While this looks excellent when you see the Audi SUVs neatly arranged side by side, it resulted in a complete lack of notice by the general public. Normally on the drive program for a launch in Australia more than one bystander or fellow motorist will give the new vehicle a long and hard stare.
Then probably point it out to others as we cruise past. Or call out to us at red lights and ask, “Is that the new (whatever)?” This is then followed by positive – occasionally negative – comments on the all-new model.
With the Audi Q3 – nothing. Which must be a disappointment to the design team, because despite the obvious similarities between the new Q3 and the well established 5 and 7, the Q3 really does have a style of its own. An extremely pleasant style that we thoroughly enjoyed during the two-day media introduction in northern NSW and southern Queensland.
Audi’s latest iteration of the trademark ‘single-frame’ grille works well and in conjunction with the slim headlights and sporty sub grilles creates a purposeful stance.
The rear end is new Q3 is almost a hatchback rather than a station wagon. The roof slopes down for improved aerodynamics and the hatch has a sleek shape. However, the luggage area is incapable of carrying tall boxes if the rear seats are occupied, because the angle of the tailgate means its upper edge sits over the top of the seat backs.
Power for the new Audi Q3 comes from a quartet of 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines. There are two turbo-petrol and a pair of turbo-diesel powerplants. The petrol units produce up to 125 kW or 155 kW of power and are quiet, smooth and reasonably economical. The diesels are rated at 103 kW and 130 kW and have characteristics almost as good as their petrol brothers.
Though the ‘Q’ in the name of the Audi SUVs stands for ‘quattro’, Audi’s name for all-wheel-drive (AWD)
Which won’t matter to most buyers as they have no plans to go off-road in the first place. However, these suburban dwellers looking for an upmarket trendy German SUV will be shocked to find the cheapest Audi Q3 only comes with a manual gearbox.
Automatics are offered in every other Q3 model and are seven-speed double-clutch units that we found worked well during our introductory drive stints.
Handling is impressively good, all the more so when you remember these are family wagons not sports machines. We pushed several different variants of the Audi Q3 over sealed and unsealed roads and found them to have excellent grip. Grip that’s so good that there is little need for intervention from any of the electronic safety aids.
The all-new Audi Q3 is a highly competent small-medium SUV that will appeal to many Australians shopping in this, the fastest growing area of our car market. Our feeling is that the Q3 is so good that it may well steal sales away from big brother Q5. Biggest brother, Audi Q7, is safe from internecine competition as its chief selling feature is the ability to carry seven people.