Audi will reveal the RS Q3 concept, a high performance version of its small crossover, at the Beijing motor show.

Should the RS Q3 be built, and the concept looks production-ready, it would be the first vehicle in a segment that continues to attract ever more entrants. BMW pioneered this market niche with its X1 in 2009, followed by Audi and Land Rover with the Q3 and Range Rover Evoque, both launched in 2011. Until now, no brand has sought to see if there is a pool of potential buyers for a small crossover that performs like a supercar.

Powering the RS Q3 is a 360hp (265kW) 2,480cc five-cylinder engine which Audi terms a TFSI (direct injection and turbocharging). A 314hp version of this engine powered another Q3 concept, the Vail, which had its global debut back in January at the Detroit show. The latter is expected to be under the bonnet of the Q3 when it eventually goes on sale in the US and Canada. In Europe, turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol (TFSI) and/or 2.0-litre diesel (TDI) units are the only available engines.

Distinguishing features of the RS Q3 concept are suspension that has been lowered by 25mm, tinted rear lamps and headlamp surrounds, a unique grille and carbon trim for the front bumper. The black and blue theme from the exterior is continued inside, while the tachometer has had its numbered markers switched to Chinese characters.

Audi quotes an acceleration figure of 5.2 seconds for the zero to 100km/h sprint, with a top speed of 265km/h. Drive is to all four wheels though the concept is said to run in front-wheel drive mode most of the time.

As for the chances of production for the concept, Audi will only say that the Bejing show vehicle was created to “explore the potential of the Q3 model series”.

For the moment, all Q3 build takes place at SEAT’s Martorell plant, where stated capacity for the model is 100,000 units per annum. An announcement concerning an additional production site in China is, however, expected soon. The logical build location would be either FAW and Volkswagen Group’s forthcoming plant at Foshan near Guangzhou in Guangdong province, or else the existing FAW Volkswagen plant in the city of Changchun.