The compact-crossover segment is growing wildly. Models like the Audi Q3, the BMW X1 and the Mercedes-Benz GLA are the hottest commodities in Europe and China right now—and the segment is growing in the U.S. as well. But we still have some catching up to do, and that’s why we don’t get the latest addition to the segment: the Audi RS Q3 Performance.
And that’s a pity: With an improved cooling system and a new fuel pump, Audi manages to squeeze another 27 horsepower out of the prized 2.5-liter inline-five turbo, for a total of 367 horsepower. Maximum torque is rated at 343 lb-ft. The result: The 0-62 mph sprint now takes 4.4 seconds, according to Audi, and top speed climbs to a governed 168 mph. That puts the RS Q3 Performance on par with the Mercedes-AMG GLA45. BMW’s redesigned X1 doesn’t offer an engine that comes close to the Audi or the AMG. And only Audi can deliver the dark bass of a five-cylinder engine.
The standard seven-speed dual-clutch transmission has been tweaked for crisper shifts, and the sport mode of the stability-control system sharpens the handling further. Some decor is exclusive to the Performance model, such as the matte titanium finish.
The coolest Q3 will bow at the Geneva auto show in March. Sadly, U.S.-market Q3 choices remain limited to the 2.0-liter TFSI with 200 horsepower and two levels of equipment. Let’s hope Audi eventually will end the AMG monopoly in this segment and bring the RS Q3 to our shores—the one with the Performance label, please.