RS additions make the most of exterior shape
Audi claims to have the widest range of performance models of any manufacturer and claim has even more weight thanks to the introduction of the RSQ3. With almost every model in the Audi range available in S or hotter RS form, or both, it should be no surprise that the German firm has created possibly the only high performance small SUV currently on sale in the UK.
The Q3 in standard form is the smallest of Audi's three-tier SUV range yet it shares many of the familiar styling cues from its bigger brothers and elsewhere in the range. It also has particularly close links with the A1, sharing some of its hardware with the supermini.
However this is the smallest car to have the RS badge applied to it, which in the past has only appeared on some of the most expensive and fastest models found anywhere in the range. It is also the only one of the 4x4 Q models to be turned into an RS model. That means substantial upgrades to the engine, suspension and design both inside and out.
The key difference for the RS Q3 is the installation of the five-cylinder turbocharged petrol unit already seen in previous generations of the RS3 and TT RS models. That gives it substantially more power than any of the other petrol or diesel offerings in the range. It is also fitted with the seven-speed dual clutch gearbox as standard, and sends drive to all four wheels.
The RSQ3 clearly stands out from its more humble counterparts on account of its large diameter alloy wheels as standard, broad chrome grille, silver-finished bodykit and a pair of RSQ3 badges to mark it out. There are some subtle changes in the cabin too; most notably the heavily-bolstered sports seats and the flat-bottomed steering wheel.
The RSQ3 is unquestionably a niche product as the market for high performance SUVs of this size is relatively small, but it does a fine job of delivering engaging and entertaining performance without creating too many compromises as a family car. The only question mark is the purchase price and fuel consumption, but assuming these issues aren't significant the RSQ3 has a niche all to itself.