The first generation Audi Q3 was a massive success story in India despite having strong rivals like the Mercedes GLA and BMW X1 all thanks to the fact that the vehicle offered durability, competent engine options, snob value and good driving manners at a very good price point. The older Q3 sees good demand in the pre-owned market today too, but the world has moved on to more modern cars. Couple of years back Mercedes brought in the new GLA, while the second generation BMW X1 went and in came the third generation recently. Audi’s new Q3 made its global debut quite a while back and the launch kept getting delayed but the vehicle is now here, and it is here to impress.
Exteriors – The second generation Audi Q3 has grown in size compared to its predecessor. It is longer by 94 mm and wider by 18 mm while the height has gone down by 1 mm. The wheelbase has gone up by 77 mm too. The Q3 sits on chunky 18-inch wheels and the SUV is underpinned by VAG’s MQB A2 platform which is used on many global models like the Volkswagen Tiguan, Jetta, Skoda Kodiaq, etc.
The design is typical Audi and I think it looks fab. The nose has this imposing stance while the side shows off the car’s not-so-big dimensions. The lines have sporty touches and the derriere looks amazing too. What could have been better is the design of the wheels. These silver-coloured wheels look very simple and don’t do justice to the car’s overall styling. I’ve seen much better designs in Audi’s global portfolio and a sexier set of wheels could up the desirability quotient of the Q3 massively.
Interiors – The previous Q3 had a very basic interior layout and the new one here is exactly the opposite. Audi seems to have cut no corners in making the cabin feel rich and premium. It shows in the fit & finish, quality of materials and the overall look and feel you get when you sit inside for the first time. I love the dark interior colour theme and it gels well with the exteriors too. I’ve driven the older Q3 a lot of times and compared to that, the new one does feel a few notches up.
The seats are quite big in size, and they aid towards offering amazing comfort on long drives. The driving position is quite nice too and so is the outward visibility. The controls on the centre console are neatly laid out and it takes barely a few minutes to get acquainted with the cabin. The steering wheel is meaty, the Virtual Cockpit is crisp and so is the 10.1-inch infotainment system which is easy to use and throws out good sound quality too. You get 10 speakers including a 6-channel amplifier and a front central speaker!
Coming to the rear, the extra wheelbase is evident because you get better leg room. The shape of the rear seat is also very good, however, I’d think of the Q3 as a 4-seater and not 5. The seat base is quite short for the middle passenger and that coupled with the tall hump may make things uncomfortable. The rear seat can be reclined and the backrest angle is just about perfect. The boot capacity has gone up by 70-litres and you now get 530-litres of boot space which can be expanded to 675-litres.
Other features on the vehicle include dual-zone climate control, panoramic sunroof, LED lights, electrically adjustable front seats, ambient lighting, traction control, driving modes, 6 airbags, etc. ADAS features are conspicuous by their absence here.
Performance – The new Audi Q3 doesn’t get a diesel engine and it is offered only with a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder, TFSI engine delivering a good 190 HP and 320 Nm. This is significantly more output than what is offered by the Q3’s arch rivals X1 and GLA which get 3-cylinder petrol engines (both of them get a diesel though). This is a very creamy engine that is not only very smooth but also a proper blast when you gun it. Power delivery is almost instantaneous and the engine’s mid-range is so strong, it’ll make you addicted to the pull. It is a powerplant that can chug along at 100 km/hr all day long and give you quick bursts of power whenever you want.
Audi has tuned the engine and gearbox amazingly well and that reflects in the fun-to-drive nature of the car. It is a very sorted powertrain combo and I had an absolute blast on an early morning 200 km drive. You get the usual driving modes like Comfort, Normal, Dynamic, Individual and Off-Road, while quattro is also standard with the vehicle. Audi claims a 0-100 time of 7.3 seconds while top speed is rated at 222 km/hr. The good thing about this engine is that it doesn’t drink a lot of fuel if you drive the car sensibly. You can achieve a very respectable 13-15 km/l when going easy on the throttle. Of course, push hard and the car gulps down fuel faster than you’d imagine.
Driving Dynamics – The one thing I liked a lot on the older Q3 was its driving feel. The way it tackled bad terrain and the way it stayed planted on different types of roads. Audi’s new Q3 has evolved from that and safe to say, the new one also feels quite robust that way. The tyres have more than enough grip and you can do a fair amount of soft-roading without any worry. The ride is well-sorted for our roads and the steering also has decent feel, though it is not as communicative as I’d like it to be. The vehicle also boasts of very strong brakes. Body control is really good and you can have proper fun pushing this car on the twisties, it is that nice!
Verdict – The Audi Q3 may have arrived to India quite late but it more than makes up for it. It offers almost everything that a buyer in the compact luxury SUV segment would want. More than enough power, good driving manners, a well-sorted cabin, excellent design – what more do you want. Yes, for those who want only a diesel, there are other options but keeping that aside the Q3 is super impressive. Of course, prices have gone up significantly too. This Technology trim you see here costs Rs. 60 lakh (OTR, Mumbai) while the lower Premium Plus trim is around Rs. 6 lakh cheaper. Yet, this is at par with rivals so if your heart is set on this car, it would be wise to look for attractive deals at multiple dealerships in and around your city before pulling the trigger.