If there ever was a sweet spot in Audi’s burgeoning SUV range, it was the Q3. Flanked by the pint-sized but ridiculously-priced-for-India Q2 and the quintessential luxury offering, the Q5, if you were in the mood to keep it light and tight, the Q3 was it. And now, the baby Q makes more sense than ever since the Q2 has run its course in India and the Q3 comes in to fill the slot, at almost the same price!
Audi Q3 40TFSI review
The “all-new” is no exaggeration here. The Q3 might have taken a sabbatical, but it’s back with a more sculpted, sharper and contemporary look so it was time well spent away. The angular LED headlights have more in common with the A6 and along with the larger single-frame grille, make the face a lot more purposeful and powerful. The theme continues on the side profile with a broken belt line that beefs up at the shoulders to give it a presence and a clean but distinctive rear. The Q3 is like taking Reese Witherspoon to meet the family…everyone loves her!
For all those complaining about Audi cabins looking all too similar to each other, say a prayer because the Q3 is like the first rain after a sweltering Indian summer….more than welcome. Audi’s layered treatment of the dashboard allows for the use of different textures and materials, lifting the ambience. Quality has always been one of Audi’s strong points and the Q3 impresses with details like knurled knobs for the climate controls, the illuminated Quattro logo and the lovely weave on the trim panel. Ambient lighting could’ve been a bit more indulgent and the resolution of the rear-view cam is my pet peeve with all Audis but these are minor inconveniences when you consider how right the driving position, ride height and overall ambience of the cabin feel. Okapi Brown leather is the easiest way to liven things up and in tandem with the Q3’s new Pulse Orange colour, you can’t help but smile being inside or around it.
It’s been a minute since Audi last updated its infotainment system and while the MMI system is logical, it just looks less vibrant than the competition with 2D icons scattered across a dark-themed OS. Again, nothing wrong per se but when you don’t have wireless phone mirroring (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) in a car that costs this much, you start questioning their choices. Of course, you can plug devices in via the USB-C ports and charge them wirelessly and the Q3 also has a brilliantly handy device storage bin on either side of the rear bench. Rear passengers don’t get any charging points, but then can slide their seats back and forth for added seating flexibility, so you gotta choose your battles.
Choose the Technology variant and you get an upgraded Audi sound system that is par for the course, MMI Navigation Plus with Audi Phone Box that augments your phone’s signal strength via the cars antenna and a few other perks like aluminium inserts in the cabin, electric tailgate and Audi Drive Select.
Behind the wheel, there is no dispute. The Q3 with its 2.0L 192bhp petrol engine is a smile a second machine. Rev happy and buttery smooth, put your foot down and this baby Q flies like it’s got RS wings. A sub-7.5 second time to the 100kph proves that! Dynamic mode on the Audi Drive Select is predictably snappy and wants to take a chunk off the car in front so you have to be alert with the throttle pedal. Stop-go traffic can sometimes get tricky, but slip it back into comfort mode and the character of the Q3 changes to a more relaxed and laid-back approach. Suspension is stiff but barring the worst metro-ravaged sections of Mumbai, it never felt any less than a luxury car, so Audi has judged this well for handling and comfort balance. Steering is light but direct and makes for effortless all-day driving and the brilliant virtual cockpit still has the best combination of dials and map. If you do decide to go off the map, you do get a helping hand from Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system and the ground clearance was more than appreciated during my drive around the city, which, as of November 2022, is no less than a dirt track.
Rear set legroom is more than enough for even the vertically blessed but the lack of charging ports might have some of them miffed. The sliding option can widen the gap between the front seats even further or open a bigger 675 litres of cargo space, depending on where the seats are. A nice touch are the seat squabs which are extended compared to the fifth (centre) seat and provides enough underthigh support for most individuals.
What makes the Q3 so endearing and hard to resist is its superb blend of everyday practicality and fun-to-drive powertrain. It’s eager, responsive and addictive in how it puts power down without any drama and its compact dimensions make it the proverbial hoot. Yes, in terms of tech, it is a bit of a hit-and-miss, but it manages to feel modern and very premium thanks to the outstanding quality of finish and materials packaged in a refreshing design, inside and out. The Q3 then is perfectly poised to put Audi on the top of the SUV charts!
The right engine in the right size makes this an explosive package. Q3 is the new benchmark for compact SUVs.
|Acceleration:||0-100km/hr in 7.3secs|