Audi has added the first in what company insiders suggest will eventually be an extended range of SUVs to its high performance RS line-up with the unveiling of the new 228kW turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder-powered RS Q3.
Click on photo for more views of the Audi RS Q3.
Set to get its first its first public outing at the 2013 Geneva motor show next month, the new RS Q3 crowns the popular Q3 line-up with straight line performance that puts it at the sharp end of the compact SUV ranks, ahead of competition such as the turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder BMW X1.
But with more athletic competition in the form of Mercedes-Benz's upcoming GLA45 AMG, which is rumoured to receive the same 265kW turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine as the recently revealed A45 AMG, looming, the powered up Q3 won't have it all its own way.
Previewed in concept car form at last year's Beijing motor show, the RS Q3 is distinguished from lesser Q3 models by a series of tradition RS design elements. Included is a high gloss black honeycomb grille insert, matt aluminum grille frame, deeper front bumper with sizeable air ducts for the engine bay and front brakes, coloured keyed wheel arch flares, deeper sills underneath the doors, matte aluminium look exterior mirror housings, more prominent spoiler atop the tailgate, deeper rear bumper with integral diffuser unit and larger chrome tailpipe. The new front and rear bumpers add 25mm to the length over the Q3, extending it to 4410mm.
At the heart of the new go-fast SUV is Audi's turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder petrol engine, as used in the TT RS and recently discontinued RS3. In the RS Q3, the transversely mounted unit kicks out 228kW at 5200rpm along with a sturdy 420Nm of torque on a band of revs between 1500 and 5200rpm.
Up until now the most powerful Q3 model has been the 2.0 TFSI. Its turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine delivers 155kW at 5000rpm and 300Nm of torque from between 1800rpm and 4900rpm.
The heady reserves are channeled through a standard seven-speed S-tronic dual clutch gearbox offering three drive modes: D (drive), S (sport) and M (manual). Also included is a launch control function designed to provide optimal traction under hard standing start acceleration.
Drive is permanently transferred through an electro-hydraulic operated multi-plate Haldex style clutch four-wheel drive system to each wheel with the distribution between the front and rear varying depending on the amount of available grip.
Audi claims the 1730kg RS Q3 sprints from 0 to 100 kmh in 5.5 seconds and hits a top speed electronically limited to 250km/h. With the adoption of automatic stop/start – a first for Audi's turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine, Ingolstadt's latest performance model is also claimed to return 8.8L/100km on the combined European test cycle, giving it an average CO2 emission rating of 206g/km.
By comparison the Q3 2.0 TFSI boasts figures of 6.9sec, 230 kmh, 7.7L/100km and 179g/km respectively.
The increase in performance has seen myriad changes to the suspension, which has been lowered by 25mm over other Q3 models and is fitted with stiffer springs and dampers and larger diameter anti-roll bars for added body control. The RS Q3 rolls on 19 inch wheels as standards, with a selection of three different 20 inch rims available as an option. The brakes have also been upgraded with large 365mm discs featuring a distinctive wave design that is claimed to reduce weight and eight piston calipers sited up front.
Inside, the new Audi receives grey faced instruments, leather trimmed sport seats with RS Q3 logos embossed into the seat back, a leather bound flat bottom three spoke multi-function steering wheel with contrasting stitching, matching gear lever trim, black piano finish trims, aluminium pedals and foot support and a black headlining. A driver information system provides information on turbocharger boost pressure, oil temperature and lap timer.
The RS Q3 is the fourth new RS model to be confirmed for introduction in 2013, following on from the RS5 cabriolet, RS6 Avant and RS7, in the process boosting Audi's line-up of high performance models to eight – more than ever.