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Is the Audi RS Q3 a worthy RS?

Audi's RS Q3 is a silly, silly car. It's a small SUV with 306bhp and zero to 62 time that puts many others to shame. However, I wonder whether it's the best it can be.

Now playing: Watch this: Audi RS Q3: The nearly car

Seeing the letters 'R' and 'S' on an Audi's arse makes me happy. It means that under the hood there's plenty of power, it'll be comfortable to ride in, and it looks a bit special. RS Audis are best suited for lazier type of driver - one who wants to go very quickly without having to worry about much else. I love them -- the RS 6 is my favourite, if I'm honest, as it'll manage nearly 200mph and has a giant boot. Excessive speed, yes, but the torque required to get it there means you win at "Traffic Light Drag Race 2000" every time. Seriously. It's amazing, world bending stuff.

It used to be the case that you could only buy one RS car at a time, usually toward the end of a model's run. This made them a little bit more special than BMW and Mercedes' offerings; Audi didn't simply slap an RS badge on everything and say: "LOOK, IT'S A FAST ONE," it simply let one beast loose at a time and the buyer made do.

That is no longer Audi's approach. Now there's an RS version of a fair few of its cars, but I do wonder why Audi's top brass saw fit to put an RS badge on the Q3.

The Q3, for those who don't know, is Audi's smallest SUV (for now). It's essentially a last-generation A3 with more space between ground and floor, but not much extra by way of length and width. Essentially it's the car you get if you want more space and better visibility but don't want something that's hard to park. With a 2.0-litre diesel engine it's economical, too. Which is nice.

Now, the RS Q3 is a touch different to its more stable siblings, under the bonnet lies a 306bhp 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbocharged engine that pushes it from 0 to 62mph in 5.2 seconds and on to a limited 155mph. It's got all the RS "bits," too, so there's big vents, shiny grilles, RS badges everywhere and an oval exhaust at the back. But...RS cars tend to have two ovals poking out of their bums, don't they? They're also the best possible they can possibly be. So why is its engine running 50bhp down on its potential?

The TT RS Plus has the same engine and spits out 355bhp. It's also utterly mental, but that's a story for another day. Don't get me wrong, the RS Q3 is still grin-inducingly quick, it still makes a lovely noise when you're feeling 'spirited' and it makes a sort of 'woofuhl' noise when you shift up a gear, but why isn't it allowed to play with the big boys? Will there be a faster RS Q3 Plus version with the full whack?

Yes, the RS Q3 is fast and a bit silly. It handles well enough, too, so buyers won't be flung off the road if they get a little brave behind the wheel. But as far as I can see the RS Q3 isn't the best Q3 Audi can make. It's been stunted for unknown reasons. I'm glad it exists, but I wonder whether it's diluting the RS name a touch?

Engine 2.5-litre turbocharged 5cyl
Power 306 bhp
Torque 309 lb. ft.
0-62 mph 5.2 seconds
Top speed    155 mph