Will Audi’s surprisingly entertaining compact performance SUV breach the 300kW mark?

Following our first look at the updated Audi RS Q3 on the Nürburgring in August, the model has been spotted testing again, this time, in the Arctic Circle. It will be a welcome addition to the marque’s lineup, as in recent years, it has fallen somewhat behind in regards to performance and technology when compared to its rivals.

We’ve already seen the next generation Q3 revealed in standard form, and in the German manufacturer’s traditional fashion the visual changes are significant but evolutionary.

> Click here for our look at the all-new Audi Q3

Design cues like new LED running lights from the Audi’s flagship Q8 SUV have sharpened up the exterior, and the body has a more muscular and dynamic form that bodes well for the look of the hottest Q3 model when it reaches showrooms.

As our pictures of the test prototype show, the next RS Q3 also looks set to follow a successfully proven formula, with large oval exhausts at the back denoting its RS provenance. It also features gaping air intakes in the lower bumper section, as well as the broader, more expansive grille we’ve seen from that Q3 teaser video. Although less camouflage features on the latest test car, it doesn’t reveal significantly more detail than in previous pictures. The sharper, updated rear lights from the new Q3 can be seen however, which brings the RS-variant into the current generation.

In its previous form, the RS Q3 flagship produced 250kW in non-plus guise, but we expect the new one to offer anything up to 294kW thanks to its likely inclusion of the current RS3’s uprated power unit, not to mention a significant weight drop thanks to its new aluminium cylinder head. A new SQ3 model will also slot in beneath the Q3 RS, which is itself expected to offer over 223kW – likely sourced from a turbocharged four-cylinder, and not the RS’s charismatic five.

In general terms the next generation Q3 SUV is a few centimetres longer and wider than the current model so should be noticeably more spacious. It will also feature lots of the latest Audi and VW Group tech that has already appeared elsewhere, including the excellent Audi Virtual Cockpit, and a big 9.2-inch touchscreen system. It’s built on the same MBQ platform that the VW Group puts to such good use across its brands.