If it’s hard to make a compact SUV look elegant when you have a grille the size of Audi’s to graft on to its nose.

It’s harder still to make one look aggressive without veering into caricature. The RS Q3 treads a pretty fine line, but most commentators we showed it to reckoned the balance was about right: sporty but without comedy bulges.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
The in-line engine is mounted sideways and more space is given over to feeding and cooling it

What’s of more interest to us, though, and we suspect you, too, is what lies beneath the RS Q3’s amplified haunches. We’re delighted to see the TT RS’s 2.5-litre five-pot given another outing.

The Volkswagen Group’s compact platforms don’t allow for the fitment of Audi’s more traditional RS multi-cylinder units, but if Audi thinks an overblown four-pot won’t quite do for a car with an RS badge, we’re only too happy to agree.

Here, it has 335bhp and 331lb ft of torque. If you know that bhp and lb ft are always equal at 5250rpm, you’ll realise that those figures should make it a broadly muscular powerplant. Powerful it may of been but the 375bhp GLA 45 has upped the game further, not to be outdone Audi Sport responded with the RS Q3 Performance which upped its power to 362bhp.

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The engine is mated as standard to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox with a fairly long final ratio to help the RS Q3 achieve a CO2 output of 206g/km.

It drives through the Haldex four-wheel drive system that you get on smaller Audi and other Volkswagen Group cars. It’s permanent but naturally leads to front-biased handling. There’s no torque vectoring or sports differential at the rear.

Suspension is by MacPherson struts at the front, with a four-link set-up at the rear and coil springs and conventional passive dampers all round. We’ve often found that fast Audis run out of brakes quite quickly on a circuit, but the RS Q3 has ventilated discs front and rear, 365mm in diameter at the front, and the discs also have ‘wave technology’.

‘Wavy’ brake discs are now a relatively common sight on motorcycles and mountain bikes (they first arrived on dirt bikes more than a decade ago because they dissipated grime more easily than round discs), but they’re a more recent arrival on cars.

The theory is straightforward. For a given diameter, putting waves in the outer edge of the disc reduces weight but retains the same circumference around the edge, maintaining good heat dissipation. That the pads overlap the missing segments and are exposed to air frequently helps this, too.

The decrease in the total amount of metal (obviously, given the weight reduction) means wavy brakes generally run hotter, but Audi claims improved cooling means they fade more slowly. We also suspect Audi likes the look of them.

They’re more expensive to produce than round discs, mind, while bike experts say the pads wear quicker and that they’re noisier than round discs.

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