Hot-shot SUVs from Germany have been big, beefy beasts with M or AMG badges until now. Get ready for the RS Q3 - the first Q-series SUV to wear the Audi performance acronym and it's here next year.
While Audi is not talking specifics on prices, expect it to follow the sliced-price policy of the new RS4 wagon and be the first RS model under $100,000 when it lobs in the first quarter of 2014. The four-ringed brand will rip the covers from the production RS Q3 at the Geneva motor show next month, boasting a 5.5 second sprint to 100km/h and a governed top speed of 250km/h.
Powered by a slightly less frenetic version of the 2.5-litre direct-injection in-line five-cylinder intercooled turbo from the 250kW/450Nm TT RS, its got 228kW and 420Nm on offer in the RS Q3. Peak power is available across a broader rev range - 228kW is produced from 5200 through to 6700rpm (as opposed to 5400 to 6500 in the 255kg-lighter TT RS) and 420Nm is around from 1500 to 5200rpm, 100rpm earlier.
The super-swift SUV also claims an average fuel consumption of 8.8 litres per 100km. The powerplant - teamed with a seven-speed S-tronic twin-clutch gearbox with paddleshifters and all-wheel drive - features launch control, an active exhaust system to produce an engine note reminiscent of the brand's rally heritage and it also has the stop-start fuel-saving system.
Sitting about 25mm lower than the standard Q3, the RS version has a sports mode to its stability control for some leeway and comes to a halt by means of front cross-drilled and ventilated (front and rear) brakes, with eight-piston front calipers, which will have a kerb weight of 1730kg to retard.
Body extras, cabin trim upgrades and addons including the de rigeur black honeycomb grille, larger front air intake, rear diffuser, sports leather seats, the RS flat-bottomed steering wheel, xenon headlights, LED tail lights and alloy mirror housings will set it apart from the standard Q3 line-up.
Final specification is yet to be determined for Australia but its home market will get the RS Q3 with 19in alloy wheels, although there are going to be 20in options on offer as well. Audi Australia's Anna Burgdorf says the RS model line-up was set for an expansion over the next 18 months with RS 5 Cabriolet and RS6 wagon and then RS7 and RS Q3 in early 2014.
"SUVs in Australia are strong in our market, we'll have the SQ5 in the market at the end of April this year and then the RS Q3 adds another layer altogether, it's going to be our most affordable RS model," she says. "I think it will do very well in Australia, we love a performance carand we love an SUV, this is the perfect combination of both," she says.