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Test Drive: The Audi RS Q3 Sportback takes the crossover up a notch

It's the first time Audi has brought the luxury high-performance RS Q3 Sportback crossover to Singapore.

I must admit, I’ve never been a big fan of crossovers. But I’ve conceded that the automotive trend is here to stay. In 2018, crossovers comprise 40 percent of the global automotive market share, according to Wards Intelligence, a 36 percent rise from two decades prior. It’s no wonder luxury carmakers such as Lamborghini and Rolls-Royce came up with the Urus and Cullinan respectively, their own takes on the high-performance crossover.

Audi is no stranger to this category. But it’s the first time the carmaker has brought in the RS version of its popular Q3 to Singapore. For those unfamiliar with the RS moniker, it stands for RennSport (Racing Sport in German) and represents the top end of Audi’s offerings. The Audi RS Q3 Sportback is what happens when a group of Audi engineers and designers come together and decide that a crossover should be capable of completing the century sprint in 4.5 seconds, and looking the part.

(Related: A journey around the island with the electric Audi e-tron SportBack 50)

The Audi RS Q3 Sportback in Kyalami green (left) and the Audi RS Q3 in red.

The Audi RS Q3 Sportback in Kyalami green (left) and the Audi RS Q3 in red.

That’s blindingly quick, especially when you consider that it’s just a 2.5-litre turbocharged engine. Its feline compatriot, the Jaguar F-Pace SVR, boasts a far bigger power plant – a 5.0-litre supercharged V8 – but can only reach 100kph a mere 0.2 seconds quicker. The roar of the engine when you start the car is also an aural delight to any automotive enthusiasts’ ears.

The Audi RS Q3 Sportback also sits lower on the ground and is a tad wider than its sedate sibling, physical attributes that usually signify a sense of speed. But it’s the eye-catching darkened front grille that tells everyone in the vicinity that this car means business.

And the car conducts its business extremely well. It feels planted on the road while tackling corners and has excellent agility despite its size. The interior is replete with gorgeous black Nappa leather and premium plastic although you can opt for the RS design package – liberal splashes of red stitching and alcantara on the seats, steering wheel and the dashboard.

(Related: Meet the McLaren GT, a surprisingly pragmatic supercar)

A closer look at the middle console.

A closer look at the middle console.

The car also has a generous boot space – 530 litres – that can expand when you knock down the rear passenger seats. The only drawback is the sloping roof, an unfortunate consequence of being an aesthetically pleasing sportback. It’s not a deal breaker, but your taller passengers might bemoan their genetics.

The Audi RS Q3 Sportback is an excellent car in almost all respects, so much so that it has me reconsidering the merits of a crossover. I might just be part of the 40 percent global crowd soon.

The numbers

Engine: 2.5-litre inline 5-cylinder

Power: 294kW between 5,850 and 7,000 rpm

Torque: 480 Nm between 1,950 and 5,850 rpm

0-100KPH: 4.5 secs

Top speed: 250 kph