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Audi’s Tiny New SUV Has the Heart of a Sports Car

September 26, 2019 Cars By
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Sports cars are motoring perfection–in theory. In practice, however, those low-slung, compact bodies that make such delightful machines ideal for speed are unconducive to the errands and tasks of real life. For many folks, an SUV makes far more sense for the daily grind. Some people opt for big, heavy beasts like the Lincoln Navigator and Toyota Land Cruiser, but plenty more these days choose something smaller and easier to handle in town–your Honda CR-Vs, your Toyota RAV4s, even, regrettably, your Nissan Rogues.

Audi, however, may have just solved that sports cars-versus-SUV dilemma once and for all by smushing the best of both into a single package: the RS Q3 crossover.

While super-fast SUVs have been a staple of the new car market for some time now (the Porsche Cayenne Turbo first went on sale in 2002), the new Audi manages to bridge the gap between sports car and daily driver a bit better than most by virtue of its small, nimble size. Think of it as a newer version of the delightful RS 3–one that’s better suited for bad roads and winter weather.

Based on the new Q3 that went on sale earlier this year, the RS Q3 ups the performance ante by cramming a 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-five beneath the hood. In this case, that engine whips up 394 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, delivering enough pep to propel the RS Q3 from 0 to 62 miles per hour in a claimed 4.5 seconds on the way to a 155 mph top speed. A seven-speed dual clutch transmission sends the power to all four wheels.

A standard Audi Sport suspension drops the RS Q3 almost half an inch compared with the regular Q3; there’s also an optional active suspension that changes up the dampers with the flip of the drive mode switch. And while the RS Q3 is shorter than a Honda Civic hatchback, it offers the braking power of a Boeing 747, thanks to optional carbon ceramic brakes up front that have calipers a full 15 inches in diameter.

Oh, one other note about the RS Q3: There are actually two of them.

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The new model comes in both conventional two-box form (pictured in red at the top of the page) and in a slighly sleeker Sportback version (in green above), which resembles nothing so much as a dehydrated Audi Q8. Performance stats and fuel economy figures for the two are identical; the only practical differences between them, apart from minor sheetmetal tweaks, is that the Sportback offers four and a half fewer cubic feet of cargo space with the second row folded flat, as well as a ride height that’s 1.8 inches lower. (It also costs a tad more; the base price for the Sportback is €65,000, as opposed to the €63,500 starting price of the regular version.)

Regrettably, we have to wrap up this post with a bit of bad news: the Audi RS Q3 isn’t coming to America. At least, the carmaker doesn’t have any plans to bring it over here at this time. Still, there’s always hope Audi might bring it across the Atlantic if we make enough noise; after all, that’s how we convinced them to bring the RS 6 Avant back.

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Will Sabel Courtney

Will Sabel Courtney is Gear Patrol’s Motoring Editor, formerly of The Drive and RIDES Magazine. You can often find him test-driving new cars in New York City, cursing the slow-moving traffic surrounding him.

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