Audi ’s recent focus on compelling design and high-quality interiors has proven to be a smart move, allowing it to carve out its own niche in the luxury market and become a true competitor to BMW and Mercedes-Benz . Journalists love the company’s extreme, go-fast models and they help improve Audi’s image, but the real money comes from its mainstream sedans and crossover SUVs. While Audi has plenty of the former, ranging from the A3 all the way up to the A8, the latter is limited to just the Q5 , Q3 and Q7 .In 2016, however, Audi is set to release the Q1, a crossover SUV that will slot underneath the Q3, making it the smallest crossover SUV on sale.
While tiny crossover SUVs aren’t particularly exciting to anyone other than accountants and car salesmen, Audi appears to be planning something more exciting that just the plain, vanilla Q1. If reports are true, the Q1 will receive the full RS treatment in the form of the Q1 RS a year after the base model hits showrooms.
Image Note: Rendering of Audi Q1 shown here.
Click past the jump to read more about the 2017 Audi Q1 RS.
Audi Q1 RS Speculative Details
As you would expect with an RS model, the Q1 RS will likely receive a number of visual tweaks. Expect it to sit lower, with a more taut, sportier suspension aimed at improving handling. You can also expect wider fenders and more exaggerated front intakes that will give the Q1 RS a more aggressive, meatier look.
The real news though is the engine, as no RS model is complete without a much larger, much more powerful engine. Reportedly, the Q1 RS will be equipped with the same 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, TFSI engine featured in the Audi TTS . Expect this engine to crank out 295 horsepower and incredible 368 pound-feet of torque. With so much torque on hand, expect the Q1 RS to pull hard from any point in the powerband, and with quattro AWD sending the power to all four wheels, you can expect it to jump off the line with plenty of vigor.
If there’s anything that can get a car enthusiast excited about a small crossover SUV, it’s a performance model, and the Q1 RS should definitely deliver.
While not exactly intended to be a competitor to the Q1 RS, the BMW X1 xDrive35i is the smallest crossover that BMW produces, and with a 300 horsepower inline six and BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system, it does match up pretty well, at least on paper. The X1 has been lauded for its responsive handling and direct steering feel, as well as its strong acceleration. With an available M Sport package to make things even sportier, the X1 should compare quite favorably to what Audi has to offer.
For 2016, we expect to see the X1 receive a refresh that will make it more consistent with the rest of the Bimmer lineup.
Gallery BMW X1
Not to be left out of the tiny-crossover segment, Mercedes is coming to the market with its GLA crossover SUV that will compete with the X1 and the Q3. That said, it’s also the smallest SUV that Mercedes has in its lineup and the closest competitor that it’ll have for the Q1. Mercedes didn’t keep the performance model secret for long though, showcasing the GLA45 AMG, a 360-horsepower monster of a crossover SUV. With AMG 4MATIC all-wheel drive, the GLA45 can rip off runs to 60 mph in less than five seconds. That’s faster than the BMW X1, and with more power than the Audi is expected to come with, it will also probably be faster than the Q1 RS.
Gallery Mercedes GLA45 AMG
Making use of Volkswagen’s MQB platform, the Audi Q1 will be the tiniest SUV offered when it makes its debut. While Audi has been performing strongly recently, its SUVs haven’t been the most competitive. With the introduction of the Q1 and Q3, Audi intends to fix that. While it’s expected to launch as a five-door model, there is a possibility that the Q1 will eventually be offered as a three-door as well.
The base model should be front-wheel drive, but expect quattro all-wheel drive to be available as an option. Meanwhile, power for the base model will probably come from a 1.4-liter four-cylinder and be routed to the wheels either through a six-speed manual or seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission. For drivers who don’t want to jump all the way to the Q1 RS but who want a little more performance, expect an SQ1 that is powered by a 230-horsepower, 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder.