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The big German trio of prestige car makers continue to push down into the top ends of the affordable brands in an attempt to gain market share in attracting new buyers that may not have considered the premium badges in the past.
PRICE AND FEATURES
Audi has just launched a new entry-level Q3 quattro diesel that puts the luxury maker within a few thousand dollars of the highly regarded Subaru Forester AWD 2.0 D-S. The Audi Q3 in base form is just $3000 under the asking price of Subaru's Premium petrol AWD Forester, the 2.0 XT.
Audi and Subaru have AWD technology as major selling, driving and safety points but the new Q3 blurs the line to some extent between the small SUV products each produce.
There is, however, a catch. The Audi Q3 is missing some of the equipment expected of a luxury brand. What is included are 17-inch alloy wheels, leather appointed seating, dual-zone air conditioning, Bluetooth with audio streaming, rear parking system, driver information system, light and rain sensors and front fog lamps.
There are option packs that will bring the entry-level Q3 up the luxury tree, but they will also hit the back pocket. For instance the base model does not have satellite navigation or a rear view camera. But you can fork out $3790 for the Technik package that includes MMI Navigation plus, Audi parking system plus rear view camera and park assist, and Audi sound system.
The Style package at $1050 adds Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights and 18-inch alloy wheels in twin five-spoke design. Nappa leather upholstery costs $2150 while a sports steering wheel with paddle shifters adds $400 to the bottom line.
If you total all options the Audi Q3 would set you back $57,740. But that’s getting away from the reasoning behind this new model – the Audi pitch is simple: the Q3 entry level puts an Audi within reach of buyers that may not have been in that position previously. If you want more fruit, Audi dealers are more than happy to oblige from the options menu.
ENGINE / TRANSMISSION / ALL-WHEEL DRIVE
The 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine puts out 103kW of power at 4200rpm and 320Nm of torque between 1750 and 2500rpm. This is put to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
The quattro system is Audi's point of difference from the other premium German makers, Mercedes-Benz and BMW and it's proving a winner. In 2004 just 26 per cent of Audi sales were made up of quattro fitted cars. Fast forward to 2013 and so far this year quattro sales have peaked at 67 per cent. The new entry level Q3 is aimed at further increasing the quattro bandwagon with a model that is `affordable' to people who may not have considered the Audi brand previously.
The new Audi Q3 was launched to the media out of Albury and we drove it on a variety of roads with lovely twisting high-speed tarmac to slippery gravel bush tracks that showcase the Q3’s AWD abilities.
In addition we were let loose for a spot of paddock bashing -- improving skills in driving an AWD vehicle on a slippery surface. It's an impressive car with an even more impressive engine that licks diesel fuel at just 5.8 litres/100 km on the official fuel consumption test.
The engine puts out 103 kW of power at 4200 rpm and 320 Nm of torque between 1750 and 2500 rpm. This is put to the wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. While some of the luxury items may not be in the base model the Q3's handling and performance are simply spot on.
The Audi Q3 is currently the German marque’s best-selling model in Australia range and easily outsells BMW's rear wheel drive only X1 by around 40 per cent. "It's the best selling SUV in its segment," said Audi Australia managing director, Andrew Doyle. "This model is significant because it creates a more affordable entry point into quattro, making it unrivalled in this class."
|2.0 TFSI Quattro (125kW)||2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$16,100 – 22,440||2013 Audi Q3 2013 2.0 TFSI Quattro (125kW) Pricing and Specs|
|2.0 TDI Quattro (130kW)||2.0L, Diesel, 7 SP AUTO||$16,700 – 23,210||2013 Audi Q3 2013 2.0 TDI Quattro (130kW) Pricing and Specs|
|2.0 TFSI Quattro (155kW)||2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$18,400 – 25,630||2013 Audi Q3 2013 2.0 TFSI Quattro (155kW) Pricing and Specs|
|2.0 TDI||2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN||$16,900 – 23,540||2013 Audi Q3 2013 2.0 TDI Pricing and Specs|