Audi RS Q3 concept boosts horsepower for compact SUV
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Audi has lifted the veil on a production-based concept from its quattro performance division that previews a range-topping variant of the Q3 for European markets.
Called the Audi RS Q3, the go-fast version of the company's compact SUV is planned to make its public debut at next week's Beijing motor show, packing a 355-hp version of the same turbocharged, direct-injection 2.5-liter five-cylinder gasoline engine found in the TT RS, set in a stylized bay featuring carbon-fiber trim panels.
With its drive channeled to all four wheels through a seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch gearbox, the RS Q3 is claimed to hit 62 mph in 5.2 seconds and to reach a top speed of 165 mph.
By comparison, today's top-of-the-line Audi Q3, the 208-hp 2.0 TFSI, boasts an official 0-to-62-mph time of 6.9 seconds and a 143-mph top speed with the same gearbox.
Distinguishing the concept from the standard Q3 on sale in Europe since mid-2011 is a series of exterior styling changes. Included is a reworked version of Audi's signature single-frame grille sporting brushed- and polished-aluminum trims and a new insert.
Further visual tweaks include tinted headlamp assembles with carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic graphic elements, a more angular front bumper with larger lower air ducts, carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic mirror housings, altered sills underneath the doors, a more prominent spoiler atop the tailgate, tinted tail lamps and a deeper rear bumper.
A one-inch reduction in ride height and upgraded 20-inch multispoke wheels also help set the Audi RS Q3 apart, endowing it with a more hunkered stance than existing Q3 models.
Audi won't officially say when the RS Q3 will see production. However, insiders at the company's Ingolstadt headquarters in Germany contacted by Autoweek suggest that plans are already under way to gear up a factory in Spain, where the Q3 is built, to begin production of the new performance-based SUV by mid-to-late 2013.
Audi's quattro division is responsible for the development of all existing Audi RS models, including the RS3, the TT RS, the RS4, the RS5 and the mid-engine R8 coupe, roadster and GT.
You can reach Greg Kable at email@example.com.