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Audi Q3 First Drive

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Audi has updated its entry-level SUV the Q3 for 2015, since it was first introduced in 2011 Audi has sold in excess of 400,000 Q3’s worldwide. Their new Q3 model line-up has up to 17 per cent less fuel consumption across the engine range, along with an increase of up to ten horsepower. 

The design of the new Q3 has been subtly updated, principally the familiar single-frame front grille now extends into the headlights. All models now have xenon plus headlights and LED daytime running lights, with optional LED headlights and dynamic turn signals available. The practical elements remain, with a luggage capacity of 460 litres, this increases to 1,365 litres with rear seats folded down.

There is a range of petrol and diesel engines powering the newly-updated Audi Q3. We would expect the volume seller to be the 2.0-litre four-cylinder TDI diesel variant with 150hp. This model is front-wheel-drive and comes with a six-speed manual transmission, it wears the Audi ultra badge signifying its efficiency. We test drove this variant along a mixture of German Autobahns and winding country roads surrounding Munich. The Q3 offers a composed ride for front and rear seat occupants, with a high-quality interior throughout. The driver’s instrument binnacle is typical Audi, with outsized clear dials taking centre stage.

 

The power (150hp) provided from the 2.0-litre TDI engine is plentiful, in sixth gear the Q3 can increase its speed on motorways without the need to change down a gear. This can be attributed to its torque figure of 340Nm. We also drove the 184hp model which surprisingly didn’t feel a great deal quicker, it has an additional 40Nm of torque. The only real difference is that our test car was equipped with the silky-smooth seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission. The more powerful TDI variant is also equipped with Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive, a reassurance in wintry conditions. For the majority of Irish motorists the 150hp front-wheel-drive Q3 will contentedly meet their requirements, the main advantage of the more powerful diesel model is the addition of quattro all-wheel-drive. Both models proved to be proficient in handling twisty sections of road, our test cars had the optional Audi drive select system. This enables you to choose from five driving modes, auto, efficiency, comfort, dynamic and individual. Each mode alters the steering, throttle and engine response, along with the ride form the car’s dampers.

For petrol fans there is an interesting new addition to the Q3 range, with the arrival of the 1.4-litre TFSI with cylinder on demand (COD) technology. This front-wheel-drive variant produces a respectable 150hp and 250Nm of torque and is mated to a six-speed manual transmission. To aid its fuel consumption the engine will shut down two of its cylinders when they are not required. This system works seamlessly, we could not tell when the engine had cut two of its cylinders on our test drive. This frugal petrol unit can achieve a combined fuel consumption of 5.5 L/100km.

 

Audi Ireland will be offering the new Q3 in SE and S-Line trim. Just some of the standard equipment on the entry-level model includes, xenon plus headlights, LED interior lighting package, power-adjustable front seats and secondary brake assist. Customers can choose from a range of additional equipment including Audi’s side assist blind spot monitoring system and Audi active lane assist which gently intervenes in the steering if you drive over a road line without indicating.

One worthy piece of additional equipment is Audi’s MMI (multimedia interface) navigation plus. This sophisticated piece of technology enables you to create a wifi hotspot in the car for passengers to connect to the internet. It also enables you to connect to online traffic information and navigation through Google Earth.

 

Spearheading the range is the new powerful RS Q3, the first Q model to join the elite Audi RS family. At the heart of the RS Q3 sits a 2.5-litre TFSI five-cylinder petrol engine that produces a striking 340hp and 450Nm of torque. This enables the car to accelerate to 100 km/h in just 4.8 seconds from a standstill, before going on to an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h. The most notable experience in the RS Q3 is the soundtrack provided from the legendary five-cylinder engine, along with the RS exhaust system. It has a flap control mechanism that enhances the sound when you select dynamic mode, there’s a growling sound on acceleration, with a pleasant burbling noise on lift-off. The seven-speed S tronic transmission provides ultra-fast gear shifts, which is necessary at the rate this Q3 accelerates. The sports steering wheel is perfectly sized and chunky providing great feel to the road wheels. This hardcore variant of the Q3 is easily distinguished with its gloss black honeycomb grille, muscular flared wheel arches and a single oversized oval tailpipe. The RS Q3 is impressive but in reality not the smart buy in today’s eco-conscious environment.  

Both of the Q3’s main competitors are of high-quality and efficient, the BMW X1 and Range Rover Evoque each offer a good sense of style and practicality. This new Audi Q3 is set to go on sale across Ireland next February, although prices are yet to be confirmed we would envisage pricing to commence close to the current Q3 at approximately €37,500.

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