Audi's high-riding, high-performance SUV is back for 2020. Here's why we're excited.
- shares

It's par for the course for most manufacturers to opt for a turbocharged four-cylinder engine in every compact performance application.

Thankfully, Audi has bucked the trend and stuck with its tried-and-true five-cylinder engine, displacing 2.5-litres in the RSQ3 and RSQ3 Sportback siblings.

That alone is reason enough to love something a bit different... but here are five standout highlights from what is a proper performance SUV.

The colour palette

Whether you’d prefer a conventional RSQ3 or a Sportback is a matter of personal taste, but the varied colour palette is hard to argue with.

Nardo Grey is a familiar colour for Audi fans, and it suits the SUV’s silhouette perfectly. Kyalami Green also looks fantastic and we also loved the Turbo Blue at launch. Let's hope buyers in Australia get on board with the bright colours on offer.

The engine is now 26kg lighter

The 2.5-litre engine’s crankcase is now made from aluminium, the cylinder liners are plasma coated, and the crankshaft main bearings are smaller in diameter.

The crankshaft is hollow bored and the aluminium pistons have integrated channels for oil cooling. Thermal efficiency is also assisted by the water pump not circulating coolant into the cylinder head on cold starts to help the engine warm up faster.

The noise

It’s not just the fact the RSQ3 is a five-cylinder that makes for the characteristic throaty exhaust note. Audi engineers told us at launch that the RS Sports exhaust system is part of the story, but it’s more about the firing order.

The 2.5-litre fires in an unusual 1, 2, 4, 5, 3 order, which gives it such a distinctive and intoxicating voice. In an era where everything is turbocharged, the Audi’s extra cylinder gives it a sonic edge.

Power and torque

The 2.5-litre five-cylinder punches out an impressive 294kW and 480Nm, numbers which it seems to do in such easy, smooth fashion. It never feels over stressed or that it’s straining at redline, like some hi-performance four-cylinder engines can.

Those figures push it from 0-100km/h in just 4.5 seconds. Genuinely impressive for an SUV.

Quattro all-wheel drive

Front-wheel drive SUVs are becoming more common – or SUVs running variations of a conventional AWD system where torque runs to one axle primarily.

However Audi, which set the standard with its original Quattro system, uses permanent AWD in the RSQ3, with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and an electronically controlled multi plate clutch. The system promises to provide prodigious grip, even on slippery surfaces.