Audi is hinting at a performance flagship iteration of its entry-level Q3 soft-roader with this: the RS Q3 concept. It's only a design study for now, but the spec is very close to being production-ready...
What makes this Audi Q3 worthy of an RS badge?
Largely the same application of ingredients that Audi has favoured with the RS5 and RS3. An aggressive bodykit adds attitude with the familar RS signifiers, such as Lamborghini-style vents in the carbonfibre front apron, flared wheelarches, and a carbon diffuser-style arrangement at the rear enclosing R8 V10-alike oval tailpipes.
Twenty-inch alloy wheels sit on all four corners, wearing 255/30 profile rubber. They enclose enlarged brakes - the front units are carbon ceramic discs to increase stopping power under prolonged hard use.
Presumably the Audi RS Q3's big grilles and brakes are needed because of a meaty new engine?
Correct. And for posing... But the RS Q3 gets a breathed-on version of the 2.5 TFSI turbo five-pot found in the RS3 Sportback. Quattro four-wheel drive supplies 355bhp to the wheels via a seven-speed S-tronic transmission. Audi claims this adds up to 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds and 165mph flat out.
Basically, what we have here is a TTRS Plus drivetrain in a shrink-wrapped SUV.
Is the interior crammed full of equally sporting intent?
Of course, and it's very blue, to boot. The heavily bolstered RS-branded seats get blue stitching and Alcantara highlights. They face a dashboard resplendent in decorative luminescent blue-weaved carbonfibre, swathed elsewhere in leather. Even the trademark flat-bottomed steering wheel gets a chunk of natty blue carbon.
As a tribute to the hosts of the RS Q3's motor show debut, the tachometer numerals display Chinese characters rather than conventional Arabic numerals.
When can I buy an RS-spec Audi Q3?
For the time being, you can't, and Audi are staying very tight-lipped on potential production for the Q3. But it's certainly feasible. There's nothing massively outlandish about the concept thanks to its use of parts-bin mechanicals, and an RS model would certainly inject some joie de vivre into the rather vanilla Q3 line-up.
With the RS4 Avant imminent and an RS6 muted for late 2012, Quattro GmbH certainly have plenty on their plate for the moment, but a first RS-branded Q model is certainly a possibilty for 2013, especially if BMW wheel out a hotter X1. Watch this space...