A mystery wrapped in an enigma...
We are well into the onslaught of new RS models promised by former Audi Sport boss Stephan Winkelmann, and current CEO Michael-Julius Renz shows no inclination to slow the proliferation of Audi’s sportiest models. Currently Audi offers the pint-sized RS3 and TT RS, the RS7 Sportback that will most certainly be replaced soon, the RS5 Coupe and Sportback are due soon, plus coupe and convertible versions of the halo R8 top the line. Any way you count it, that is nowhere near the 14 Winkelmann suggested.
Toss in an RS4 and RS6 Avant, perhaps never to grace our shores, and Audi will still need to run to their SUV lineup to reach their quota and take the fight to Mercedes-AMG and their “make everything ballistic” approach. The RSQ5 is all but certainly going to arrive, and the next best option for an injection of power and performance is the Q3 or Q2 platform. These photos suggest that it is the Q3 that will be getting the RS treatment next, reviving the RSQ3 badge for a second generation. Our spy photographers snapped these shots of a Q3 variant test mule on the Nurburgring, and while at first you might just hedge your bets and say it is a simple SQ3, likely to share the S3’s pumped-up 306-hp 2.0T, there’s more than meets the eye here.
Take note of those quad exhausts, as well as the wheels and brakes. Do those wheels seem fatter than an SQ3 would really call for? Probably, but the brakes are definitely over the top for the SQ3. Just eyeballing them compared to a closeup of the SQ5’s brakes and the callipers and discs are almost certainly bigger, the rotors are drilled for better heat dissipation, and that surface looks a heck of a lot like carbon ceramic. No way is an SQ3 getting drilled ceramic rotors when it’s not even an option on the pricier SQ5. To top it off, the spy photographer notes that it was out testing with an RS3, and in the very last photo, you can see a TTRS leading the way home.
Cross your fingers that we get video and audio next time around, because the unmistakable sound of that turbo-five would be an instant giveaway. The RS3 and TTRS both deliver 400 hp and 354 lb-ft from that signature 2.5-liter five-cylinder.