Audi was a little late to the SUV game. Despite being masters of all-wheel-drive technology with its renowned Quattro systems its first SUV, the Q7, appeared in 2005. Since then the SUV product offensive from Ingolstadt has been ramped up to include several models of varying sizes, including the recently launched mid-size Audi Q3 35 TFSI. We spent a few days reviewing the newcomer.
The Audi Q3 is now in its second generation and is an all-new package. Styling is in line with other new models from the brand, such as the Q8 (read our review here). In appearance, it is far more aggressive and bold, a far cry from the dour and rounded treatment of its forebear. The newer car looks fresh and onlookers took note of it more than we would have initially guessed.
… and inside
It is no secret that Audi produces some of the finest interiors in the mass-produced end of auto manufacture and the Q3 doesn’t let the team down. Taking centre stage on the facia, and tilted slightly towards the driver, is Audi’s all-new infotainment system. The touchscreen interface offers high-definition graphics and is quite intuitive in operation. It is, unfortunately, a nightmare for people (like me) who despise fingerprints on interior surfaces. The centre screen is complemented by a digital instrument cluster, which is standard fitment in the Q3 range.
Standard specification is quite high across all Q3 models. Buyers can enjoy dual-zone climate control, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and interior finish, LED interior illumination, automatically activated lights and wipers, smartphone connectivity, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, rear parking sensors and multiple Isofix points to name a few.
Thanks to increases in width (18 mm) and wheelbase (77 mm), the Q3 now offers plenty of space on the sliding rear bench seat, and will comfortably accommodate three adults. Boot space, too, has increased to a maximum of 675 mm with the rear seats still upright.
Click here to read our Audi RS4 Avant driving review.
For now, Audi is offering just one engine/transmission option. A turbocharged 1,4-that develops 110 kW and 250 N.m of peak torque. This engine is mated with an S-tronic dual-clutch transmission featuring six gears and is connected exclusively to the front wheels. In keeping with Audi’s new(ish) naming structure this model wears the Audi Q3 35 TFSI badge. Audi claims this powertrain will sip 6,9 L/100 km in the combined cycle.
While there is only one engine on offer at the moment, you can have your Audi Q3 35 TFSI in one of three flavours: Standard, Advanced or S Line. Each is denoted by model-specific trim and styling options – too many to go into here. More powerful Q3 derivatives are on their way in the shape of the RS Q3.
Smooth as custard
We spent the better part of a week behind the wheel of the Audi Q3 35 TFSI and walked away impressed. The engine, though small, has decent power and smooth delivery. In overtaking situations, though, you really should mash the gas pedal to make speedy progress. Being relatively small the 1,4-litre doesn’t have a forceful hit of torque when you really need to make swift progress.
A real highlight for us was the quality of the ride. The Q3 is based on VW Group’s MQB platform that underpins so many VW/Audi models. In this guise, it has been fitted with a suspension set up that is simply superb. The smoothness of ride along our usual test route highlighted a set-up that will make many larger SUVs feel crashy. We are thoroughly impressed in this regard.
Should you buy the Audi Q3 35 TFSI? That depends on your budget, first and foremost. But if you are fortunate enough to be shopping in this segment then you should really give it a try. Not only is it a stylish and modern package, but it is also sufficiently well-specced as standard and rides beautifully. Some may feel that the 1,4-litre engine lacks poke, but that will be addressed when Audi SA launches more powertrain options in months to come.
Model: Audi Q3 35 TFSI
Price: from R565 000
Engine: 1,4-litre inline-four, turbocharged
Transmission: six-speed automatic, FWD
Max power: 110 kW
Max torque: 250 N.m
Top speed: 207 km/h
0-100 km/h: 9,3 sec
Fuel consumption: 5,9 L/100 km