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400-horsepower Audi RS Q3 keeps the straight-five engine alive

26 September 2019 - Autoblog

400-horsepower Audi RS Q3 keeps the straight-five engine alive

Not this time, downsizing.

The Audi RS Q3 is proudly bucking the industry's shift towards smaller engines. It enters its second generation with an evolution of the five-cylinder engine that powered its predecessor, and it's joined by a swoopier model called RS Q3 Sportback.

The five in question is a turbocharged, 2.5-liter unit tuned to deliver 400 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. The latter figure is available from 1,950 rpm all the way to 5,850 rpm. Audi pegs the RS Q3's zero-to-60-mph time at 4.5 seconds regardless of body style, and the model's top speed checks in at 174 mph, which is a boon if you regularly commute on the Autobahn.

Readers with Shell Rotella running through their brain will be delighted to learn the five-cylinder's firing order is 1-2-4-5-3, so it sounds the way it should. Those who just want to drive flat-out should keep in mind the engine is bolted to a seven-speed automatic transmission, and its power flows through Audi's Quattro all-wheel drive system with variable torque distribution. Beefier brakes, speed-sensitive power steering, and a firmer suspension help the RS Q3 make itself at home on twisty roads.

Visually, the RS Q3 stands out from the second-generation Q3 on which it's based with an Audi Sport-specific front end defined by a frame-less black grille with honeycomb-shaped inserts, a wide vent right below the hood, bigger air vents, and twin oval exhaust tips. Flared wheel arches that cover 20-inch alloys (21-inchers are optional) add a finishing touch to the look. The transformation continues inside with a redesigned digital instrument cluster and sport seats for the front passengers.

The list of extra-cost options includes carbon ceramic brakes, an RS sport suspension plus with Audi's Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) technology, and more supportive seats with integrated headrests. Buyers also have several appearance packages and paint options to choose from.

Buyers in Germany will begin taking delivery of the Audi RS Q3 and the Audi RS Q3 Sportback in early 2020. Pricing information hasn't been announced yet. An Audi representative confirmed to Autoblog that the RS Q3 will not be available in the United States, so buyers who want to put a piece of Audi's five-cylinder heritage in their garage will need to look for an RS 3 or a TT RS.

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