The Audi Q3 RS shows Audi "exploring the potential" of a high-performance SUV. It has been unveiled at the Beijing motor show ahead of the standard Q3's launch into China later this year.

The concept is the first time Audi’s RS skunkworks has developed anything other than a conventional hatchback, saloon or estate. Mercedes’ AMG performance arm has long been producing high-performance SUVs, while BMW M’s controversial X5 M and X6 M models have proved to be a commercial success.

The RS Q3 concept uses a highly tuned version of the 2.5-litre five-cylinder found in the Audi RS3 and TT-RS. Power is increased in the turbocharged TFSI unit by 20bhp to 355bhp. An increase in torque over the 332lb ft produced in standard form has not been confirmed.

The result of the extra power is a 0-62mph time of just 5.2sec and the ability to reach a 164mph top speed. Drive is channeled through all four wheels using a seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic transmission. The concept features Quattro permanent all-wheel drive.

The RS Q3 concept has also undergone a series of chassis and styling changes over its more humble siblings. The RS Q3 has been lowered by 25mm, and sports suspension has been fitted.

Externally, the RS Q3 is distinguished by its muscular RS styling kit. At the front, there’s a new 3D-effect black honeycomb grille, tinted headlights, a redesigned front bumper with sculpted air intakes, and a spoiler made from carbonfibre-reinforced plastics (CFPR).

Flared side skirts and wheel arches give the RS Q3 a wider stance, while a long rear spoiler gives the RS Q3 a purposeful profile. At the rear, there’s a new bumper with diffuser insert, plus two large tailpipes. The concept is finished in striking Ordos Blue paintwork.

The blue and black-themed interior has also undergone a makeover compared to standard Q3s. Black Nappa leather seats get contrasting blue Alcantara stitching, while blue is also used for CFPR and Alcantara trim panels.

As a nod to its Chinese launch, Chinese characters are used on the tachometer.

Also on Audi's Beijing show stand is the Q3 Jinlong Yufeng concept. It's finished in a special livery that's a nod to the Chinese year of the dragon.