Audi Q3 : First Drive
- by Vikram Gour Phtotography Kunal Khadse
- May 2, 2012
- Views : 53998
Audi is venturing into a whole new market with the advent of the Q3, the latest addition to the Q range of vehicles. It's a sporty, versatile vehicle that has the capability of dominating its segment and the beauty of the product is that Audi hasn't cut corners and has successfully managed to package the traits of its larger siblings into this sub compact class form
Looking at trends across the globe, one thing is certain, that big gifts now come in small packages. Computers, phones, cameras and other gadgets are driving the trend towards efficient and small packaging. Having said that, the automobile industry can’t be discounted from such thought and taking that leap into a new segment is Audi. With the advent of the all-new Q3, Audi is looking at offering a luxury SUV in a compact class form.
What this line of thought entails is rather interesting as the requirements need to address the customer at two levels, namely offering top class quality that is in sync with the brand values and expectations that customers have from Audi, and secondly, the customer will demand this at a price that suits the size! This is where car companies lose out to technology companies as a smaller laptop can charge a premium, whereas a smaller car cannot.
Especially in India where customers have a very strong ‘price to size’ ratio determination when it comes to vehicles. While this does question the intention of making such a vehicle in the first place, one should remember that such a vehicle also throws the doors open to a whole new market.
Essentially, Audi is looking at getting customers hooked to the brand at a younger age. With a vehicle like the Q3, it’s easy to lure in younger customers and give them a solid dose of what the Audi brand stands for. With time the customer will hopefully step up to other Audi products. For the customer, the Q3 becomes a great option as it allows them to step up to the premium segment sooner in life. Today’s customer just doesn’t want to wait and entering the realm of premium products earlier is a high in itself. So, with the market set, Audi just had to ensure that their product had the right elements.
The Q3 is immediately recognisable as the youngest member of the Audi Q family. This is a great strategy to ensure a solid brand recall as well as transcend the values of the Q range across segments. By creating this link, Audi has managed to kill a number of birds with a single stone and immediately establish the Q3’s credentials as a compact yet sporty, efficient and versatile vehicle that embodies Audi’s technological prowess.
Every aspect of the Q3 captures these facets and from the very moment you set your eyes on this vehicle, you just know it’s a vehicle like no other. The coupe-like lines, sharp edges combined with the quintessential Q vehicle curves as well as the finely stretched metal capture the essence of an able bodied sporty vehicle. Adding to the exterior delight are the lights; up front the distinctive LED daytime running lights plus xenon units laid out in a wedge shape are worth drooling over and the rear LED units also offer a very futuristic style statement.
Bringing the entire sporty character to life is the way the vehicle sits on its neat, large alloy wheels that compliment the entire styling of the Q3. Being just 4385mm in length, 2019mm in width and 1608mm in height, the Q3 is rather compact, yet Audi has managed to levy a fine design that draws back to the larger Q5 and Q7 without looking tacky or forced.
Moving to the interior, the Q3 is quite the bundle of surprises as the vehicle packs in quite a bit of equipment and boasts of a rather decent fit and finish. The plastics and other materials used on the surfaces are great visually as well as to touch. They feel up market and have been used with taste. The LED lighting is brilliant and harks back to the exterior lighting as well as the fact that LED lighting is now synonymous with Audi products speaks volumes about keeping the brand connect in place. The seats are well contoured and comfortable; however power adjustment is an optional feature.
In terms of standard equipment, the Q3 comes pretty loaded with a concert Bose surround sound system, climate control air conditioning as well as a 6.5-inch fold out monitor that makes up part of the MMI functionality. The Q3 has borrowed heavily from vehicles higher in the range to offer elements such as adaptive light systems for the headlights, high beam assistant, panoramic sun roof as well as a host of safety features such as numerous airbags, ABS, and EBD. For the occasional off-roading, the Q3 packs in the all-wheel drive quattro system as well as hill start assist. Space, which I thought would be a grouse with such a compact vehicle, amazingly isn’t.
For a vehicle of this class and calibre, the second bench manages to offer decent legspace. While one might argue the fact, I will add that the rear seat is contoured to allow you to sink in just a bit. This gives you that added support as well as keeps your knees from digging into the passenger or driver seat in front. Another fine example of great packaging is the fact that the Q3 offers a 460-litre boot! Despite the small dimensions, Audi has managed to maintain a certain level of flexibility and versatility in the Q3.
Carrying forward the characteristics of efficiency and versatility is the brilliant 2.0-litre TDI four-cylinder diesel unit that makes a healthy 177PS @ 4200rpm and a solid 380Nm of torque between 1750 and 2500rpm. Audi combines the engine with quattro permanent all-wheel drive which works with a hydraulic multi plate clutch as well the seven speed S-tronic gearbox. What this translates to is a 0 to 100km/h in just 8.2 seconds and a top speed of 212km/h while offering you enhanced stability and better cornering thanks to the quattro system. It’s an engaging drive experience and at no time does it feel underpowered or running out of steam as this little mill just powers on in a linear fashion to offer you a rather exhilarating experience on board.
It’s perfect for India as it also offers rather decent mileage. While we haven’t got around to testing it, I can safely bet that the Q3 diesel will return a healthy 12-14kmpl under real world conditions, which is extremely good for a vehicle in its class. Incidentally, Audi will be introducing the Q3 with the diesel engine first and will look at offering a petrol Q3 around the end of this year. The petrol is expected to be a 2.0 -litre TFSI unit that generates a solid 211PS of power.
Aiding the entire dynamism is the combination of the lightweight body, which includes the aluminium engine hood and tail gate, with the chassis systems which encompass elements such as the four link rear suspension and electro-mechanical power steering. These systems offer a sedan-like ride on tarmac, and while off-roading, these systems allow better control as they keep you from being tossed around like a rag doll.
Speaking about off-roading, the Q3 actually manages a decent amount of mud-plugging without much of a hassle. The large wheels placed at the corners of the vehicle ensure stability, and the lack of major body overhang at the front or rear offer decent approach and departure angles. The underbody is packaged extremely well with all the nitty-gritties tucked away out of harm’s way and then there is the quattro system, and hill start system which all work together to ensure you can traverse over some rough terrain with considerable ease. The Q3 is more than suited to handle our rough roads, and should you feel the need to go exploring the countryside, this vehicle can do that too. Frankly I was a little astonished at its off-roading abilities for I had honestly written the Q3 off as a little soft-roader, but it manages to impress more than that.
Essentially the Q3 has managed to achieve what other premium brands haven’t and that is to scale down an SUV into a compact package, yet retain its original DNA. While the Q3 is set to go up against vehicles such as the Toyota Fortuner, Range Rover Evoque (according to Audi), Chevrolet Captiva and the like, I feel that the prime competition is the BMW X1. And it is from this perspective that I make my claim. The BMW X1 doesn’t offer you the complete genes of an X series vehicle. After all, the X1 doesn’t even offer 4x4 in India! While there are others, none of them command a presence like Audi or BMW, and that is where the Q3 will definitely score.
Audi has given the Q3 the style statement associated with the Q5 and Q7, it’s well kitted out on the inside, drives well, and offers ample off-roading too! Moreover, it’s frugal, versatile and can fit in a small family with ease. The final challenge of fitting all of these features at an attainable price tag is what remains to be seen. However Audi India is adamant on that front too and we are expecting the Q3 to retail anywhere between Rs 28 lakh and Rs 32 lakh, which would be a clincher of a deal.