With this VW Tiguan–based crossover, debuting at the Shanghai auto show, Audi again has raised the bar in terms of styling and refinement in a segment. The swoopy beltline is similar to that of the A5, and the greenhouse, with its coupe-like daylight opening, evokes the 2006 Roadjet concept. The headlights sport a super-clean shape, but the taillights, like those on the new A6, suffer from a severe case of overbite. Needle-like LED internal elements will make Q3s with the optional Xenon Plus package unmistakable on the road, although the standard head- and taillights look somewhat less dramatic.
Every engine in the lineup is a well-known 2.0-liter, turbocharged four. There are two TFSI gasoline engines with 170 and 211 hp; Audi says the latter will propel the Q3 from standstill to 62 mph in 6.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 143 mph. The diesel lineup consists of 140- and 177-hp fours. A stop-start system will be standard on all engines, and, with the exception of the 140-hp diesel, every engine will be paired with standard all-wheel drive. The future could bring an SQ3 with around 270 hp and a top speed in excess of 150 mph to complement its remarkably clumsy name.
The less-powerful diesel and gasoline engines both will come with a six-speed manual, but a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic will be obligatory on both of the uplevel engines. In addition to its wide ratio spread, this transmission has an interesting fuel-saving trick: If the driver takes his foot off the throttle with the shifter in Efficiency mode, the clutches disengage, allowing the Q3 to freewheel, thereby reducing fuel consumption. Efficiency mode will even take liberties with the air conditioning and cruise control to eke out maximum mpg. Alternatively, Dynamic mode will sharpen the Q3's reflexes considerably. The ESP system includes a function to increase agility with slight brake inputs that Audi swears will be virtually undetectable.
Nobody likes dancing with a manatee, and Audi has gone to great lengths to keep the Q3's weight at acceptable levels. The hood and the gigantic, Q7-like tailgate are made of aluminum, and the body shell makes use of high-strength steel. The lightest Q3 will weigh about 3300 pounds—not bad in its competitive environment. With all five seats erected, it will hold 16 cubic feet of luggage; with the rears folded, capacity rises to 48 cubes.
The interior focuses clearly on the driver, and Audi will offer five different colors with four types of decor, including aluminum and open-pore larch wood inlays. The options list reads like one for a luxury sedan: LED ambient lighting, a panoramic sunroof, sport seats, and a number of driver-assistance systems. Order navigation, and a seven-inch screen rises from the dashboard. An optional Bose surround-sound system packs 14 speakers, with subwoofers that light up at night—perhaps a touch juvenile for our tastes. And a connectivity package turns the car into a WiFi hotspot.
An S-line package—pictured here—will be available, complete with fake front air intakes and a fake diffuser. If the monochromatic look is not for you, anthracite-gray tack-on fender trim will be available; with the contrasting trim, the Q3 looks slim and sporty even sans the S-line package. Wheels will range in size from 16 to 19 inches.
In Germany, the Q3 starts at €29,900 euros, €100 less than a BMW X1. Audi isn’t saying yet whether or not the Q3 will come to the U.S., but, based on the success of the Q5, it might decide to add the Q3 to our roster after all.
Thanks to: Car and Driver