Audi’s range of the Q SUVs has been well received here and the carmaker’s soaring sales figures make it more than evident. The eldest Q was the first to be launched here and is still one of the top contenders in the segment. The middle sibling, the Q5 is of course, the most popular one here. The reason for these cars doing so well is the number of things Audi has gotten right with them. The carmaker’s four-wheel-drive system – christened Quattro – is one of the best systems around. It wastes very little energy and is very effective. Audi also seems to have got the balance between car and off-roader just right. While the Q SUVs are very car-like and easy to drive, and come with beautifully crafted interiors on one hand, they have plenty of off-roader appeal as well.
The baby of the family, the Q3, has been on sale in diesel avatar since June last year. This new petrol, however, promises to be better rounded, and though it may ultimately appeal to a smaller set of customers, the car is so good we think it could be a better overall package.
What’s even more exciting in this case is the presence of the 208bhp, 2.0 TFSI motor under the hood. The motor uses direct injection for added pulling power at low engine speeds as well as a turbo to boost overall performance. The engine is very refined, settling into a really smooth idle, and feels willing and ever-ready for action on the move. There is almost no turbo-induced delay in throttle responses from this free-spirited motor – tap the throttle and the engine just sings, a sporty snarl emitted every time. It feels very eager at almost all engine speeds and closing up gaps in traffic, as a result, is a mere flex of the right foot away. In Sport mode, the urgency is even higher, although this feels a little jerky in traffic.
On open stretches, you can wind the motor up to 7000rpm and enjoy bursts of acceleration that make this car fun to drive. And this is one seriously quick SUV with the 0-100kph sprint taking a blistering 8.3 seconds, while 150kph comes up in 17.4 seconds.
Audi has chosen to omit gearshift paddles in the Q3, although the twin-clutch gearbox does work really well when you slot the gear lever into manual mode and push it forward to up-shift and pull back to down-shift. Quick downshifts in Normal mode, however, are not the smoothest.
The sporty setup of the suspension also means there is some stiffness in the springs and dampers. Ride quality at low speeds is a bit jiggly and you are quite aware of how bad the road is from the seats. However, at higher speeds, the suspension becomes more comfortable and pliant.