Two worlds are about to collide in China, where for the first time in its history Audi will attach the overtly sporting RS badge to an SUV.
The RS Q3 concept will be one of the stars of the 2012 Beijing Show (Auto China, April 27 to May 2), and as its more muscular body conceals a turbo charged five-cylinder engine delivering 360PS there is no doubt that its bite will justify its bark. Finished in a combination of striking Ordos Blue matt and blue ‘clearcoat’ paint, the Audi RS Q3 concept sits around 25mm lower than normal on 20-inch alloy wheels with high gloss outer surfaces and sandblasted innards. These are wrapped in 255/30 section tyres, their unusually low profile serving as another reminder that this is as much an RS model as it is an SUV.
The styling treatment underlines this with classic RS hallmarks such as the honeycomb-style grille, deeper air intakes and side sills, a pronounced rear diffuser and large oval exhaust tailpipes. Lightweight carbon fibre-reinforced polymer (CFRP) is used for elements such as the front spoiler, sections of the air intakes, the door mirror housings and the headlight inserts. In the interior of the Audi RS Q3 concept, which gets plenty of light through a glass sunroof, black is the dominant colour, and is set off by dark blue contrasting Alcantara sections within the Fine Nappa leather-upholstered seats. This contrasting blue colour is also employed in the door trims and in decorative inlays produced by weaving brilliant blue luminescent glass fibres into CFRP. The steering wheel, finished in black Velvet leather, has large control stalks also made of CFRP, which are framed by aluminium accents.
The lightweight door handles will be familiar from other RS models, and RS badges adorn the instrument cluster, the seatbacks, door sill plates and floor mats. In the rev counter, Chinese characters replace the usual Arabic numerals. The engine compartment also continues the theme. A layered-carbon trim panel covers the area around the five-cylinder engine, which sports a red valve cover, and two laterally arranged ventilation screens feed air to the engine. In a nod to motor racing, the cylinder numbers are marked on their spark plug covers. An aluminium housing holds the open sports air filter, and the filtered air tube is made of stainless steel.
The powerful 2.5-litre TFSI engine combines direct petrol injection and turbocharging in the best Audi traditions. From 2,480 cc of displacement, it generates 360PS, enough to catapult the concept car from rest to 62mph in 5.2 seconds, and to take it on to a top speed of 165mph. A seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch transmission transfers the forces of the sweet-sounding five-cylinder unit to the quattro permanent all-wheel drive system. Generally, it directs these forces almost exclusively to the front wheels. When a loss of grip is detected there, it can redistribute forces to the rear axle via a hydraulic multi-plate clutch with electronic control – instantaneously and variably.