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Driven: Audi boosts RS Q3 performance

Tall order: The battle for tiny performance SUV supremacy escalates as Audi matches Mercedes-AMG GLA45 performance with 270kW/465Nm RS Q3 Performance.

More potent RS Q3 Performance bolsters Audi Sport brand presence

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Audi logo13 Oct 2016

AUDI Australia is continuing its Audi Sport brand assault with an even more powerful Performance version of its RS Q3 SUV, which wrings a massive 270kW and 465Nm of torque from just 2.5-litres and five cylinders, for a before on-road costs price of $84,216.

With the update, the feistiest version of the car-maker’s smallest SUV – until the arrival of the Q2 next year – gets a power and torque boost of 20kW and 15Nm thanks to an increased turbo boost pressure of 1.4 bar (relative), which has slashed the zero to 100km/h dash from 4.8 seconds to 4.4s.

Its enhanced performance puts the little Audi on a level pegging with archrival Mercedes-AMG and its GLA45, which has an identical 0-100km/h time and 270km/h top speed.

While the new RS Q3 is expected to equal, if not better, the annual sales tally of the sub-Performance version at about 100 per year, the entire Q3 range needs little supplementing with the German car-maker predicting it will sell “at least 3000” by the end of the year.

Instead, Audi Australia general manager of corporate communications Anna Burgdorf explained that the RS Q3 Performance’s job was to join forces with its larger RS and S siblings and continue the Audi Sport brand push that kicked off in 2015.

“Like all RS models it’s an image leader,” she said. “It’s about establishing performance at the top end of each model line and certainly as a premium brand and an aspirational brand, you want a pinnacle model and the RS Q3 Performance fulfils exactly that role.

“The Audi Sport sub-brand exists to drive that performance aspiration of the brand and it does a great job. The cars are fun to drive and 100 cars a year or more is certainly a handy number to have on top.”

The RS Q3 Performance takes the baton from the previous version along with a $2316 premium, with the non-Performance RS Q3 now discontinued.

Ms Burgdorf said the update was not introduced as a necessity but to bolster the model’s performance persona.

“I don’t know that it’s about necessity, it is about creating aspiration and certainly for us in Australia, when there’s a price premium of just over $2300, the decision was made to only have the RS Q3 Performance not both. It makes a lot more sense to have that one pinnacle model and not two.

“The philosophy of Audi Sport is: built for the track, driven on the road.”

While the update will strengthen the RS reputation, its Mercedes-equalling figures are unlikely to harm its cause as well.

The RS Q3 and related RS3 Sportback continue on for now with the iron-block five-cylinder, but Ms Burgdorf said that the recently revealed all-new alloy version that powers the TT RS and RS3 Sedan with 294kW and 480Nm “would make sense” to proliferate the hatch and SUV at a later date.

“I can’t comment on behalf of the factory or what we may produce in the future, but I think all sorts of iterations of a fantastic engine like that would be investigated”.

As well as the power and torque upgrade, the RS Q3 Performance brings some additional changes including a dusting of matte Titanium exterior finishes to the grille surround, brake-cooling ducts, a lower Quattro-branded air inlet and mirror caps.

The finish extends to the roof rails, rear diffuser and new 20-inch (an inch larger than the sub-Performance) alloy wheels in V-design with five twin-spokes.

A new hero colour is introduced with the Performance version with Ascari Blue joining the range of other existing paint tones.

For the rest of the model, it is business as usual compared with the outgoing RS Q3, including its seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission, which feeds the extra grunt to all four wheels via the company’s esteemed Quattro system.

Compared with lesser Q3s, the RS version has 20mm-lowered suspension, beefy 365mm ventilated, drilled and wave-pattern perimeter discs grabbed by eight-piston callipers in red at the front, and 310mm rotors at the back with single piston callipers.

Steering, transmission and throttle response can be adjusted with the Audi drive select settings, as can the suspension when optioned with the sport suspension plus with damper control. LED headlights and dynamic rear indicators are standard fare.

Interiors are decked out in leather with carbon-fibre trims, but can be upgraded to a number of optional extras including an RS Performance package which brings black and blue Alcantara or black Nappa leather with contrasting diamond stitching.

The optional pack also adds a Bose sound system and more flexible rear seat arrangement that allows load-through and a folding centre arm rest.

A $500 pack replaces the matte Titanium components with matte aluminium look parts.

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