|Just The Right Ingredients-Audi Q3|
Story: Aspi Bhathena
Photography: Aspi Bhathena and Audi
Last month we were at Le Mans for the 24-hour race and Audi unveiled the all-new Q3 for the first time in Europe. Boy, she is some looker! At the end of June we were back in Europe once again for the world media drive of the Q3 in Zurich. They had lined up more then 20 Q3s with different configurations for this drive.
The front of the new Q3 is intensively sculpted and that sets a strong tone. The upper corners of the single-frame radiator grille are bevelled and the lattice is dominated by vertical elements. Two rising lines from the side of the grille carry over on to the engine hood and merge into the A pillars. The large air intakes with horizontal bars add to the aggressive look of this compact SUV and also house the fog lights. Like its older siblings, the Q5 and Q7, the headlights are wedge-shaped with the trademark Audi LED daytime running lights giving it a powerful and distinctive stance.
The side is dominated by the flowing, coupé-like sloping roof-line, which flows into the flat D pillar, reminding one of the A3. The pillar lends the rear a sporty look along with the roof spoiler. Sharply drawn tornado lines start at the headlights, run below the edge of the window and into the tail-lights. The wrap-around tailgate with the undivided tail-lights emphasizes the width of the car. The little Q3 is probably the best looking of all the Q models to date and boasts of a coefficient drag of just 0.32. Moreover, this little Q is not only good to look at, but also very aerodynamic for performance and fuel efficiency.
The interior of this SUV mirrors the exterior muscular design. The large, wrap-around arc above the dashboard extends across the car from door to door. It is a design feature taken from its siblings. The sweeping horizontally stepped instrument panel features a large inlay on the passenger side. The broad centre console is asymmetrical and is inclined slightly towards the driver. The layout of the instruments and switches is such that it becomes easy to read and use while driving. The nappa leather fully adjustable seats give plenty of support and comfort at the same time. The in-cabin space is good as you can fit three people in the rear quite comfortably with enough leg room for the passengers. The quality of the interior is as good as in its top-of-the-line siblings.
The drive around Zurich was in a semi-urban area. This meant that one could not exploit the Q3's top-end performance due to the strict speed limits in Switzerland. The two-litre TDI engine produces 177 PS of power and 380 Nm of torque. It is mated to a seven-speed S-tronic gearbox and the power is put down on the road via the four-wheel drive quattro system. With so much power and torque on offer with the S-tronic gearbox the Q3 was a pleasure to drive around the tight and twisting roads. Just a light tap on the accelerator and one instantly faced the prospect of exceeding the speed limit! The ultra-refined TDI engine and the excellent sound damping leave one wondering whether one is driving the two-litre TSI petrol engine or the oil burner.
The McPherson suspension up front and multi-link rear suspension are adjustable for four different settings via the Audi drive select. One can also choose the suspension setting as per one's requirement. The electro-mechanical rack-and-pinion steering is light and, at the same time, gives a good feedback. It becomes more direct when one selects the dynamic mode on the drive select. The suspension set-up is good as it gives the car a good ride quality. The car sticks to the road and there is hardly any body-roll. With the quattro four-wheel drive and ESP the Q3 goes round corners as if on rails.
The Q3 is a small but premium SUV, which has a good amount of space and is easy to drive. I am sure drivers of both the sexes are going to love this car once they get behind the wheel. The Q3 has all the right ingredients to make it a great soft-roader.