Audi’s new Q3 has all the DNA of its bigger brother, the Q5, at a more affordable price.

Story By Peter Pap

Looking at Audi's new Q3 you have to do a double take – the size and design is so close to it’s bigger brother the Q5 you could be forgiven for mistaking the two.
There are four engine choices available starting with the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine with 103kW and 320Nm of torque. It’s available only as a two-wheel-drive with a six-speed manual gearbox priced at $44,800. Next is the 2.0L turbocharged petrol engine with 125kW and 280Nm of torque using Audi’s Quattro drive system with prices starting at $47,000 for the manual or the automatic seven-speed transmission priced from $48,950.
Moving up to the more powerful models there is the 130kW 2.0L turbo diesel engine developing 380Nm of torque at just 1750 rpm starting at $54,500. And lastly the 155kW 2.0L turbocharged petrol engine with 300Nm of torque, which can accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 6.9 seconds! Each of these is fitted with the same Audi Quattro and S-Tronic seven-speed auto with no manual option available.
The interior is typical Audi – beautiful in design, quality of materials and finish. It’s quite spacious and sound isolation in the cabin is better than the Q5 especially on rough roads where the chassis feels that little bit more solid. Rear passenger space is on par for its class with a generous 460L of luggage space and with the seats folded flat up to 1365L.
The electromechanical speed-sensitive steering is extremely light and fluid, almost too light as you can turn it with one finger. Once on the move the weighting firms up nicely but lacks a lot of road surface feel. What it lacks in feedback through the steering it makes up for in grip as it corners very flat and with the Quattro all-wheel-drive system keeps it planted on any surface. The chassis balance is very neutral with very little understeer and body roll and you quickly gain confidence in the Q3’s ability on any surface. The electronic-stability control is fairly unobtrusive as well working perfectly with the drivetrain.
The S-Tronic seven-speed automatic with its dual clutch is fantastic with smooth seamless gear changes. The gearbox has two shafts that upload consecutive gears so they’re ready to be engaged. You’d be hard pressed to find a better gearbox in any SUV. The manual gearbox on the other hand, as good as it is, is quite pointless when you have an auto box that is this good. As well as that the foot pedal arrangement isn’t ideal for spirited driving in the manual.

This story excerpt is from Issue #85

Outback Magazine: Oct/Nov 2012