Audi has cleaved open another gap in its mega portfolio to create the slightly predictable Q3. It’s a posh crossover that’s bigger and taller than the A3 but – despite appearances – not quite as full-figured as the Q5. So it’s a smallish hatchback jacked-up to look like an SUV, while still looking like a hatchback. Sort of. You know what it is: think Audi Q3 vs BMW X1. It’s designed mostly for tarmac, but the raised ride height and optional four-wheel-drive will do a decent job of treading over a relatively rough track.It was facelifted early last year, earning it a bolder front end that looks not unlike the big Q7. Engines were tweaked and a 1.4 TFSI introduced. Check On Road Price of Q3
The Audi Q3 S is christened “S” but then it is the most basic Q range SUV sold in India. The famous LED lights and washers are not present and also you won’t find a panoramic sun roof but then this baby SUV is not boring at all instead it has its share of funk.It all begins with the cherry red paintjob which gives the S tag some meaning. It looks as dynamic and strong as a normal Q3. There are some angles where the S also manages to make its elder sibling look dull. Reading no LEDs on the Q3 S makes it loose it sheen but when you see it in skin, the Mustang inspired multi layered headlights are gorgeous to look at.The S gets a generous chrome surround on the radiator grille along with the glittering vertical slats. There is an aluminium finished front bash plate which makes this SUV look rugged. The media car came in with Pirelli Scorpion tyres which are of 235 / 55 R17. These look super stylish especially the black glossy wheels paired with the spicy red paint-job makes it look very racy.
The wheel flares are subtle and the fenders are finished in matte plastic cladding and so are the side running board. The longish nose of the bonnet and the silhouette of the C-Pillar gradually flowing to the rear makes the Q3 look very dynamic. The roof gets Al finished roof rails too.The tail lights don’t blink as quickly as the LEDs but I am still not complaining because even the conventional set looks very impressive. The different cells of the tail light make it look as aggressive and edgy as that on the Q3. There is no separate S badging on the car which does not distinguish it from the standard Q3.
There are no major changes to report in the cabin. The Audi Q3 carries forward with the same neat dashboard and generally user-friendly interior. Quality is up there with more expensive Audis and though the seats are not real leather but leatherette, the ambience inside is what you’d expect in a premium SUV. You sit reasonably high up in a Q3, the front seats are generous in size and support and even the rear seat is spacious enough for two adults to sit in comfort.
With the update, Audi has streamlined the variants on offer. The 30TFSI and 30TDI can only be had in Premium trim while the 35TDI is available in Premium Plus and Technology trim too. What is nice is that even the Premium variants get much wanted goodies like a panoramic sunroof and electrically adjustable front seats. The Premium Plus trim doesn’t get more features but adds in richer aluminium-look inlays. The top-spec Technology variant is pricey but your money does get you paddle shifters, SD card-based navigation, a reverse camera and a colour multi-info display in the instruments binnacle among other features.
The Q3 runs Audi’s MMI infotainment system. It is easy enough to use but the interface doesn’t look as slick as that in the newer Audis and there’s no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay support either.
Audi is offering the Q3 facelift with a diesel engine option only, the petrol version will be launched later, just like how the pre-facelift model was launched. The 2.0-litre TDI diesel mill gets no changes whatsoever and produces the same 177 BHP of peak power at 4200 RPM while peak torque of 380 Nm is available between 1750-2500 RPM. The oil burner offers good performance throughout as it dolls out punchy performance and revs quickly to its under 5000 RPM redline. 0-100 km/hr takes 8.2 seconds while top speed is rated at 212 km/hr.
The Audi Q3’s TDI mill is very smooth and NVH levels are low, save for the sound it emits post 3000 RPM when you go hard on the big pedal. The engine shows no signs of stress even when you drive at high revs and keeps pulling with enthusiasm to high speeds. The vehicle comes with Audi’s Drive Select (Comfort, Sport, Auto modes) wherein it alters the engine, gearbox and the steering. There is a bit more pep in Sport mode while the Q3 now gets steering mounted paddles too which is a great addition. The 7-speed S tronic automatic gearbox is quick with shifts and is very responsive to throttle inputs, downshifting in a jiffy when you need a quick burst of power. The compact SUV is quite frugal and will return upwards of 12 km/l.
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
For the most comfortable ride it’s worth sticking with SE trim, or deselecting the lowered suspension offered on more expensive S line cars (a no-cost option). In this guise the Q3 does a brilliant job of keeping large bumps and ruts under control at low speeds, and keeping the car’s body stable.That said, even if you do decide to keep the S line model’s lowered suspension and larger wheels, the Q3 does a far better job of keeping its ride controlled than other S line models in the Audi range. Even the lowered RS Q3 remains composed, even over patchy surfaces.Unfortunately, the faster you go in any trim level, the more uncomfortable the ride becomes. The car thumps into large potholes and expansion joints, jostling its occupants.
Raising the ride height of any car doesn’t do much for its handling but, among rival SUVs, the Q3 deals with it better than most. There’s plenty of grip in tight turns and body lean in corners is fairly well controlled.S line models have larger alloy wheels than entry-level SE cars, as well as lowered suspension. These contribute to even higher levels of grip and body control.However, although the steering winds on and off smoothly, and the Q3 is relatively quick to turn in, it doesn’t have a great deal of feel, meaning you can’t quite sense the front wheels biting and so plot an accurate course through bends. Even the high performance RS Q3 fails to communicate with the driver, although it does resist roll better than lowlier versions.
SAFETY AND SECURITY ;
When compared with its small SUV rivals, the Q3 falls short of the class best but still performs well with regards to safety. In fact, examining its five-star Euro NCAP rating more closely, it’s evident that the model’s child protection rating is near the top, although its pedestrian rating is only average.The Q3 provides most of the safety kit you’d expect: six airbags, including curtain bags that extend into the rear of the cabin, electronic stability control and ISOFIX fittings for the front passenger and two outer rear seats. However, automatic emergency braking isn’t available.
There’s a long, and largely reasonably priced, selection of optional safety and security kit including visual and acoustic front and rear parking aids, rear side airbags, and active lane assist and blind spot assist.To ward off thieves, deadlocks, locking wheelnuts and an alarm are also included. It’s enough for the Q3 to have earned five-star ‘theft-of’, and four-star ‘theft-from’ ratings from to security experts Thatcham.
The Audi Q3 has had it easy since the time it was launched in India because it was quick to beat the BMW X1 in the sales chart while it held off fresh competition from its Stuttgart rival with relative ease. With all the updates made to the car, although none are to the engine or suspension, the Q3 continues to be the best luxury compact SUV in the market today. Audi is starting off with the diesel model as that’s where majority of the sales come from but soon the petrol version will arrive and even the manual gearbox equipped Q3 S (which is our pick of the Q3 range). Now Audi only needs to bring the Q3 RS to tackle the GLA 45 AMG, we are waiting!