German car manufacturer Audi is quite clear about what it has to offer with the Q3. Being a direct competitor to the BMW X1 — with similar size, engine output and weight — the Q3 will be the German company’s cheapest offering in India.
When you slide into the Q3’s accommodating seats, you will notice that you’re sitting closer to your passenger; but otherwise, it’s an Audi SUV cabin through and through. The architecture follows the theme set out in other Audis — aesthetics, quality and technology are its priorities. It’s well equipped too, with a pop-up screen and MMI system, as well as climate control and adaptive suspension. Based on the VW Tiguan, the Q3 offers good space and comfortable accommodation for four adults as long as the rear passengers aren’t too tall. The seats are supportive and there’s plenty of headroom at the rear, besides a usefully big 460-litre boot.
Quick throttle response
Initial impressions show the transversely mounted, 176bhp, 2.0-litre diesel responds instantly to throttle inputs. You will hit 50kph well before you get into the strong mid-range in second gear. Driving along at this extremely sedate pace, the seven-speed
twin-clutch gearbox shifts unobtrusively and the engine is smooth and quiet. On flooring it, two things are apparent — the engine is gruff when it is extended, and it’s quick. With its 38.7kg of torque all the way from 1,750rpm, it cruises easily and silently. Jumping into the two-litre turbo-petrol after this is a revelation. Sure, this engine won’t be as popular as the diesel in India, but with 211bhp, it’s massively enjoyable.
Good for city driving
At 50kph, Q3 handles very well. In the ‘Comfort’ setting in Audi’s ‘Drive Select’ system, the steering is light and its compact dimensions allowed for easy navigation through narrow roads. We did sneak in a few fast corners and the Q3 displays good body control and has an engaging enough steering to be entertaining. And when you’re in the mood for some planet saving, there’s one more mode in the Drive Select system – efficiency.
There’s also a stop-start system and an energy recovery system. The baby Audi looks like an SUV rather than a hopped-up estate that literally gives it a heads-up in a market like India. In fact, the steeply raked rear windscreen, slit head lamps and tighter skinning make it look even sharper than its bigger brothers, the Q5 and the Q7.
AUDI Q3: 2.0 TDI, 2.0 TFSI
Price: R29-35lakh (est)
0-100kph: 8.2s, 6.9s*
Top speed: 212kph, 230kph*
Kerb weight: 1,585kg, 1,565kg
Engine: 4 cyls in-line, 1,968cc, turbodiesel, 4-cyls in-line, 1,984cc, turbo-petrol
Power: 176bhp at 4,200rpm, 211bhp at 5,000rpm
Torque: 38.7kgm at 1,750rpm, 30kgm at 1,800rpm
Gearbox: 7-speed DSG
Fuel tank: 64 litres
Boot: 460 litres
The base two-litre, front-wheel-drive 140bhp diesel variant will cost 29,900 Euros (R19 lakh excluding local duties), which compares favourably to a similarly spec’ed X1
The Q3 is an impressive car with good looks and comes with two very entertaining engines. For someone keen to drive a compact premium SUV, the Q3 will make a lot of sense.