In a country boasting one of the largest young populations in the world with a decent disposable income, premium German car makers know where the volumes really are. So at the entry level premium scheme of things, it isn’t a wonder that the Audi Q3, with its versatility, SUV proportions, the quad ringed badge and an enticing price has been the most successful product in its segment.
While there were already many positives working in the compact crossover’s favour, Audi has polished the Q3 further. The Ingolstadt based carmaker gave us an opportunity to spend a day with the car on a beautifully damp day in southern Goa. Quite an apt location then, for a product that primarily focuses on attracting the youth.
The 2015 Audi Q3 shares its underpinnings and chassis with the outgoing version, though Audi has introduced a slew of features and made significant design changes to give it a bristling new personality. Here’s all you need to know about this capable cross
I see a new grille, tell me more…
What you see is described as a three dimensional single frame grille in Audi lingo. Replacing the older grille that had vertical slats on the dynamic and a chequered pattern on vanilla trims, the new chrome lined, wider unit fits flush and gels well with the horizontal lines on the Q3. This pattern is Audi’s new family face which should get you acquainted with what you’d also witness on upcoming products from Ingolstadt.
What has also changed is that fog lamps have been done away with and those faux air scoops in the bumper have shrunk in size. However, the addition of a C-shaped design element that hoods above the scoops adds more dynamism to the front with its sharp angles and gashes. Beneath the tiny air-dam, the bash plate is now silver lined and underscores as a goatee to the smart looking grille.
The headlights look different, what happened there?
These are new units which have been embedded with LEDs and will be seen illuminating the road ahead on top variants.
The DRLs at the front curve towards the outside this time, the lighting system at the rear following suit.
Unlike the outgoing Q3, the rear blinker is a dead line that sits in the middle rather than following the boomerang’s curve, however, it lights up sequentially in the direction of the turn, Audi’s attempt at adding some funk to the humble turn indicator.
What else is different?
Sideways, the 17” 10-spoke alloys follow a new y-shaped design, while the cladding has an element of shine that runs through the wheelbase.
There is an addition of three new colours which we don’t know the technical names for, but they look like Red, close to Brown and Blue.
Does it make more power now?
No. While a lower-spec manual variant paired to a diesel will most likely make an appearance later, along with the TFSI petrol models, the car we sampled was propelled by the tried and tested 2.0-liter TDI mated to a 7-speed S-Tronic automatic gearbox.
Like in the outgoing Q3, power figures remain unchanged at 174 bhp @ 4200 rpm and so does 380 Nm of torque between 1750 – 2500 clicks. Rated for a top speed of 212 kph, it makes the Q3 35 TDI sprint from 0 – 100 km/h in 8.2 seconds.
The punchy motor revs free till its 5k redline with ease, although things do get slightly audible while on the way there. Sounded more like music to us, but personal opinions may differ.
I see something hiding behind the steering wheel, what is it?
The 2015 Audi Q3 now gets paddle shifters which move with the wheel and lets you climb up and down the dual clutch gearbox at the flick of a finger.
So when in the mood to take control in your own hands, slot the S-Tronic lever to the left from D-mode, and you may redline the motor all the way to 5000 clicks, post which the clever system upshifts on its own, if you’ve forgotten to do that for some reason.
There’s an intelligent D-mode for everyday driving and another S-mode which upshifts late when you’re in the mood to give it some beans, but are still lazy enough to trouble your fingers. Furthermore, you can choose from Audi’s Drive Select system to fine tune the steering and transmission characteristics even more.
Drive select? What’s that?
The 2015 Q3 comes with Audi’s drive select system that comes with three different settings that change driving dynamics. So you may use the dedicated switch above the AC controls or navigate through the MMI system to select between Comfort, Dynamic or an Auto mode.
In Comfort mode, the suspension relaxes its shoulders; the steering becomes feather light, and the gearbox upshifts early to offer a relaxed driving experience.
Dynamic mode on the other hand matches the alacrity in your head and stiffens the suspension setup, adds a slight amount of weight to the steering and sends a sporty letter to the mechanicals in order to let you grin behind the wheel.
The whole system isn’t a placebo and actually works as we figured on the well paved, empty roads in southern Goa. Even in wet conditions, shifting down via the pedals and attacking corners turned out to be an all afternoon affair.
The Dynamic mode is where we spent most of the time then, although there were some bad stretches we encountered, where the Comfort setting did shine through. It makes the car soak undulations with relative ease, without filtering too much of what those Pirellis roll over to the cabin.
The Auto mode, as it says, is the car’s brain that decides which setting is best on its own, although if you’re in the driver’s seat and in the mood for some fun, stick to Dynamic and forget it. What we loved is how Audi’s engineers have perfected the ride and handling balance. The Q3 shines on both parameters equally, which is certainly a rare quality.
The half-a-fly in the ointment is a steering the remains light throughout, which certainly is a boon in crowded and tight spaces, but not something that leaves you too impressed on winding roads. Even in Dynamic mode, there’s only a slight amount of artificial weight build up as you turn the round thing, leaving you wanting for more. Having said that, it might be light, but the system is finely accurate and the wheel feels nice to hold. We would’ve loved to see a flat bottom wheel to go with those pedals, but hey, it’s an SUV after all.
Next page for more details, verdict and and image gallery>>>
Hey Pedro! Tell me about Quattro
The only vehicle in its segment that distributes the engine’s power to all four wheels, this is a definitive piece of tech that makes the Q3 stand out from the crowd. Of course those Pirellis were hard at work as we put the agility of this baby Audi to test around hairpins and narrow mountain roads, but it was the all-wheel drive Quattro system which lends the car an on-rail like poise around bends. Even on wet tarmac, the Q3 went about its business, gripping the surface like a crab’s claw.
Quattro eh! Can I make it climb hills?
It is more of a casual off-roader and as long as you aren’t thinking of traversing through Dakar stages, you should make it to the top. We did too, here’s the proof. You can also see a demonstration of the Quattro system at work by clicking here
What sort of renovation happened inside?
So you get to pick between a black-beige or an all-black cabin now, although the architecture inside is more or less the same, wooden inlays on the dashboard and door pads have been replaced with Aluminium Tangent inserts.
The ‘Technology’ variant we sampled comes with full satellite navigation, 20 gigs of electronic space for your virtual belongings, a nice sounding Audi sound system, rear-view camera with dynamic guidelines and a panoramic sunroof as standard.
Two SDHC card slots, Bluetooth connectivity, LED interior lighting package, power-adjustable front seats and anti-glare mirrors everywhere are standard too.
Another addition is a dock beneath the front centre armrest for your cell phone. It lets your phone use the car’s radio antenna to receive its signal, helping that little device extend its battery life.
A new colour display has been introduced in the instrumentation cluster, which tells you about the terrain you’re driving on, the track that’s blaring out from the speakers, your phone book and a multitude of information related to the car. It has various menus you can flick through with buttons on the wheel, without the need to peek through sideways at the central MMI display.
Regenerative braking tech, that stores energy in the battery which is harnessed during acceleration and Hill-descent assist are part of the package too.
Must be a good buy then?
With competition like Merc’s GLA and the upcoming new BMW X1, where the starry SUV scores on appeal and design, while the latter is more focused as a vehicle, the Audi Q3 shines out as an all-rounder that ticks all the boxes for an entry-level premium SUV.
It is a no-brainer if a well-proportioned, comfortable, frugal and now feature packed car is what’s on your mind. Powered by an intelligently attractive engine-gearbox package, the Q3 builds on its appeal and remains a compelling choice in its segment.
There must be something amiss?
In order to change a track, one has to manually find the next button on the centre console, which would’ve made things easy had it been on the steering wheel.
The boot gate requires some effort to be brought down and the horn pad is definitely a mile away from the steering’s circumference, needs one of your hands to be taken off the wheel. We weren’t always this good at nit picking, but we’ve specially developed this ability since we knew you’d ask.
I’m sold, should I go buy one?
The Q3 S Edition (base model, no Quattro AWD, 140 bhp) retails for Rs 28.99 lakh, ex showroom, both in Delhi and Mumbai. Then there’s the Premium edition, which is priced at Rs 33.99 lakh, and the Premium Plus, priced at Rs 37.50 lakh. The prices pretty much undercuts its immediate competition, and along with its all-round competence, the Q3 makes itself an extremely compelling buy within the segment.
Here are the specifications: Click for an enlarged view
Continue scrolling for more images with a few words attached…
Those wipers swiped every single droplet off the screen, ensuring we enjoyed the vistas speck free
The unlit strip you see is the humble indicator that lights up in the following pattern sequentially; >>..>>..>>..>>
The Q3 got to the edge of that cliff without making us worry about its underside
Would’ve been as much a sight if the car and the wall could exchange colours
And how we’d like to repeat the above sentence here too
Rear seat is a comfortable place to be seated in
Front passenger seat gets power adjustment levers too
That piece of glass made the cabin look cheerful even on a dark, cloudy day
We got off the hill and the Q3 got us here too with consummate ease
That navigation system is a tricky piece of tech that takes time to get used to
The music system is a joy for your aural senses
The Illuminati console
Foot well has enough space for your feet and a dead pedal
As the revs climb, the 2.0L TDI can get a little noisy, but if you love cars, you’d like the noise
That switch can be used to toggle between the Drive select modes on fly
No individual climate control for rear passengers, no separate volume control dials either
Wood has given way for Aluminium inserts in the cabin this time around