Audi Q3 Petrol Review
Car Tested: 2013 Audi Q3 2.0 TFSI quattro
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 46,59,500/-
The petrol Audi Q3 offers terrific performance from its TFSI powertrain.
Luxury carmakers are moving quickly to bring more affordable products in India. BMW took the lead with the launch of the X1 while Audi was quick to bring in the Q3, which is raking in the volumes for the company. The Q3 is still brought in via the CBU route and at the time of launch, it was only offered with a diesel engine. Audi introduced a petrol engine on the Q3 earlier this year. The petrol powered Audi Q3 is available only in one variant (top-end) and there is no base grade on offer. We have reviewed the Audi Q3 in detail last year (HERE) and this review of the Q3 is limited to the petrol model. Ironically the petrol Q3 is priced identical to the diesel Q3. At this price, does a petrol SUV make much sense in diesel-loving India?
On the exterior front, the petrol Audi Q3 is identical to its diesel sibling. The only difference which reveals what’s under the hood is the 2.0T badge at the right side of the rear. The alloy-wheels are different too with the petrol powered car getting 10-spoke alloys instead of 5-spoke ones. The Q3 looks like a shrunk down Q5, following the family design language. The vehicle might be quite small but it does have presence. The bold lines and well designed lights are really the highlights on this car. The signature Audi traits are immediately impressive like the large hexagonal grille and daytime LED lights which have been designed with utmost precision.
Step inside and you are greeted by a familiar Audi interior. The cabin is identical to the diesel model except the tachometer and the additional button on the centre console (for the Auto Start/Stop). The dashboard is well put together and you get a plethora of features. The seats are comfortable and are power adjustable in multiple ways to give you that perfect driving position. When we drove the diesel Q3 we complained about the navigation not working and were hoping Audi would tie-up with a local supplier to deliver maps. This still hasn’t been done and the Q3 petrol doesn’t have working maps either. While the cabin feels luxurious, Audi is clearly aware about the Q3 being a strict 4-seater as the transmission hump prevents a third passenger from sitting at the rear seat. Still the company doesn’t offer a centre arm rest, surprising. Other than these two gripes, there is not much to fault with the Q3’s interiors which have excellent quality of finish and come with some really neat touches like the fantastic MMI system which is easy to use and the large panoramic roof which gives an airy feel to the already airy cabin. The boot is a generous 460-litres and the rear seats fold to boost luggage carrying capacity even further.
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Coming to the heart of the matter, the Audi Q3 petrol is propelled by a 1984cc, 4-cylinder engine which uses gasoline direct injection and a turbocharger to produce 211 HP of power between 5000-6200 RPM and 300 Nm of torque between 1800-4900 RPM. This 4-pot motor needs no introduction as it has won multiple awards for its performance. The petrol powered Audi Q3 weighs 1565 kgs and performance from the 2.0-litre engine is simply outstanding. The engine is extremely refined and you can barely hear it at idle. There is almost no lag from this mill and it feels at home both in the city and out on the highways. A small dab on the accelerator pedal is all that is needed to get going and response is immediate. Audi claims a 0-100 km/hr time of 6.9 seconds which is more than a second quicker than the diesel model. Top speed is 230 km/hr and the Q3 is quick to reach 170 km/hr post which progress becomes a bit slow.
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Mated to the 2.0-litre TFSI engine is a 7-speed dual clutch S Tronic gearbox which offers smooth shifts. You have three driving modes to choose from – D, S and M. In D mode, the Q3 is smart enough to sense the pressure on the accelerator pedal and changes gears accordingly. It doesn’t hesitate in skipping gears when upshifting to boost mileage. Depending on throttle input, you could be doing 60 km/hr in sixth gear and the transmission has no issues upshifting at 1700 RPM too. 100 km/hr in 7th gear is at around 1900 RPM. The engine is so brilliantly engineered that it never knocks or feels uneasy even when you are in high gears at low speeds. However the autobox is a bit lethargic with downshifts in D mode and if you really want to enjoy the petrol Q3, it is best to slot the gear lever in S or M mode. In Sports mode, the response is that much more eager and upshifting takes place at around 6500 RPM (upshifts happen at 6000 RPM in D mode). Like all other cars, Sports mode offers a slight jerky feel.
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In spite of the fantastic NVH levels, the Q3’s motor is vocal in a pleasant way which is throaty once past 4000 RPM. In Manual mode, the Q3 will hold gears till 7000 RPM (in lower gears) before upshifting. First gear is good for 52 km/hr, second will see around 84 km/hr and in third you will be doing 130 km/hr. Fourth gear will see you well past 150 km/hr. Power delivery is very linear although a minor shove is felt around 4500 RPM. There is a bit of resistance at lower RPMs and the mid-range is the strongest point of this motor. The engine revs very freely and quickly to its redline. Surprisingly no paddle shifts are on offer and one can manually upshift using the tiptronic function on the gear lever. Audi has added a Auto Start/Stop system which works silently to boost mileage when you halt at signals by turning off the engine. The company claims a mileage of 11.72 km/l which is very much achievable considering the fantastic engine and tall seventh gear. We however were getting around 7.5 km/l which is decent considering our right foot was mostly buried during our road test.
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The petrol version of the Q3 weighs 20 kgs less than diesel model. When we drove the Audi Q3 last year, we were really impressed by its balanced dynamics. Ride quality is good even though the suspension is a bit on the stiffer side. The Q3 glides over roads and only gets unsettled by bad tarmac, which are plenty in monsoon soaked Mumbai currently. Handling is excellent and the Q3 darts into corners with extreme composure. The quattro system gives the baby SUV a lot of grip and even after turning off ESP, there is absolutely no wheel spin. The Q3 has very little body roll but the steering is the real spoilsport with not much feedback at high speeds. While the steering is light at low speeds it only weighs up decently well as speeds build up and not as well as you would expect for a car with such a cracker of an engine. Braking performance is terrific and the Q3 comes to a halt from any speed without any fuss whatsoever.
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The petrol powered Audi Q3 is a seriously fun to drive car. Performance for an SUV is really good and the motor is just brilliant in multiple ways. Floor the pedal and the way this motor pulls the Q3 makes you believe there is a bigger engine under the hood but in reality it’s just a 4-cylinder unit powering the car, impressive. However at a price equivalent to the diesel model, the petrol Q3 only makes sense to the petrol heads who want the practicality of an SUV and fun of driving. There are very few people who would buy a petrol SUV (even BMW discontinued the petrol X1 due to poor demand) but for those who do, the Audi Q3 is undoubtedly the vehicle of choice.
The petrol Audi Q3 is some serious fun but should have been cheaper than the diesel model.
[flickr size=”center” float=”medium”]http://www.flickr.com/photos/motorbeam/9261294836/[/flickr]
* TFSI engine performance
* Interior appeal
What’s Not So Cool
* No paddle shifts