The refreshed Audi Q3 looks sharper, is loaded with features, and comes with Quattro – so it’s capable of tackling all kinds of terrain.
The Audi Q3 has been a runaway hit in India, and, as the leader of its segment, is set to raise the bar further. We first drove the face-lifted Q3 in Germany last year, which received both engine and styling upgrades – but the India spec gets only a nip-and-tuck job as the 2-litre diesel engine remains the same.
In terms of performance, the 174bhp power-plant always packed a punch – so, honestly, it’s not necessarily a bad thing that Audi India has chosen to use the same engine. We got our hands on the 2015 Audi Q3, and hit the winding, narrow, yet picturesque, roads of Goa.
The LED daytime running lights give the Q3 a premium and a sophisticated look at first glance. The re-designed headlamp cluster comes with integrated turn signals. The prominent Bavarian-beard up front has become wider and now comes with an eye-catching chrome frame – which gives the Q3 a stronger visual presence. Plus, the hexagonal framework of the new grille blends beautifully into the headlamps – which will become a signature on all new Audis.
The air dams and lower grille add an imposing stance to the styling, which is something that every SUV buyer looks for. Audi has also given the new Q3 a fresh set of 17-inch alloy wheels. And, in keeping with its new tagline of ‘Start Young,’ this compact SUV comes in three new radiant colours – red, blue and brown.
Step inside, and you’re welcomed by a more upmarket cabin. The wooden panel on the dashboard has been replaced with a more suave aluminium finish. To spruce up the interiors further, Audi has added chrome inserts on the dash and chrome finish on some of the buttons. As expected, the Q3 comes with a lot of features like a rear-view camera – the infotainment system comes with 20GB of internal memory, and has 2 SDHC slots. There’s a dock for your smart phone in the storage space between the front seats, which even allows the mobile phone to use the car’s shark fin antenna to catch signal.
As mentioned previously, the Q3 is powered by the 2-litre diesel, which continues to be impressive when it comes to performance and refinement. The 174bhp motor is more than happy to sprint from the word go, and the engine noise is completely insulated from the cabin. It’s still equipped with the seven-speed S-tronic transmission, which responds instantly. It also comes with steering mounted paddles for the keen drivers among you. The engine has always been a free revving one, but now with the paddle shifters you get even more control – let’s just say that this remains the most engaging drivetrain in its segment, which includes the BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA.
Audi Drive Select also allows you to change the gearbox and suspension settings based on the road condition, as well as your mood. It comes with three different driving modes – Comfort, Sport and Auto. Comfort is the default setting, and provides an ideal ride for the city as it cushions potholes. The steering also feels quite light, which is great for urban driving conditions. Sport is where the suspension stiffens up and the rev counter appears more comfortable in the far reaches of the rev range. Auto mode is like being on autopilot, as the computer decides what’s best.
The Q3 has always had impressive ride quality, as Audi ensured that the suspension set up was perfectly dialled in for our conditions. Sure, you might hear a thud when it goes over a pothole, but it cushions it to perfection. When it comes to handling, thanks to the Quattro system, it has immense road holding – you can even drive this machine like a hot-hatch and it won’t complain one bit.
The Q3 has always been a capable SUV, and it still remains one. Its premium and style quotient has definitely gone up, especially with the new front LED daytime running lamps. It continues to be a fun compact SUV to drive, and remains the only all-wheel drive vehicle in its segment – which at least gives you the option of exploring some challenging tracks if you so choose. It’s also equipped with Hill Descent Control, which can be quite useful off-road. The lack of steering feel, however, continues to plague the driving experience – but it’s the only flaw that we can point out. On the whole, it certainly makes a lot of sense at a starting price of Rs.28.99 lakhs, ex-showroom, Delhi.
Since the 1980s, Audi has been a pioneer in all-wheel drive technology. Though the Q3 predominately uses the front wheels, but when required, based on the driving conditions, it can send up to 50% of the engine’s power to the rear to provide additional traction. Not only does this enable you to get out of tricky conditions, but it also provides an added element of safety.
- Audi Q3 2.0 TDI
Engine: 1,968cc / 4 Cylinders / Direct Injection / Turbocharged
Transmission: 7-Speed Dual Clutch Automatic / All-Wheel Drive
Power: 174bhp @ 4,200rpm
Torque: 380Nm @ 1,750-2,550rpm
Price: Rs. 28.99 lakhs (ex-showroom, Delhi)