Classy new Q3 comes at a premium
Audi has become a pretty significant player in the sports utility market over the fifteen years since we first met Q7 that icy Bavarian winter and today it certainly offers a bit of everything for everyone. It also seems that the four-ring brand is not just content to keep the best for the larneys either, if this second-generation Q3 is anything to go by — a latest, almost entry model, it packs in most of the goodies we’d expect from its top of the range brethren.
We think that while it is clearly a sausage cut to Q3 length in the great Ingolstadt sausage factory, this is still a very good looking car to start with. Significantly sportier than its predecessor, the new three now benefits Audi’s latest Q design language with its so-called octagon single frame grille, hungry ducts and edgier LED headlights with their cool dynamic turn signals up front in a neat overall styling effort.
They also promise a sportier, more spacious, adaptable and more practical cabin and that MMI-dominated bi-level dash in a cool mix of colours and materials does not disappoint in an extremely practical cabin. Our blue sample had the more somber steel grey trim propped up by pinpoint LED lighting and we were impressed by Audi’s handy and highly variable 7-stage tilting 40:20:40-split back rear bench.
But the most impressive Q3 aspect is that splendid latest large-screen touch-response Multimedia Infotainment digital cockpit interface that not just echoes big brother Q8, but it majors to make driving this lower-end sports ute an absolute executive pleasure. Talking tech, Q3 driver assistance now spreads to the expected but irksome lane departure warning along with a few welcome tricks the likes of 360 degree camera cross traffic park assist.
Q3 offers good visibility from the cabin and also comes fully packed with intelligent realtime navigation that bases trips on previous journeys, an Apple Car Play or Android Auto compatible phone box that both inductively charges your smartphone and links it to Q3’s antenna and there's both a conventional and a new type C USB port. Ours even packed splendid optional 680 watt 15-speaker Bang & Olufsen Premium sound.
Settle in, switch it on and drive, and while Ingolstadt reckons it performs well, we found Q3 to be somewhat underwhelming on the road and our VBox concurred. Q3 certainly is easy to drive, but we expected a bit more from Audi’s latest 110kW 250Nm turbo direct petrol injection fourteen-hundred turning the front wheels via a six-speed semi-auto S tronic box.
Audi also promised that the longer wheelbase Q3 would take to bumpy roads with ease with its McPherson strut front and four-link rear underpinnings, especially with this one’s Audi drive select dynamic handling system. It was, although we found the ride to be a touch harsh. This so-called 35 TFSI of Q3s however thoroughly impressed on fuel — it is as economical as promised for sure, which likely even makes it snowflake compatible. Imagine that!
There’s one further promise we are not too sure of — this new Q3 comes at a pretty hefty price tag. Now we are not saying it does not deliver on its six-hundred grand asking price, but it does have quite a few class rivals that can be had for a hell of a lot less. Sure, they will be a coporomse versus this high tech machine, which if it fits your budget, delivers plenty. And then some.
Suppose it’s a case of horses for courses at the end and at this high stakes handicap, Audi may just have a winner… — Michele & Giordano Lupini
Images - Phillip Makhonde
ROAD TESTED: Audi Q3 35 TFSI S Line S Tronic
Engine: 100kW 250Nm 1.4-litre turbo petrol I4
Drive: 6-speed DC Auto FWD
0-60km/h: 4.21 sec
0-100km/h: 9.69 sec
0-160km/h: 26.02 sec
400m: 16.9 sec @ 136km/h
80-120km/h: 6.88 sec
120-160km/h: 12.55 sec
Fuel: 5.9 l/100km
CO2: 162 g/km
Warranty/Service: 1y unl/5y 100Kkm
LIST PRICE: R600K