Audi's applied the RS badge to a soft-roader for the first time: this is the RS Q3. Using a slightly detuned TTRS engine, the RS Q3 puts 306bhp and 307lb ft through all four wheels, via a standard-fit dual-clutch gearbox
Audi RS Q3: the powertrain spec
The petrol-fuelled 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbocharged engine is related to the TTRS five-pot, but here it's developing 306bhp rather than 335bhp. Maximum torque is on tap from 1500rpm to 4200rpm. The engine powers the RS Q3 to 62mph in 5.5sec, and to 155mph flat out. Audi claims the RS Q3 will return 32.1mpg and a 206g/km CO2 output, thanks in part to its stop/start system. It's no featherweight though: at 1730kg, the dinky RS Q3 is 220kg heavier than a 2.0-litre TFSI Quattro Q3.
Stopping all that weight are heavy-duty brakes, measuring 365mm up front The front discs use the 'wave' design first seen on the RS4 which cuts unsprung weight: Audi claims this saves 1kg over the front wheels. Those petal-shaped front discs are clamped by eight-piston callipers.
Audi RS Q3: the makeover
Last year's RS Q3 concept previewed the look of the hot Q3, so there are no surprises on the styling front. The front grille 'quattro' emblem is a trait first seen on the new RS6 Avant, and there's a rear diffuser with oval tailpipes, plus a bigger tailgate spoiler and alloy wheels. Thanks to the body kit, the RS Q3 is 25mm longer than a standard Q3, while sports suspension means it rides 25mm lower.
In the RS Q3's cabin, you get a flat-bottomed steering wheel with paddleshifters, red instrument needles, optional carbon trim and the 'Audi drive select' interface. Drivers can choose from comfort, auto or dynamic modes, turning up the exhaust noise and sharpening throttle response.
Prices are expected to start at just over £40,000, and UK sales will kick off this summer. In the meantime, you can catch the RS Q3 in the metal at the 2013 Geneva motor show from 5 March.
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