Performance SUVs and crossovers continue to be hot fare at auto shows, so it's not particularly surprising that Audi will bring a fast crossover to the Beijing Motor Show next week. It's a fitting debut, given that the regular Audi Q3 debuted last year at the Shanghai Motor Show. Unlike that production model, Audi says the RS Q3 concept can manage a claimed 165 mph thanks to a powerful new engine.
The engine in question is a turbocharged, direct-injected 2.5-liter inline-five making 360 hp, a mill borrowed from the high-performance Audi TT RS coupe. Here it is mated to a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission and Quattro all-wheel drive. Audi says the RS Q3 can reach 62 mph in just 5.2 seconds, before reaching the aforementioned top speed of 165 mph. To complement the power upgrade, the crossover's suspension has been lowered by 0.98 inch, and its rolling stock upgraded to 20-inch wheels wrapped in low-profile performance tires.
So that the RS Q3 doesn't get lost in the crowd, Audi has painted it in a special matte Ordos Blue. The front splitter, spoiler, mirror housings, and rear diffuser are made from carbon-fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). A new front fascia includes an updated honeycomb grille with a subtle 3D effect, while the headlights are dark tinted. The grille and greenhouse are framed in brushed aluminum.
The most prominent change to the interior is the addition of silver-faced instruments with a boost gauge, while the numbers on the tachometer are displayed in Chinese characters. Black Nappa leather sport seats feature blue Alcantara elements and stitching. The flat-bottom steering wheel has a section of blue-tinted carbon fiber, though the remainder of the wheel is coated in velvet leather.
The Q3's door panels have blue inserts, which contast with the headliner, carpet, and leather-wrapped dashboard that are all black. Audi even went so far as to dress up the 2.5 TFSI engine with a red valve cover, carbon fiber trim pieces, and a unique aluminum housing for its air filter.
Will this vehicle ever grace your local dealership? Audi says the RS Q3 is just a concept for now, although the model is apparently being considered for eventual sale in the U.S. The automaker confirmed last fall at the Los Angeles auto show that the regular Audi Q3 would debut in our market in 2014.