It’s the first of its kind and a curious one at that – the RS Q3 is powered by the 2.5-litre, five-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine from the TT RS and RS 3 Sportback fitted in Audi’s smallest (and least utility) SUVs.
The Q3 is perhaps my least favourite Audi, too impractical (i.e. compact) to be a true lifestyle vehicle and not rugged enough to offer much in the way of benefit over the A3 hatchback.
At 1,730kg the RS Q3 accelerates from 0-62mph in 5.5 seconds, thanks to its 306bhp and 310lb-ft (420Nm) of torque. That hardly makes it much of a firecracker, weighing around the same as the old B7 RS4, but with over 100bhp less fizz.
For the first time in its lifespan, Audi has fitted a start-stop system to the five-cylinder engine, which along with a regulated oil pump that only supplies lubricant when needed, contributes to a fuel economy figure of 32.1mpg and CO2 emissions of 206 g/km.
The 1-2-4-5-3 ignition sequence, together with the design of its air induction and exhaust systems, evokes the spirit of the legendary ur-Quattro from the 1980s (listen below), which will do doubt appeal to some, although we’d have thought Audi’s new 2.0-litre TFSi engine (as fitted to the latest S3) would have proven a better choice for most customers – with its 296bhp and 280lb-ft of torque.
Drivers can control the RS Q3’s exhaust flap and the responsiveness of its accelerator via the Audi drive select adaptive dynamics system, which is fitted as standard. It offers auto, comfort and dynamic modes, and in the latter throttle response is sharper and the engine sound more intense.
To handle the extra power the RS Q3 has been lowered 25mm compared to a standard Q3, and tuned to deliver less roll. A specially tuned electronic stabilisation control (ESC) is fitted as standard, which can be switched off entirely.
Further RS upgrades include an electromechanical rack and pinion steering, ventilated disc brakes (365mm diameter at the front) and eight-piston calipers painted black with RS logos.
While as you’d expect, there’s a raft of aesthetic changes to beef-up the effeminate Q3 including a high-gloss black honeycomb front grille and RS bumpers, quattro emblem on the air intake and large elliptical exhaust pipes sprouting from a distinctive rear diffuser.
At 4,410 mm in length, the RS Q3 is 25 mm longer than the standard car and weighs 1,730 kg – some 145kg more than the Q3 2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic.
There’s no word yet on pricing, but we’d expect the RS Q3 to cost around £42,000 when it goes on sale in the summer.