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Is the new Audi Q3 Dynamic the best premium SUV?

Audi India ups the ante by adding more features and style to its bestselling compact SUV, the Q3 with the Dynamic variant

The Audi Q3 has dominated the premium compact SUV segment ever since its Indian debut in 2012, and for good reason. Well-proportioned, spacious, decently equipped and economical to own for its class, the Q3 fits the bill for those who want a genuine German car without having to rob a bank, or be a politician. Not the ones to rest on their laurels, the blokes at Audi India have introduced a more stylish and more capable version of the compact SUV. The new Q3 Dynamic lays claim to being the best premium compact SUV in India. Is it, really?

The changes in the Dynamic variant aren’t subtle, so the extra money you spend  will show.
The changes in the Dynamic variant aren’t subtle, so the extra money you spend will show. Pics/Amit Chhangani

Design and styling
The top-of-the-line Dynamic variant features distinct design cues to differentiate itself from the lower variants. The changes aren’t subtle, so the extra money you spend will show. The 14 vertical bars on the bold singleframe Audi grille now get a liberal dose of chrome. Also new is the aluminium under-cladding below the front bumper which adds some contrast and character to the fascia. It also underlines the Q3’s off-roading prowess, bestowed upon it by the legendary Quattro all-wheel drive system. The bumper by itself is different and now features new faux side air intakes and chrome-lined elliptical fog lamp housings.

The 17-inch Trias design alloy wheels are new and exclusivel to the Dynamic variant
The 17-inch Trias design alloy wheels are new and exclusivel to the Dynamic variant

On the sides, the Q3 Dynamic remains largely unchanged with only the new 17-inch alloys offering some distinction. Audi prefers calling the new 5x3-spoke alloy design ‘Trias’ and we quite like the way it looks. At the rear, the Dynamic variant gets newly-styled clear lens tail-lamps with a characteristic design. The illuminated brake lights, which are in the shape of tongs, make the black tail-lamps look brighter. It’s an interesting design — very subtle, yet highlighted in places that matter.

Powertrain, ride and handling Audi haven’t tinkered with the delightful engine-transmission setup of the Q3.

The push-to-pop screen above the central screen allows control over the car’s features, including Drive Select using Audi’s MMI interface
The push-to-pop screen above the central screen allows control over the car’s features, including Drive Select using Audi’s MMI interface

The Dynamic variant is powered by the 2.0-litre 174 bhp engine, mated to the capable 7-speed dual-clutch S-Tronic auto transmission. The big change with the Dynamic variant, though, is the inclusion of the Audi Drive Select feature. The new introduction allows the driver to choose from Comfort, Auto and Dynamic modes. In Comfort mode, the system loosens up the suspension and steering, and commands the brilliant 7-speed, S-tronic dual-clutch transmission to bring down the shift points for easygoing, seamless and efficiency oriented ratios swaps.

The Dynamic variant features uniquely-styled chrome and black tail-lamps. We love the way they look
The Dynamic variant features uniquely-styled chrome and black tail-lamps. We love the way they look

Conversely, the Dynamic mode stiffens the suspension to reduce body roll to the least possible levels, makes the steering tighter and lets the tacho needle go higher up the rev counter. How high the tacho needle travels, however, remains subject to the amount of lead in your right foot. Auto mode tries to constantly juggle various settings to suit the road conditions and your driving style as well as an electronic brain possibly could. We would, however, suggest you choose either Comfort or Dynamic mode depending on the terrain and your mood.

Switching to Comfort from Dynamic mode, you can feel the difference in the ride quality almost instantly. On undulating roads, the handling-oriented, unyielding suspension in Dynamic mode turns supple and absorbent as you switch to Comfort.

We drove the new Q3 variant on the Kari Speedway circuit. Pushed to the limit, the Q3 gets a tad ‘uncomfortable’ in Comfort mode with its soft suspension setting. Switching to Dynamic mode remedies the issue to a great extent. The car feels tauter, the steering, though still devoid of communication, gets heavier, offering a more planted feel with the downshifts becoming more frequent and up-shifts happening at a higher engine speed.

A standard size sunroof comes at no extra cost. You’ll have to pay extra for the panoramic  variant, though
A standard size sunroof comes at no extra cost. You’ll have to pay extra for the panoramic variant, though

Interior and features
The interior remains unchanged with an all-black treatment and subtle brushed aluminium highlights in certain places. Walnut brown inlays on top variants including the Dynamic trim offer some contrast to the cabin along with a rich feel. The big change is the Audi Drive Select, as mentioned earlier.

The full list of equipment available on the top-of-the-line Q3 Dynamic variant is quite long, though the customers can choose from the lower S Edition 30TDI (140 bhp), or the Premium and Premium Plus 35 TDI (174 bhp) variants offered with lesser features and a lower price tag. A 5.8-inch retractable MMI screen, Audi Music Interface, rear parking aid, sunroof, driver information system, light and rain sensors, Quattro permanent all wheel drive, Xenon Plus headlamps with LED daytime-running lights, dynamic headlight range adjustment, automatic climate control and powered front seats are the most mentionable of the numerous features. Buyers can also opt for a panoramic sunroof.

Off-roading capability
In all honesty, the Q3 is not meant to raid a humid, slushy, mosquito-ridden rainforest from one end and come out triumphant, all smeared in muck at the other. Having said that, the Q3 does come equipped with a fairly competent all-wheel drive system, the very well-known Quattro AWD to be specific, and is capable of overcome moderate off-road challenges. It’s got an impressive approach and departure angle, rides tall above the ground and claws on to the surface confidently with all four wheels.

The Q3 can overcome obstacles which your everyday small car would likely get wrecked trying to clear, and can look glorious on a custom made off-road track. Audi had one prepared for us at the Kari Speedway venue, and the Q3 demonstrated its ability to tackle challenging terrain in full — coming out with flying colours on every single attempt.

The Audi Q3 may not be a full blown off-roader which would pull itself out of the slimiest, sandiest or the most rock-ridden surfaces, but as we write this review, it’s most definitely superior to the other options in the segment when it comes to treading the trail less trodden.

Technical specs 
GLA 200

Engine: 1,968cc litre turbo diesel
Power: 174 bhp @ 4,200RPM
Torque: 80 Nm @ 1,750RPM
Fuel efficiency (ARAI): 15.77 kmpl
Transmission: 7-speed dual clutch S-Tronic
Drivetrain: AWD

Our Verdict
The Q3, without a shade of doubt, is one of the most well-rounded SUVs for its segment. There’s hardly anything it does wrong. Over and above that, the Q3 is the only SUV in its class that comes equipped with an AWD system, giving it a reasonable amount of off-roading capability. On the downside, it may not be the best-looking option for some. It's also not the sharpest driving tool out there. So whether or not you should be buying this car depends entirely on your preferences. The Q3 Dynamic, though the most expensive variant, comes loaded to the gills with features. There are  3 other variants to choose from for the more price-conscious customers. With all its virtues, and being the segment leader, the Q3 most definitely warrants a test drive, if a premium compact SUV is something you are looking for.

Price: Rs 38.5 lakh (All prices, ex-showroom, (Q3 Dynamic); Lower variants start from Rs 24.5 lakh

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