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Audi Q3 2012 review

As a small(ish) SUV the Audi Q3 makes a big first impression.
EXPERT RATING
8

The Audi line-up of sports utility vehicles has just been stretched with the addition of the Q3, a versatile premium compact that joins the queue as little brother to the Q5 and Q7.

VALUE

Pricewise, at $54,500 the Q3 TDI quattro S Tronic is at the top end of the segment, with rivals such as the Hyundai ix35 Elite T/D, Kia Sportage TDI and Skoda Yeti 103TDI up to twenty grand cheaper. The difference to a great extent is made up by the degree and standard of fit-out.

The Audi is very well equipped, with Bluetooth and audio streaming, rear view camera with guidelines, information system and multifunction leather steering wheel standard on all models.

DESIGN

As a small(ish) SUV the Audi Q3 makes a big first impression, especially up front where an assertive stance is reinforced by Audi’s trademark tall radiator grille. It’s flanked by headlamps (with xenon lights as an option) and distinctive LED daytime running lights.

The shape of these LED strips is repeated with the rear lights, again LED, just part of a sporty sign-off enhanced by twin exhaust tailpipes. In profile the Q3 follows the present-day shape common to many of this ilk – tall sides, bold wheel arches filled out by stylish 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in low rolling resistance tyres, and with a roof that curves coupe-style to a wraparound rear tailgate.

It’s a package that gives this vehicle an aerodynamic edge, with a non-SUV like drag coefficient of just Cd 0.32 to top the class in aerodynamic efficiency. The black paint job on the outside of the test car extended to the cabin interior, which featured black leather trim with dark brown inserts, the sombre feel being reinforced by dark brown leather seat upholstery.

In time, however, the funereal finish became less creepy. The surroundings were also redeemed to some extent by a soft-touch dashboard surface surmounted by a seven-inch pop-up screen presenting full-colour sat-nav map and a suite of car system info

TECHNOLOGY

One of four 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines – two petrol, two diesel – on offer in the new Q3 range, our test vehicle’s powerplant combined direct fuel injection with turbocharging. It was mated with Audi’s seven-speed S tronic automatic transmission.

With up to 130 kW on call, backed by 380 Nm of torque between 1750 and 2500 revs, this Q3 TDI is capable of hitting hit 100 km/h from rest in 8.2 seconds. Two shift modes are available – Drive and Sport – in ‘D’ the engine working as hard as possible at fuel saving low revs; while in ‘S’ the gears are held, changing up at higher revs.

Fuel consumption on test hovered around five litres per 100 kilometres cruising on the open road at the legal speed limit - that’s hybrid territory – while in the city, with the stop/start facility in full swing, at times it ran out to twice that, the latter, as always, depending on traffic conditions and the driver’s mood.

DRIVING

An accomplished package, whatever work the car was put to the motor responded almost instantly to pedal pressure, the gearbox shifted cogs quickly and quietly in automatic or optional manual mode via a lever on the centre console. The auto in our Audi did not feature steering wheel-mounted shift paddles, which are an option.

Power is put to ground via Audi’s tried and tested quattro all-wheel drive system that delivers optimal grip on the road through slip-free acceleration and directional stability even in slippery conditions.  The command driving position, thanks to comprehensive seat adjustment, is comfortable and gives good all-round visibility through expansive windows.

Occupants of the test vehicle also enjoyed the benefit of Audi’s optional drive select system, which via a button on the centre console, allows the driver to choose how the vehicle should be driven. Choices are ‘Comfort’, ‘Auto’, ‘Dynamic’ and ‘Efficiency’, the last having all systems, including air-conditioning and cruise control working to deliver maximum fuel saving.

The engine incorporates the latest stop/start feature which cuts power when the car is stationary. Some people say they find this fuel-saving technology annoying – the eerie silence and then the anxiety that, in the middle of heavy traffic, maybe the engine won’t start up on releasing the foot brake. You soon become accustomed to it and enjoy the feeling you’re doing something to improve the air we all breathe.

VERDICT

Audi says it is aiming the Q3 at what it calls ‘Urban Navigators’, young successful professionals, middle-aged couples and families who want an urban SUV that can be used for recreation, plus empty-nesters who lead an active lifestyle. It has much to offer in this context.

MODEL RANGE

Q3 2.0 TDI 2WD: $44,800 (manual)
Q3 2.0 TDI quattro: $54,500 (automatic)
Q3 2.0 TFSI quattro: $47,000 (manual)
Q3 2.0 TFSI quattro: $48,950 (automatic)
Q3 2.0 TFSI quattro: $56,000 (manual)

Pricing guides

$19,439
Based on 30 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$14,980
Highest Price
$24,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
2.0 TDI 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN $15,400 – 21,780 2012 Audi Q3 2012 2.0 TDI Pricing and Specs
2.0 TDI Quattro (130kW) 2.0L, Diesel, 7 SP AUTO $14,980 – 22,999 2012 Audi Q3 2012 2.0 TDI Quattro (130kW) Pricing and Specs
2.0 TFSI Quattro (125kW) 2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $15,950 – 24,990 2012 Audi Q3 2012 2.0 TFSI Quattro (125kW) Pricing and Specs
2.0 TFSI Quattro (155kW) 2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $20,000 – 21,499 2012 Audi Q3 2012 2.0 TFSI Quattro (155kW) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8
Pricing Guide

$14,980

Lowest price, based on 7 car listings in the last 6 months

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