There’s an old adage, which says, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Well, they could well be talking about the German wars between Audi and Mercedes in India. In particular, the arrival of the Mercedes GLA here in India, which has made Audi launch this version of the Q3, unimaginatively called Dynamic, the car is the top most variant you can buy of this baby SUV and offers all the bells and whistles Audi is known for, in particular the company’s poster boy for technology, Quattro system is standard, but more on that later.
Audi has beefed up the original Q3’s styling quotient. There is a strong dose on chrome on the car’s face, especially on the grille. The front bumper gets different housing for the fog lamps and the rear lamps also get a new sophisticated looking design, which gives the Q3 plenty of bling. Overall this compact SUV manages to look urbane and slick in its design and those-baby Q7 looks are sure to appeal to a large audience.
We’ve come to expect the best cabins from Audi both in terms of design as well as overall quality and the Q3 lives up to our expectations. Every material used is absolutely top notch and even the lower end of the dashboard uses high quality materials. The dials are clear and easy to read, and look sporty as well. This car also gets a central screen mounted on the dashboard which shows the settings for stereo, navigation and the drive assist. The seats are comfortable and very supportive on both rows. Headroom and shoulder-room is not a problem either. In fact, where the Q3 has a clear advantage over the Mercedes GLA is in rear seat legroom as well as comfort. The boot is well shaped too and can genuinely hold your luggage for that weekend trip to the hills.
Engine, performance and gearbox
The car comes with the 2-litre 174bhp diesel engine that powers plenty of cars in the Audi-VW- Skoda family. This engine is supreme on refinement and passengers in the rear seats won’t be able to tell that it’s a diesel engine powering the car. Where the engine also excels is in delivering a very punchy mid-range. There is a waft of torque available between 2,000-3,500 rpm which really propels you forward in the best possible way. Even when you rev the engine hard it remains quiet for the most part.
Power delivery feels very linear and that’s largely due to the intelligent seven-speed automatic gearbox, which feels absolutely effortless when shifting gears. In fact, its one of the best gearboxes on an SUV at this price point.
Ride and handling
This is a SUV that has the handling prowess of a premium hatchback. In fact it feels like you are driving a tall hatchback on stilts. Body roll is well under control and never an issue. The steering offers genuine feedback from the wheels up front and the generous grip levels from the tyres help add to the sense of confidence in the car’s driving dynamics. The Q3 feels very sure footed and will reward the keen driver, who enjoys pushing his car hard into corners around the hills or on a race track.
What also aids the driving dynamics is the car’s all-wheel drive Quattro system, where power is sent to all four wheels. This makes the Q3 a genuine 4x4 and not just a namesake SUV. In fact we were given an off-roading track to drive the car on and the Q3 performed with considerable aplomb. Sure, most buyers will never really take it on a off-road surface but it’s always good to know that your SUV can take on the rough and tumble should the need arise. This car also gets Audi Drive Select system where you can change the cars suspension settings by the click of a button. Buyers can select from auto, comfort and dynamic.
Safety and equipment
Being an Audi means that safety and equipment will be generous. So you get the obligatory ABS, with EBD as well as six airbags. You also get traction control, automatic climate control as well as the legendary all-wheel drive Quattro system.
The Mercedes GLA is the closest rival. While the baby Mercedes SUV certainly has the edgier look, it simply cannot match the Audi in terms of overall space, comfort as well as true off-roading abilities.
The Q3 comes across as a good all-rounder, it looks posh on the outside, has a comfortable and classy cabin. That along with a punchy diesel engine and genuine 4x4 capabilities make this one of the best option in this compact luxury SUV segment.