If you thought you’d seen it all when BMW unveiled the X6 M recently, think again. Audi appears to be circling a new niche territory in the form of the genuinely small performance SUV.
Ignore the garish colours of the customized Q5 at the annual Wörthersee Tour gathering and think Q5 RS, or at the very least Q5 S. This may not just be a lairy one-off to sit next to the rat-look Golfs at the annual event, it seems to be a well thought-out customer survey exercise.
It is fitted with the same supercharged 328bhp 3.0 TFSI V6 from the S4 but this is tuned to 402bhp, not far off the 414bhp RS4, which is sadly no longer on sale.
Audi has also fitted its Q5 concept with a wider track, lowered suspension and bigger wheels. The RS brand used to be saved for just one or two models, but rumour has it an RS3 is on the way, and we’ve just had the TT RS, so it is logical to stick it on a small SUV, the off-roader of choice for today’s school run.
This sector of the market seems to be strangely overlooked thus far and perhaps it was the X5 and X6 M that have now stripped away the last taboo. Even though the X6 drives well the ability of an M version will, like the Cayenne Turbo, be limited by its huge weight.
But what these cars have taught us is that high-riding SUVs can be extremely competent on-road, giving proper sports cars a run for their money.
A smaller hardcore SUV would be even better and, with a 0-60mph for the Q5 concept quoted as 4.4 seconds, incredibly rapid. No doubt they would sell extremely quickly too.
In a market that is so competitive it also opens up another possibility too. X3 M – the off-road M3 – anyone?