Audi Q3 35 TDI : When Performance meets Luxury

The Audi Q3 is priced at 38.3 lakhs (ex-India)


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Likes:

+ A complete overall package of Performance, space, styling & practicality

+ Brilliant interior quality. Feels leaps ahead of its counterparts

+ 35 TDI diesel engine is superbly mated to the 7 speed DSG

+ Highest GC in its class = no worrying about the underbody scraping in our countryside


Dislikes:

– From an enthusiast’s perspective, the steering feels to light on highways. However, this is a boon in city limits

-Ride quality on bad patches could improve by a considerable margin

-The glaring omission of keyless entry and push-button start. Features that are present in cars costing half the price


What is it? 

Audi has successfully filled the gap in its SUV portfolio with the Q3. It’s a brilliant crossover that’s bigger and taller than the A4 but smaller than the Q5. It’s designed mostly for tarmac, but the raised ride height and optional four-wheel-drive will do a decent job of driving over a relatively rough track.

The Q3’s competitive set isn’t enormous, but it is interesting. It targets buyers who want prestige badges but not large SUVs. Indeed, every entry in this class represents its maker’s smallest crossover and in some cases, its least-expensive vehicle. The Q3 competes against several other upmarket models, including the not-so-stylish Mercedes GLA fluidic BMW X1. For the same sort of money, you can have the bigger Volkswagen Tiguan, Toyota Fortuner or the might Ford Endeavour.


How does it look? 

Starting off at the front then, the Q3 now gets a brushed silver surround around its slightly tweaked hexagonal black grille. And it gets a set of new LED headlamps with an all-new daytime running light design.

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As a small crossover at the bottom of the lineup, the 2018 Audi Q3 straddles a middle ground between the A3 Sportback (hatchback) and its larger Q5 brother. It doesn’t forge a new path for Audi design: it adopts familiar cues to a smaller canvas. The Q3’s design language is unmistakably Audi with clean, proportionate lines. From the rear, it resembles the other Q-line SUVs to such an extent that it’s difficult to tell the Q3 from the Q5 when viewed at a distance.

The updates include a redesigned bumper, large faux air dam and some more plastic cladding. The cladding on the doors features streaks that look distinctive and much better than featureless plastic on the sides of the door. The update also includes standard 17-inch alloy wheels as well as LED headlamps and tail lamps as standard across the range. The Q3 also gets dynamic turn indicators, which is steadily turning out to be a signature Audi feature.DSC_0348

LED headlamps look sharp and are extremely powerful:DSC_0350

ORVM with turn indicator:DSC_0352

The side profile has a definite coupe inspiration that might appeal to the target customer base. DSC_0360

The rear has striking resemblence to its elder sibling, the Q5:DSC_0364

The turn indicator animates from inward to outward:DSC_0333

From the side view, Q3 doesn’t look as big as seems to be. Some C segment cars are longer than the Q3:DSC_0374

Chrome finish on the front grill: DSC_0379

Look how lovely the blue shade looks at night:DSC_0637

Typical Audi turn-indicator:DSC_0639

Dual exhaust:DSC_0409

The rear quarter glass is a big thumbs up. Adds to the airiness of the cabin by increasing the overall glass area:DSC_0434

The ingress/egress to the front seats is the best of the lot. Thanks too the huge GC:

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The rear doors also get pockets that will take a one-litre bottle, The door padding also follows the black/beige theme with textured aluminium inserts. Mesh pockets are a welcome addition to the rear of the front seats. Do notice the change in the design of the scuff plates. They are supposed to be illuminated but we couldn’t get to check them out:DSC_0413

18 inch Y shaped alloy wheels:DSC_0371

Rear antenna:DSC_0492


What’s on the inside?

Audi has a reputation for building some of the best car interiors you’ll find this in their respective classes, and the Q3 is no exception to this ruling. Every single material you’ll find in this cabin are of the highest grade you’ll find in the compact crossover segment, and everything feels solidly put together. The fit and finish are as expected in a German luxury car, and overall the cabin has a sense of premiumness, despite being an entry-level Q model. The seats are electrically adjustable, and there’s also a panoramic sunroof, a feature that’s one of my personal favourites.

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The Premium Plus model gets aluminium inserts instead of wood, which looks far better, in my books. The range-topping 35 TDI Technology also gets dual-tone beige and black interiors, paddle shifters and a reverse camera.DSC_0426

S-Tronic 7-speed DSG gearbox:DSC_0339

The buttons on the dashboard include a dedicated button to change drive modes (Drive Select) and a button to engage HDC (Hill Descent Control):
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The front seats offer superb comfort level and this is where you would love to spend most of your time inside the car:DSC_0431

For rear passengers, there are AC vents and 12V charging point, though a centre armrest at this price point should have been added. Another missing feature is the absence of rear camera for park assist. Though there are proximity sensors on the front and rear, at a price of almost Rs 40 lakhs, this feature should have been included:DSC_0482

The comfortable electric seats are just the same and still offers great all round support and various levels of adjustment that offers the perfect driving position:DSC_0597

MID hoast of an array of info:DSC_0440

Notice the digital compass in off-road mode:DSC_0642

A closer look at the speedo:DSC_0442DSC_0447

Select from different driving modes:

We simply loved the dynamic code. That’s when the steering becomes slightly leavy and confident inspiring: DSC_0449

Scroller knob for volume control feels way more premium than the regular buttons:DSC_0454

This is as close you can get to becoming a real-world F1 champ. What you also now get for the first time ever are the paddle shifters that let you go through the gears much quicker on the tried and tested seven-speed dual clutch gearbox and of course the all wheel drive Quattro drivetrain that lets you put all the 177PS of peak power and a whopping 280Nm of peak torque down to tarmac like its no big deal. DSC_0456

The quality of knobs/levers was top-notch. Seen here is the lever to manipulate cruise control:DSC_0457

Headlamp switch may feel a bit outdated compared to the cars of latest gen: DSC_0458

Official figures show that the Mercedes GLA has a bigger boot than the Q3 (481 litres vs 420 litres) but, in reality, the Q3’s boot makes it the easier to live with. It has a wider opening, which means bulky items can be loaded more easily, and it can accommodate more stuff under its parcel shelf. A large pushchair will fit but a set of golf clubs probably won’t.

The boot remains at 460 litres of storage and the rear parcel tray cover gets a slightly different design:

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The boot floor is not adjustable but there’s some storage beneath it, and it sits almost flush with the opening. There are also a couple of useful cubbyholes in both front corners of the boot, and you don’t have to stretch too much when reaching up for the open tailgate:DSC_0468

There is a parcel-tray available to store the occasional nick-nacks: DSC_0474

The Rear practicality is also alright, with good head and leg room all around and lots of good-sized storage spots dotted about the place, with the door bins and compartments in the centre front armrest getting the thumbs up from us. As with quite a few crossovers in this segment, though, the middle rear seat isn’t that wide, so do bear that in mind if adults will be mainly using the rear seats.at means, two adults can sit comfortably, but taller adults will find their knees pressing against the front seat backrests, and may complain that headroom is tight. The chances of three adults sitting side by side comfortably are pretty slim.DSC_0479

The middle seatback folds down to become an armrest and there are usefully deep pockets on the front-seat backrests:DSC_0477

Notice the elegance of the owner’s manual. Seen in the backdrop is the silver-finished accent on the dashboard that adds to the premiumness of the car:DSC_0603

How does it drive?

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Fitted with a 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine that is extremely refined, the Audi Q3 35 TDI is a joy to drive. The engine delivers 184 PS of power and 380 Nm of peak torque. Mated to the slick seven-speed S-Tronic gearbox, the vehicle goes from 0-100 kmph in a shade over 8.0 seconds, while returning a rather healthy efficiency as well. Talk about having the best of both worlds! The Q3 also comes with different drive modes that include, Comfort and Dynamic settings as well. Last but not the least, the top of the line Audi Q3 35 TDI also gets the legendary Quattro all-wheel-drive technology which ensures you have maximum control while cruising down the highway and can handle a bit of dirt driving as well. Being a high-end offering, the Q3 is also loaded with the latest in terms of safety systems.

 

What is perhaps most impressive – for a compact SUV that will spend most of its time around town – is the way in which the Q3 responds to enthusiastic inputs when you find some winding country roads.

The suspension is set up for comfort and thus is extremely well sprung, a treat considering most roads in India are either bumpy or riddled with potholes. The Q3 is also easy to drive and look out off especially due to the fact that the glasshouse structure in this compact SUV is quite large

The Q3 even comes with the drive select option which the driver can use to adapt to his personal preferences. These include Comfort, Auto and of course, our favourite – Dynamic mode. And the differences are quite obvious immediately. Where in comfort mode the Q3 is comfortable and does tend to showcase considerable body roll, pushing the button to dynamic immediately tends to stiffen everything up making it a much more agile animal.

While the petrol is really good, the 35 TDI engine is the one that takes the cake. What hits you first is the sheer refinement of this motor, and the way the tacho needle races to the redline.

And then there’s the performance. The 184PS, 380Nm engine propels the Q3 from 0-100kmph in just 8.1 seconds, and our tests revealed that in-gear acceleration is quicker than the petrol Q3. While performance has improved, fuel efficiency surprisingly remains pretty much the same as what the previous Q3 returned. At 12.9kmpl in the city and 18.1kmpl on the highway, the diesel Q3’s efficiency is also at par with its segment rivals.

The sharp steering comes into its own, the Quattro drivetrains delivers that sense of surety we’ve come to expect from Audi, and the engine’s power and torque are delivered in clean, linear fashion. The seven-speed gearbox shifts precisely too, further adding to the driving appeal for those of us that like to have a bit of fun.

The changes under the surface make microscopic improvements that you can’t really discern by the seat of the pants, but the Q3, which has always been sure-footed at speed, remains so. You can drive it a lot more like a hot-hatch than an SUV, which says more about the quality of the platform that underpins the Q3.

Intrinsically, it’s a well-designed platform that works well in this segment. With the recent addition to the segment of the GLA, the Q3 needs to be dynamically impressive too, make no mistake about that.

Around town, the Q3’s diminutive size makes it the perfect runaround. It’s easy to slice through traffic, sneak into tight parking spaces and manoeuvre through narrow laneways. Parking is a cinch too, such as the visibility, the quality of the camera and the compact exterior dimensions. If you run around the CBD a lot, you’ll love the Q3.

Can it handle the rough stuff? Well, it isn’t designed for hardcore off-roading and neither will owners venture out with it into such territory. Having said that, the Q3 can deal with a drive away from the tarmac and do a fairly good job of getting over obstacles and through tricky terrain. The ground clearance is apt for such driving and the Quattro system works its magic here as well.

 Should I buy one? DSC_0601

The refreshed Audi Q3 35 TDI is everything you want from a premium SUV in a compact package. It is feature rich, very comfortable, powerful and a safe place to be in. Thanks to the advanced Quattro technology on board, you know you can push it hard if need be and remain in control too. It is a delight to drive is a winner when it comes to offering a premium SUV in a compact package. The Audi Q3 35 TDI is extremely refined, technologically advanced and a powerhouse on wheels.

It’s impressive how Audi has managed to make the Q3 make a lot more desirable on the exterior and especially the interior front while still maintaining its identity. Everything so far seems pretty good about the Audi Q3, bar a few drawbacks and quibbles here and there. As with every other premium compact crossover, though, there is one big issue holding the car back: it’s price tag.

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