In standard form the Audi Q3 is a comfortable and stylish SUV, but Audi has given it the full RS treatment.

What’s new? The RSQ3 is a pleasing mix of brand-new and still brilliant. The Q3 is currently the smallest SUV model in the Audi line up, and ticks all the relevant boxes for the class; smart, reasonably practical, high driving position and car-like dynamics.

Where the madness begins is that the RSQ3 is essentially the only high performance compact SUV in the segment. Under the stubby bonnet is the wonderful five-cylinder turbocharged 2.5-litre unit last seen in the TT RS, combined with big wheels, beefed up brakes and suspension with a bodykit to match. It’s quite a heady mix.

In terms of looks and image, the standard Q3 is smart enough, but the RSQ3 is a different animal altogether. It still looks classy but the big front air intakes, large alloy wheels and body add-ons give it some serious menace.

Audi’s have a strong image as it is, but the RS badge has its own kudos over and above that. Whether you’re a fan or not those two letters denote serious performance.

With regard to space and practicality, the RSQ3 gives nothing away to the standard Q3 in terms of space, so although it’s relatively compact overall the space inside is good. Up front there are sports seats that offer better support, and in the rear you can get three adults in as long as they’re friends. The boot is good too with 460 litres on offer.

Behind the wheel, from the moment you fire it up the RSQ3’s throbbing five-cylinder engine dominates the experience, and it’s all the better for it. The combination of turbocharged torque and the delicious exhaust note makes you want to exploit the performance, and you won’t be disappointed: it can hit 62mph from rest in a shade over 5 seconds and will happily head-butt the 155mph limiter.

And while a high performance SUV might still sound like an oxymoron the RSQ3’s size makes it ideal for pressing on. The steering is sharp, the grip strong and it never feels too tall for playtime. The flip side of course is that the ride is a bit firmer than the standard car, but not unacceptably so. Your granny might grumble about it though.

In terms of Value for money, if you want an RSQ3 on your driveway you need to spend £43,015, but the step up to RS spec does also secure quite a bit more in the way of equipment. As well as the uprated engine, suspension, brakes and bodykit you get heated leather seats, 20-inch alloy wheels, 10 speaker audio system and Xenon headlights. You need to pay extra for sat nav however.

Anyone wanting the compact SUV layout but with some extra spice will like the RSQ3 a great deal. It gives you the performance edge without much in the way of compromise as a result, with only the firmer ride and increased fuel costs being a potential pitfall.

This car summed up in a single word: Surprising

If this car was a…: bicycle it would be a tourer – but with a rocket strapped to the back.

The lowdown

Audi RSQ3,

Price: £43,015,

Engine:2.5-litre petrol unit producing 306bhp and 310lb/ft of torque

Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox driving all four wheels

Performance: Top speed 155mph, 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds

Economy: 32.1mpg combined

Emissions: 206g/km of CO2