With the Q2 becoming the ‘entry-level’ Audi SUV, the second-gen Q3 has grown both in terms of size and ambition.
It’s not unusual for a vehicle to grow by a few centimetres in its newest avatar. Therefore, the fact that the Q3 has now grown bigger than before in its second generation shouldn’t surprise you. But, just because it’s not surprising doesn’t mean that there isn’t more to it than meets the eye. Back in 2011, when the Q3 was launched, it was the smallest SUV from Ingolstadt. However, after the arrival of the Q2, the Q3 lost its ‘baby Q’ tag. And this allowed the Q3 to break free from the limiting dimensions of its initial avatar. Plus, its bigger brother, the Q5, has grown in size too – so this gave it carte blanche to do the same. So-much-so that it nearly finds itself in the mid-size luxury SUV segment.
The role that the Q3 has played for Audi since its launch simply can’t be ignored. And even though it was the smallest model within the Q family for most of its life, it certainly wasn’t small in terms of performance. With 1.1 million units sold across the world, it’s the best-selling SUV from Audi. Sure, the Q2 has now replaced it – at least in Europe – due to its lower cost, but the Q3 will always be a car of great significance at Ingolstadt.
As mentioned earlier, the Q3 occupies more real estate than before. It’s now longer by 97mm, making it nearly 4.5 metres in length (4,485mm). At 2,680mm, the wheelbase has increased by a significant 77mm, making the passenger compartment more spacious than the outgoing model. Audi has even added sliding rear seats, with an adjustment room of 150mm – thereby freeing up more leg and knee room. Boot space has also gone up from 460 litres to 675 litres in standard configuration. And if, in an attempt to squeeze every inch of available leg room, you happen to slide the rear seats all the way back, you still have 530 litres available for your luggage.
In keeping with the times, the new Q3 has all the latest tech that one would expect. There are new engines, advanced driver assistance systems – which includes adaptive cruise control, Stop-Go management in traffic, and lane assist – as well as navigation, infotainment and connectivity systems that represent an evident leap forward. ‘For the first time, the Q3 gets the Audi Virtual Cockpit, with a cluster that measures 12.3-inches. The base version, however, will come with a digital instrument display of 10.25-inches,’ explains Giulia Panagini, product marketing manager of the Q3. A wide black surface accentuates the dashboard, which is framed by a thick octagonal chromed profile that accommodates the central display, measuring between 8.8-inches in its standard configuration and 10.1-inches in the top-end variants. Higher trims will also get the MMI Plus navigation system that offers the same features as the new A6 and A8 sedans. The system basically connects all Audi cars in the vicinity so that they can alert each other about various situations, like ice formation on the road or the presence of fog, and even the availability of parking spots.
Another improvement that immediately catches your attention is the position of the steering wheel in the new Q3. As soon as you find yourself behind the wheel, you can’t help but notice that the steering wheel is more vertical and provides a sportier driving position than before – thanks to the new MQB platform. The new chassis and suspension make it comfortably agile. And, if Audi is to be believed, the ride quality has improved vastly. And that’s certainly something we can vouch for – the ride quality has definitely improved, at least in the standard setup.
What’s more, you have the option of choosing a sportier version too – with more rigid spring rates and a more progressive power steering setup that becomes more direct with the increase in steering angle. Audi Drive Select now offers six selectable driving modes – Auto, Comfort, Dynamic, Off-road, Efficiency and Individual. Each of these modes changes the response from the accelerator, steering wheel, S-Tronic gearbox and the suspension. At its global launch, in November this year, the Q3 will be offered with four petrol engines and a single diesel motor – all of which are four-cylinder, turbocharged units. Power output of these engines will range between 148bhp and 227bhp. As for its launch in India, we expect the new Q3 to reach our shores only by the end of the year at the earliest.
Looks that impress
‘This car has got something that was missing in the previous model – character,’ claims Matthew Baggley, the person responsible for the exterior design. ‘We’ve been able to give it a unique character in a very sophisticated manner. There are no casual lines, no aesthetic affectations or expressions of mere styling. Each line is there for a precise reason, and to allow a better carving of certain surfaces. Like the one in relation to the fenders, which not only highlights the Quattro all-wheel drive system but also gives it a perception of being a wider and lower car that’s well-grounded to the asphalt,’ concludes the designer.
In its S-line trim, the new Audi Q3 dons a much more aggressive stance than before. The front fascia, especially the upper section, is now more butch and aggressive – especially with its wedge-shaped headlamps. The lower section features a new single-frame octagonal grille – giving the car a lot of road presence. Overall, it looks far more like an SUV than its predecessor.
Above is the original Q3, which was launched in 2011. It was the first compact SUV by Audi and sat below the Q5 and Q7. With more than a million units sold globally, it’s unarguably Audi’s best-selling SUV.
|Model||Fuel||Litres||Power (bhp)||Torque (Nm)||Transmission||Drive|
|35 TFSI||Petrol||1.5||148||250||S-Tronic (7)||FWD|
|40 TFSI||Petrol||2.0||188||320||S-Tronic (7)||AWD|
|45 TFSI||Petrol||2.0||227||350||S-Tronic (7)||AWD|
|35 TDI||Diesel||2.0||148||340||Manual (6)||AWD|
|40 TDI||Diesel||2.0||188||400||S-Tronic (7)||AWD|
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