboats.

Station 3 was one of the first NSRI stations to be established, initially located at Three Anchor Bay before merging with Station 1, moved to Granger Bay, then to East Pier at the V&A Waterfront, before moving to its current location: Bob Deacon Base.

The large and busy sea rescue base currently houses 36 trained crew members and 16 trainees. They are on call one week at a time, every three weeks and attend other sessions, looking after trainees, various classes of trainee coxswain, says Marc, an oceanographer who joined Sea Rescue 12 years ago. and has been operating station 3 since August 2019..

“Ad hoc training covering current issues or needed upgrades is also provided, so all crew members are engaged often enough to keep them sharp and focused,” De Vos said. It escalated even further ahead of the holiday season, and the NSRI graciously allowed us to use one of these photography training drills with the RS Q3.

Audi RS Q3 Sportback 2021

An iconic engine

Audi saved the glorious five-cylinder turbo engine – an important part of its brand’s DNA since its first introduction 45 years ago – from an untimely demise before.

In the 2000s, the multi-award winning engine was in need of a major overhaul due to strict emissions controls. Fortunately, an order from VW Mexico for a five-cylinder mill in the US Jetta market justified the revival of the five-cylinder turbo tradition and saved it from an ignominious end.

Modernized with direct fuel injection and a displacement of 2.5 liters, the engine made a comeback in the Audi TT RS in 2009. After further development, the reworked 2.5 TFSI, with more power, weight lower, lower consumption and lower emissions, debuted. in the new generation TT RS in 2016.

Now, as used in the restyled Sportback, the iconic engine is 26kg lighter than its predecessor and 17% more powerful. This is due to an aluminum crankcase (saving 18 kg), adjustable camshafts, plasma coated cylinder liners, a hollow crankshaft with smaller main bearings and aluminum pistons with integrated channels for cooling of the cylinder. oil.

Audi RS Q3 Sportback

Audi RS Q3 Sportback 2021

RS performance

With 294 kW of power and a maximum torque of 480 Nm available, fed to the Quattro drive system via a seven-speed S tronic transmission, the Nardo Gray Sportback (with R175 480 options, including Matrix LED lights and l (glossy black appearance and Plus package black), turned out to be deceptively fast.

The crossover coupe SUV went from zero to 100 km / h in just 4.5 seconds (using Launch Control), then pushed relentlessly towards its (limited) top speed of 250 km / h. Plus, with its downward sloping roofline and pronounced flared wheel arches, the Sportback looks even more muscular than its standard RS Q3 sibling.

Its performance aspirations are further underscored by a glossy black Singleframe honeycomb grille under flat RS slots, large side air intakes, boomerang-shaped blades in the bumper, a bezel line low rear, an RS-specific roof spoiler and double-spoke exhausts with large oval tailpipes.

Given its RS credentials, we obviously negotiated some of the twisty mountain sections of the Cape region, but when we really pushed hard through the corners, it became clear that the Sportback’s handling was slightly limited by its riding attributes. crossing.

Even with a suspension lowered by 10mm compared to the normal Q3 model, it still rides higher than an RS 3 and is heavier, slightly compromising its stability to the limit. Shod in high-performance 21-inch rubber and fitted with dynamic chassis control, it turned flat and quickly, but its steering, while direct and precise, was somewhat artificial, making you feel slightly removed from the action.

Audi RS Q3 Sportback

Audi RS Q3 Sportback 2021 with “Rescue 3”

It still has top handling and offers prodigious grip, although this is offset by a fairly harsh ride quality (we suggest selecting comfort or automatic mode on the MMI for normal driving). Plus, her ventilated and perforated red-painted RS brakes are super efficient, and inside, unlike the sparsely equipped Rescue 3, the five-seater is lavishly equipped.

Nappa leather sport seats, now with a honeycomb pattern, contrast stitching and Alcantara inlays are snug and comfortable, and there are RS logos throughout. The glossy black MMI touchscreen integrates seamlessly and the special RS displays in the Audi virtual cockpit provide additional performance information.

Still, we don’t quite understand the rationale for such a fast and powerful compact SUV. In our opinion, the RS3 Sportback is the best option if you want that kind of performance. Even so, the RS Q3 Sportback, with a base price of R1 150,000, offers better value for money than competitors such as the BMW X3 M40i and the Mercedes-AMG GLC43 4Matic.

What makes this RS Q3 even more remarkable is the possibility that it will be the last iteration of this model in its current form. Audi’s relentless push towards electric mobility makes it unlikely that the legendary five-cylinder turbo engine will be saved.


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