Audi has managed to keep its five-cylinder engine tradition alive, with the introduction of a new range of RSQ3 models, including a Sportback.
Since the original Sport Quattro, five-cylinder powerplants have been synonymous with Audi high-performance cars.
Challenging to engineer, the five-cylinder engine does offer benefits in terms of smoothness and torque delivery.
Audi is effectively the only German brand which bothers building a high-output five-cylinder engine anymore.
The new vehicles which carry on this proud Audi tradition are both RSQ3 variants: available in a normal SUV shape and Sportback configuration.
You can have your Audi RSQ3 low or lower
Both derivatives feature a considered design with purposeful detailing. Up front there is Audi’s oversized grille, with chrome detailing along some of the body panel shutlines. Around the rear, the RSQ3 is dominated by two large diameter exhaust ends.
Wheels options are generous, including a new 21-inch design which has a striking flow-spoke configuration.
Inside there are ergonomically designed seats, which are both comfortable over long distances and keep you securely in place during high-speed cornering. The instrumentation is digital and you can even configure it to display a g-force meter.
Although driving dynamics are their primary purpose, these new RSQ3 models can still manage to move 430-litres of luggage in the back.
Both RSQ3 and the Sportback version ride on 10mm lower sports suspension, compared to any other Q3. If you want the most dynamic possible centre of gravity, that will be the Sportback – with its 45mm lower roofline.
The engine is what defines these new RSQ3 SUVs from Audi. Displacing 2.5-litres amongst five-cylinders, it is one of the rarest and most characterful engines in production.
Audi’s engineers have managed to make it 26kg lighter than before, too, thanks to an aluminium crankcase. Saving that weight on the engine’s construction is crucial, because it is positioned above the front-axle and has a credible benefit to the RSQ3’s balance when decelerating or turning into tight corners at speed.
RSQ3 sounds like no other SUV
Power boosts to 294kW and 480Nm. Those numbers translate to 0-100kph in 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 250kph. Audi will offer customers the option of an ungoverned RSQ3 too, which will run to a true 280kph.
Keeping all that performance potential balanced, are impressive brakes. RSQ3 owners can choose to have 380mm ceramic front brakes, which should provide robust emergency stopping ability, even on very warm days, from very high speeds.
For those buyers who seek a compact SUV with tasteful cabin architecture and a flood of performance, but don’t warm to the current offering of four-cylinder engines, the RSQ3 offers something notably different.
Audi has made an intuitive decision to build all its new RSQ3 models with the company’s dual-branch exhaust system, optimising the unique sound signature of its five-cylinder engine. With a firing order of 1-2-4-5-3, these RSQ3 engines sound truly exceptional during full-throttle acceleration.
Both the RSQ3 and its Sportback variant will be made available to South African buyers late in 2020.
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