When Audi launched the Q3 in 2012, it was the only crossover in its class to sport full-time 4WD and thankfully, that aspect hasn't changed yet.
Updated for a mid-life facelift, it looks more butch now with the Single Frame Grille that extends to the headlights. Speaking of headlights, they are now an all-LED affair up front so the fog lights are gone from the bumper. At the back too, the dynamic LED tail lights are inspired by the R8 supercar which use an animated pattern for the turn indicators.
Inside the cabin, things are more or less the same but Audi has been generous with the equipment. Reversing camera, panoramic sunroof, gearshift paddles, anti-glare mirrors, new MMI interface, Audi sound system with 10 speakers scattered around the cabin and 2 SDHC card slots. The instruments remain the same but the dash gets smarter inlays with a 3D effect aluminium inlay and optional LED lighting package which seems to be all the rage nowadays.
A large rear parcel tray comes as standard in the Storage Package for this updated model now and it's a useful addition to a proposed people carrier. Although the lack of a rear armrest still baffles us and our elbows are still complaining of the discomfort.
Nuts and bolts
The tried and tested 2.0lt diesel motor has been retained and it churns out an adequate 177bhp that sounds slightly better than a vacuum cleaner but gets the job done. It is refined though and a great city runabout, just don’t breed aspirations to outrun an A3 TFSI anytime soon though. The 7-speed Stronic transmission is quick to react and now even more engaging thanks to the addition of paddle shifts behind the steering wheel. The Audi Drive Select gives you the option of Comfort, Dynamic or Auto modes and each of them vary the throttle response, steering weight and shift ratios to make the experience a bit more ‘lean back and relax’ or ‘sweaty palms exciting’. Well, we may have exaggerated a bit for the sake of glamour but the truth is that they do feel significantly different although the Auto mode is where most people will just find their sweet spot for urban driving. Grip is fantastic, thanks to the Quattro 4WD system and the rain-slashed B roads of South Goa were the perfect place to build up our confidence. There was hardly any sign of understeer and if you aren’t in a major rush to get somewhere, this can be a fun little runabout. Steering is precise if a bit numb of feedback but nothing that’s out of place on an entry-level SUV.
But the true revelation is the ride quality on the tweaked suspension with Comfort Package and the new 17in Y-design wheels. Always compliant and never too crashy, it blends agility and luxury superbly for a car this size and Audi engineers should be patted on their collective backs for this.
With the standard Sat/Nav system and the phone cradle in the centre armrest that uses the cars external antenna to boost clarity and reduce power usage, the new Q3 has all the creature comforts you would need. The huge sunroof lets in massive amounts of light and helps in creating an airy ambience. The quality of materials and craftsmanship is typical Audi, with controls being nicely damped and soft to touch. It always was a better selling crossover than the BMW X1 and the Mercedes-Benz GLA but now with the Technology trim and its included goodies, it’s become a sweeter package. Audi will be revealing the price on 18th June during the official launch of the car but as of now it’ll be sold only with the diesel engine and one variant. Get in line, it’s going to be a long one at the booking counters.