Audi finished off 2011 coming out on top, as the number one premium brand in Ireland, just ahead of its main competitor BMW. For 2012 it plans to expand its presence with a substantial €80 million investment into its dealer network. Eight out of ten Audis sold in Ireland are diesel powered, it was their frugal 2.0l TDI engine that was fitted to the Q3 model I recently drove. Whilst I’m an advocate of Audi’s 3.0l 245hp diesel, this 2.0l variant is pretty much perfect in the Q3. It produces 177hp which I found to be sufficient, mainly thanks to the seven-speed S-Tronic gearbox that works a treat. The Q3 is the entry-point model into Audi’s Q range, sitting below the Q5 and Q7, with its main competitors comprising of BMW’s X1 and the Range Rover Evoque, two tough competitors indeed.
There’s no mistaking the Q3 visually as an Audi SUV, it’s a pity it’s not more radically styled though, to give it a look of its own, rather than the look of a petite Q7. Inside, the Q3 has the correct mix of style and function, customers can choose from a choice of five interior colours and six trim inlays. There’s ample room for front and rear occupants, and an impressive 460 litres of boot space. My test car was finished in SE trim which has all the necessary creature comforts as standard including air conditioning, Bluetooth, ESP and hill hold assist. The MMI stereo is pre-wired for Audi’s Navigation which comes in the form of an SD card for a very reasonable €265. Prices for the Q3 commence from €34,650, whilst the 2.0l TDI SE I drove starts from €42,900.
The Q3 is a positive addition to Audi’s range, it offers motorists a compact SUV complete with Audi’s premium quality as standard.[table “55” not found /]