2017 Audi A3 First Drive Review
- Feb 18, 2017
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The compact-SUV segment is a hot selling one in India, and rightly so. Cars from this class give the buyer that big car feel, but at the same time are easy enough to live with. When Audi brought the Q3 in India, it was relatively easy for them to be the king of the segment. And with more than four lakh Audi Q3s sold since its launch, it made an impression not just in India, but across the globe. But, now with the new Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class already here, things might just get a little more intense. To take the battle one level up, Audi is all set to bring its refreshed Q3 to Indian shores. We drive it on the streets of Munich to find out how it fairs.
Exterior Styling and Design: rating_3.5_rating
The Audi Q3 is a nice looking compact-SUV and in this refreshed avatar it adds a little aggression to its overall stance. The front sports a black hexagonal grille that comes with a side order of matte silver surrounds and LED headlights. In profile and at the back the refreshed Audi Q3 isn’t very different from the outgoing model.
The top-of-the-line diesel variant that we drove was installed with star shaped 10-spoke alloy wheels. The only noticeable changes at the back are the new LED tail lamps and the ‘scrolling’ turn indicators. The facelifted Audi Q3 will be offered in new colours too – Mango Yellow, Utopia Blue, Glacier White and the sorts. While the Q3 is a textbook example of how much of a difference colours can make in the overall appeal of the car, we wish that Audi had worked a little more on the overall styling.
Interiors and Space: rating_3.5_rating
Like the outside, much of the interiors remain unchanged too. The dashboard gets an all black treatment as opposed to the beige-grey combination from the outgoing model and it sure does look good. The centre console and the instrument cluster have been carried forward from the outgoing model but the new Audi Q3 gets an all-new steering wheel. Sport seats come standard from Sport Line upwards and feature length and pitch-adjustable cushions. Seats are comfortable but there isn't enough space for three on the rear bench.
Features and Equipment: rating_4.0_rating
In terms of features, the 2015 Audi Q3 comes loaded with the works. All the variants are equipped with Xenon lights, Audi’s drive Select System and dual-zone climate control while the top-of-the-line variant comes with LED headlights. It gets a navigation system, Bluetooth connectivity, reversing camera and lane/traffic sign assist. The top-end trim we drove had electronically adjustable seats and a Bose surround sound system, however the manual transmission version doesn't get these features.
Engine and performance: rating_4.0_rating
The 2015 Audi Q3 that we drove sported the 2.0-litre TDI unit. Now, this one has been the bread and butter engine for the carmaker and we think that it has the potential to defend that title. With this engine under the hood, the facelifted Q3 will be made available in two trims. At 184PS the 2015 Audi Q3 pumps 7PS more than the outgoing model, while the torque rating remains the same at 380Nm. This engine comes mated to a 7-speed S tronic gearbox as well as the 6-Speed manual transmission.
The 7-speed automatic variant that we got our hands on does feel marginally more punchy than its predecessor but not by a huge margin. That said, the combination of this engine with the S tronic gearbox is absolutely effortless to drive. And for those who want to drive a bit enthusiastically, a touch to the paddle shifters to drop a gear is enough to give you that quick thrust ahead. And while the engine is potent, the fact that it gets noisy as the revs build up is the only let down.
Ride and Ease of driving: rating_3.5_rating
Considering the fact that the Q3 is just over 4 metres in length, it can be pretty easy to drive. While on the highway it’s no trouble at all, the small dimensions make it easy to live within the city. Visibility is decent on all four corners, and of course you have the reversing camera when you need to squeeze it into the tight spots. The fact that its peak torque doesn’t come very high up its rev range makes it a comfortable daily drive.
The heavy steering wheel might cause a little discomfort while maneuvering through traffic, but you can get used to it. Moreover, that’s a small price to pay for to get better handling capabilities.
Handling and Braking: rating_4.0_rating
Talking about handling, the 2015 Audi Q3 drives through the tightest of corners as gracefully and rhythmically, as a ballet dancer on her favourite tune. The stiff suspension and the well weighted steering play an integral part in inspiring confidence. Sadly though, when the 2015 Audi Q3 finally makes its way to India next year, the suspension and steering wheel will surely be softened to suit our roads.
Disc brakes on all four corners ensure that the car comes to a stop with the blink of an eye and thanks to good grip levels it doesn’t lose its line on hard braking too.
Price and Fuel efficiency: rating_4.0_rating
Keeping with the current trend of reducing the fuel consumption despite bumping up the power, Audi claims that the 2015 Q3 is 17 per cent more fuel efficient than the outgoing model. The German carmaker has been able to achieve this, thanks to the new Cylinder on Demand system that shifts from a four to two-cylinder mode when driving steadily at medium speed.
With regards to the price, the Audi Q3 hasn't been launched yet, but we expect it to come to our shores at a starting price of Rs 32 lakh.
For long the Audi Q3 has been the king of the ring. Now with the new one coming in the first quarter of 2015, Audi has made just the kind of changes it needed to stay at the top. The bump in the power, a stiffer suspension setup and absolutely sorted driving dynamics make it a lot better all round package. It’s more efficient and better equipped too. And while it has all the tools to take the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class head on, the fact that it pretty much looks similar to the outgoing model might go against it. And then of course, there is the price to take into consideration as well. But that aside, for those looking to buy a compact-SUV with a touch of luxury, the wait will surely be worth it.
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