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The 2015 Audi Q3: Evolved ability

In its 2015 avatar, the competent Audi Q3 enhances its appeal with added flamboyance and features

With a tagline that says ‘Start Young’, the new Audi Q3 makes no bones about its target audience. Upwardly mobile young execs with an elevated sense of brand consciousness are the biggest growth drivers for premium car manufacturers in India, and these are the people who the new Q3 has within its crosshairs. The Q3 has always been one of best-rounded products in the entry level premium segment, and in its refreshed, slightly glammed-up avatar, this do-all Audi crossover shines even brighter. While there were already many positives working in its favour, Audi has honed the Q3 some more. The 2015 Audi Q3 gets a slew of design updates and a whole bunch of interesting features for a fresh new appeal. Here’s why it’s such a dominant force in the premium segment.

Audi Q3
Price: Rs 29-37.5 lakh (ex-showroom)

Design and styling
To start off, the new Q3, for most part, carries over the powertrain and underpinnings of its predecessor, so the changes on the 2015 version are largely cosmetic and feature related. The car gets a new three dimensional single frame grille as the most prominent design change. The radiator grille also gets chrome surrounds, which extend into the headlamps. The new design looks more distinctive than the subtle, understated Audi grilles of yore.

Audi Q3

Another important change is that the car has lost the fog lamps. Moreover, the faux air scoops in the bumper now feature a C-shape to add more angularity to the front. Beneath the tiny air-dam, you witness a slim, horizontal silver lined garnish for the bash plate.

The shape of the headlight has changed, which now features LED tech and a new shape for its DRLS
The shape of the headlight has changed, which now features LED tech and a new shape for its DRLS

The headlamps have been redesigned, too. The new units now feature LED illumination on the top variants. The daytime running lights have been reshaped, and now form an angle on the outside. The tail-lamps have also been duly redesigned and the rear blinkers now light up sequentially in the direction of the turn, making the Q3 a bit more spectacular for the trailing traffic.

Engine and transmission remains totally unchanged; though the combo is still potent enough to hold its own against its rivals
Engine and transmission remains totally unchanged; though the combo is still potent enough to hold its own against its rivals

On the sides, the 17-inch 10-spoke alloys get a new design. The panels on the side are the same as before, except for the under-cladding, which now features a new element. The 2015 Q3 will also be available in three new colours.

Engine and Transmission
Th Audi hasn’t changed anything about the powertrain, and the hardware on the previous version is still responsible for putting the wheels on the 2015 version in motion. Currently the car is available only with a 2.0 TDI diesel, mated with a 7-speed S-tronic transmission.

Back seats are spacious and comfortable enough for the class, and come with a dedicated AC vent
Back seats are spacious and comfortable enough for the class, and come with a dedicated AC vent

Power and torque figures remain unchanged and the new Q3’s peak power continues to be rated at 174 bhp @ 4200 rpm with peak torque output reading a very healthy 380 Nm between 1750 – 2500 revs. The Q3 is good for a top speed of 212 kph with a 0-100 km/h sprint time of a fairly quick 8.2 seconds. Like before, the fairly punchy engine delivers good performance and revs without any resistance all the way up to 5000 clicks. The motor gets a tad audible towards the higher spectrum of the rev range, but we’d rather have that mildly sporty sound than not have it at all.

Wheels
Apart from the new design of the 17 inch alloy wheels, the Q3’s side profile remains largely the same

While the engine-tranny combo remains unaltered, the new Q3 does get steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters for the 2015 version. The S-Tronic automatic transmission features D and S modes, where D is meant for everyday driving and S for the feistier occasions. The S mode will up-shift relatively late and downshift faster for a dynamic drive experience sans the need to shift manually.

You can also choose the manual mode by moving the drive selector to its left. In manual mode, the transmission would refuse to swap ratios all the way up to 5000 rpm and up-shift thereafter if you don’t do so manually using the steering mounted pedals or the drive selector.

Over and above all of that physically accessible wizardry, the Q3 also comes equipped with Audi’s drive select. Audi drive select comes with three different settings to choose from. You may use the dedicated switch above the AC controls or navigate through the MMI system to select between Comfort, Dynamic or Auto modes.

In Comfort mode, the suspension switches to its cushiest setting, steering becomes lighter and transmission stretches its legs over a lounge chair for a comfortable, efficiency oriented drive.

Dynamic mode on the other hand stiffens the suspension setup, moves the shift points higher up the rev range, and tautens the steering to get the Q3 primed for some corner carving action. Auto mode configures the settings automatically based on your driving style and the road surface. And it’s no marketing gimmick, this system actually works, and can make a world of difference to your driving experience.

The icing on the cake is the Quattro all-wheel drive system that equips the Q3 with loads of grip and poise even when pushed hard around bends. Even in challenging, slippery conditions, the AWD system manages to endow the Q3 with enormous grip and directional poise which a car in this segment should be proud of. The ride and handling balance of this compact crossover is amazingly good, especially for the category it sits in.

Cabin and features
A few changes have been made inside the cabin as well. Audi is offering the Q3 with a black-beige or an all-black cabin now. The overall layout of the cabin largely remains the same as before, though the materials used for inlays and linings have been changed in a few places. The wooden inlays on the dashboard and door pads, for example, have been replaced with what Audi refers to as the Aluminium Tangent inserts.

The top of the line ‘technology’ variant comes loaded with full satellite navigation, 20 GB of storage space for music, a neat sounding Audi sound system, rear-view camera with dynamic guidelines and a panoramic sunroof as standard. The model also offers two memory card slots, Bluetooth connectivity, LED interior lighting package and power-adjustable front seats. Anti-glare mirrors everywhere are standard too.

The Q3 now also comes with a unique dock beneath the front central armrest, where you can pair your cell phone to use the car’s radio antenna for enhanced signal reception. This reduces the cellphone’s effort to receive cellular signals, thus extending its battery life. The instrument console also gets a display screen which now shows you the terrain you’re driving on, the track that’s being played on the audio unit, phonebook information and a multitude of information related to the car, which can be controlled using the buttons on the steering wheel.

Verdict
The Q3 may not be the most glamorous car to look at in its segment, nor is it the most exhilarating to drive, but none of its rivals can touch it when it comes to doing everything just right. The Q3 has always been a leader in its class, and with good reason. Spacious, feature rich, sure-footed and comfortable with a fair degree of off-road capability, the Q3 has an assortment of virtues which its current rivals simply can’t match. Retailing at Rs 29 to 37.5 lakh ex-showroom, the Q3 not just matches, but undercuts its competitors on price, presenting itself as the most natural, most ambidextrous option in
its segment.

Technical specs

Engine:  2.0 TDI, 4-cyl, turbo diesel
Engine power: 174 hp @ 4200 rpm
Engine TORQUE:  380Nm  @750 – 2500 revs.
Transmission: 7-speed S-tronic, dual clutch automatic

Rivals

BMW X1

BMW X1
BMW’s contender in the premium compact SUV segment scores high in terms of driving dynamics and handling. The X1 also offers itself as the most powerful option in the segment with 184 bhp on tap from its two-liter diesel engine. The top of the line xDrive variant features the tech to get you out of a rut, too. This BMW, however, doesn’t win many brownie points for space and comfort. Features and equipment aren’t much to write home about either. The X1 should appeal the most to those who love driving themselves. A facelift of the model is on its way, so you would do well to wait a few months if this driver-oriented car is what you’re willing to buy.
Price:  Rs 31-38 lakh

Volvo v40 cross country

Volvo V40 Cross Country
NEW Volvo cars, unlike their older counterparts are getting increasingly appealing stylistically, even overshadowing their German counterparts in some cases. The Volvo V40 Cross Country crossover is one such car, offering the legendary safety of Volvo in a contemporary, well equipped, compact package. The Cross Country is a beefed-up version of the V40 hatchback with bigger alloy-wheels, wider tyres, body claddings, roof rails, skid plate and blackened rear view mirrors. It’s a great package for the family guy, but not very well suited for the driving enthusiast. Worth considering if exclusivity is high up on your priority list.
Price:  Rs 27-34 lakh

Mercedes-Benz GLA

Mercedes-Benz GLA
There's no questioning the GLA’s stylistic superiority over its peers. The equipment list is generous and the natty crossover scores high in terms of practicality too. The lack of an all-wheel-drive is a sore point, though not all buyers in this segment are going to miss that piece of equipment much. The engine and transmission package in both the petrol and diesel avatars is a bit underwhelming for the segment. The GLA, though, is the car to pick if styling and visual appeal takes precedence over everything else for you.
Price: Rs 38–40 lakh

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