Audi has freshened up their Q3, and we’re happy to say that it continues to deliver a splendid all-rounded drive experience.
Photos: Eric Chen
The Audi Q3 has had some success here in Singapore where SUVs are extremely popular. But we are a small market after all, and with so many car models to choose from, car makers are constantly trying to woo customers with new product launches and their latest updated cars. So just as one might start to notice the aging lines on the Q3, Audi has prepared the latest facelift for its compact SUV that will help to extend its life a bit more.
Two engine variants are available. A 1.4 TFSI that pushes 150 bhp and a 2.0 TFSI with 180 bhp. We’re driving the 1.4 TFSI petrol version for this article (Azfar will share his thoughts on the 2.0 TFSI later), and from the onset the car is already rather promising.
Visually, the facelift is a success. A new aluminum-effect frame grille dominates the front end and there are edgier horizontal lines that sharpen the overall look of the car. New LED headlights and dynamic turn signals in the rear LED taillights come standard. A new set of 17-inch alloy wheels also debut and sports a chunky and rugged design that fits the new look of the car perfectly.
The Q3 is a compact SUV, so the interior space is nothing to shout about. However, that does not mean that it’s small. The Q3 will still ferry five adults, albeit with some squeezing at the back, but the cabin comfort makes up for that. Quality leather, a quiet interior and a pliant suspension setup mean that being in Audi’s entry-level SUV is not much different from being in its flagship Q7 SUV. There's also ample room for your luggage. The Q3 offers 420 litres of space in the boot - fold the rear seats down and the capacity expands to 1,320 litres.
The 1.4 TFSI doesn’t come Audi’s famed Quattro, instead it ‘makes do’ with front-wheel drive coupled with ESC (Electronic Stabilization Control). With 150 bhp and 250 Nm of torque on tap, you’re never short on power in the Q3. The claimed 8.9 second century sprint and 204 km/h top speed is highly believable.
The chassis copes well with hard cornering and there was never a time that I wished for the car to have 4WD. Grip from the set of 235/55/17 Dunlop Sportmaxx was more than enough and the Q3 performed admirably in a series of twists and turns I put it through.
Gearshifts are handled by a 6-speed S-tronic dual-clutch gearbox. While it certainly is quick on the move, it tends to lag when moving off from standstill. The steering feel could do with a bit more weight and feedback too. But then again, most people buying this car won’t agree with me on that. The light steering weight is great for parking and the bulk of Audi Q3 buyers who are likely to be women (my sister has one), will appreciate that.
The new Audi Q3 is handsome, drives well, and is well-equipped. Specced with standard modern features like Start-stop system, Audi drive select (driver profile function), and a new Audi MMI infotainment system with a fold-out colour monitor, any small family would appreciate the offerings from this luxury compact SUV. At around S$180,000, the updated Audi Q3 is not cheap, but you do get what you pay for.