2012 Audi Q3 | road test
|Good||Excellent blend of hatch and crossover, Interior lighting, Silky smooth transmission|
|Bad||Turbo lag, boring design makes it hard to differentiate in the Audi line-up|
|Specs||2.0 liter turbocharged engine, 211 horsepower, 300 Nm torque with top speed of 230 kmph|
|Price||AED 146,000(starting), AED 199,000(as tested)|
A hot hatch on stilts
In 1994 the Toyota RAV4 gave birth to a completely new segment – the Crossover SUV. Fast forward 18 years, the segment now has a compact, a mid range and a luxury flavor to it. With every manufacturer competing for market share in this segment, Audi has followed suit and launched the Q3 which is the smallest Audi SUV. So small in fact it feels and drives like a hatchback. We drove the 2012 Audi Q3 for a couple of days in and around Dubai and here is what we think about it.
The Audi Q3 is available with a choice of two engines, both 2.0L TFSI engines. The entry level engine puts out 170hp, while the top spec engine comes with 211 hp and 300 Nm of torque and accelerates the ‘Baby Q’ to 100 in just 6.9 seconds. The dual clutch 7 speed transmission is silky smooth with quick gearshifts but can be a bit of a bother at times. With every turbo engine comes turbo lag and this is no different for the 2012 Audi Q3.
In comfort mode, the engine up shifts faster than you would like it to and is a little hesitant to shift back into first gear. This results in low boost and a sluggish rolling start. In dynamic mode the lower gears are preferred and this makes the ride a little twitchy. After a few attempts of trying to understand how the transmission responded in different situations, we found the best option to be the paddle shifters which gave us complete control over gear shifts. Especially during spirited driving. The Quattro AWD system comes as a standard. The grip it offers is phenomenal and inspires enough confidence to take turns at sports car speeds putting a smile on your face while on your way to work after dropping the kids off at school.
There is a choice of 2 driving modes, Comfort and Dynamic. In Comfort mode, the steering is light and makes highway driving very comfortable. The suspension takes care of most road imperfections without spoiling ride comfort even a tiny bit. In Dynamic mode, the steering becomes sharper and the car responds more like a hot hatch rather than a crossover. There is also the preferred Auto driving mode which switches between Comfort and Dynamic based on driver inputs. Most of our driving was done on this mode and it performed just like we expected it to.
In spite of being the smallest crossover in the ‘Q’ line up, there is plenty of space in the rear to comfortably seat anyone less than 6ft with ample legroom and headroom. The tailgate has a neat wrap around design allowing a wider opening to the rather large boot. With good driving dynamics, excellent interior room and a great interior this makes for an excellent compact crossover.
The Audi Q3 is packed with features. Our test car had the Equipment package and the Style package which included a Panaromic sunroof, LED interior lighting and S Line exterior trimmings. The interior illumination is practical while being strikingly aesthetic with the white LED highlights around the speakers, cup holders, AC vent rollers and inside the door handles. Other optional equipment is the BOSE sound system to play your favorite tunes via high fidelity speakers.
The parking assist helps park your car in tight spaces although it did seem a bit of a hit and miss when we tried it out. To be fair, the Audi Q3 is so compact and comes with an excellent turning radius that you would rarely ever need to use this feature! The Audi Multi Media Interface is handy and pairing our phone was fairly simple. It also comes with a blind spot indicator to assist with lane changing.
Another useful feature was the auto e-brake which automatically applies the e-brake when you come to a stop thereby allowing you to lift your foot of the brake. The e-brake automatically disengages when the accelerator is pressed again. The Comfort Key is available as an option which allows you to unlock/lock and start/stop the car without ever having to take the key out of your pocket.
With a starting price of AED 146,000 it is only slightly more expensive than a hot hatch. Once all the goodies are added on, the sticker price is AED 199,000 which is inclusive of a 5 year, 105,000km service contract. It may seem like a lot of money for a little car, but those that do not need the extra space will find that it offers a lot of equipment in a little package.
The 2012 Audi Q3 combines the response and handling of a hatchback with the driving position and interior room of a crossover to deliver a brilliant package. Audi is targeting the affluent baby boomers with this model and the Q3 delivers all that a young family would look for in a car. The lighting package adds LED accents all over and very cleverly lights up the interior making it a very nice place to be in. If only it had more than the bland Audi styling it would make it that much more desirable.
2012 Audi Q3 Specs
|Price to||AED 199,000
|Engine||2.0-litre 4 cylinder turbo charged (as driven)|
|Max power||155 kW/ 211 hp|
|Max torque||300 Nm|
|Transmission||7 - speed, dual clutch S tronic gearbox with drive and sport mode, steering mounted pedal shifters|
|Drivetrain||permanent all wheel drive quattro|
|Top speed||230 km/h|
|Acceleration||0 - 100 km/h in 6.9 seconds|
|Standard features||Start Stop system, permanent all wheel drive quattro, rear view camera, 7 inch color display with navigation and 20 GB hard disk, iPod/USB connectivity, Bluetooth|
|Optional features||Panaromic roof, lane change warning system, Bose audio system,|