The new Audi Q3 is in showrooms around the country.
Audi Malaysia have been very quiet since their office got scaled down to a small operation. All major Audi operations are handled from the Singapore office which takes more pride in looking after the growing Singapore market.
All Audis sold in Malaysia are fully imported. This puts its selling price on the high side unlike its immediate rivals Mercedes, Volvo and BMW.
These have local assembly to bring their prices down. Even with solid, sexy and powerful models, Audi is hardly making a dent in the premium market.
Like Lexus, Audi has to pay higher import taxes and be contented with smaller volumes and a handful of showrooms in the country.
The new SUV
The new Q3’s immediate rivals are premium crossovers that are fully imported, like the BMW X2 for RM328, 000 and the Lexus NX300 which retails for RM313, 888. The X2 looks a little smaller and the NX a little bigger, so the Q3 slots right in between.
But the locally assembled BMW X1 sells for RM233, 800 and the Mercedes GLA200 for RM239, 888.00.
The Q3 looks much sportier than its predecessor. The Singleframe in octagon design and large side air inlets characterize the masculine front-end. Eight vertical bars divide the radiator grille and reflect the SUV character.
The headlights are narrow and run inwards with their wedge shape. Audi supplies them in three versions, all with LED technology.
The top-of-the-line version are the Matrix LED headlights whose adaptive high beam intelligently illuminates the road.
A highlight in the side view is the symmetrical lighting graphics of the headlights and rear lights.
The shoulder line connects them from a styling perspective and provides an athletic overall impression with strong muscles over the wheel arches.
The contours draw their inspiration from Audi’s quattro DNA and makes the SUV seem even wider; the colour-contrasting wheel arch trims emphasize the off-road look.
Supported by a long roof edge spoiler, which also flanks the rear window at the side, the steeply raked D pillars of the body line create an appearance of forward thrust.
The Audi Q3 offers for customizing include a contrasting paint finish for the attachments in the lower body section, which accentuates the SUV look even more.
With the S line exterior package, the bumpers, sill trims and diffuser look decidedly sporty. Eleven paint colours are available.
The interior offers a choice of three equipment lines, which can be combined freely with three exterior packages.
Sporty character, taut lines, three-dimensionally styled elements – the interior continues the design of the exterior.
The instrument panel is divided into two levels: the top part includes the air vents; the bottom section incorporates the large octagonal area with its black-panel look.
The high-gloss black trim surrounds the central element of the new operating concept: the MMI touch display. Together with the air conditioning controls underneath, it is tilted 10˚ toward the driver. All displays, buttons and controls are located ergonomically.
Q3 space concept
The Q3 is based on the Volkswagen modular transverse matrix, and has grown in virtually all dimensions and is positioned in the upper compact SUV segment.
It is 4,485 millimetres long, making it 97 millimetres longer than its predecessor. In terms of width, it has grown 25 millimetres to 1,856 millimetres, but at 1,585 millimetres it is 5 millimetres flatter than the first-generation Q3.
Its wheelbase has been stretched 77 millimetres to 2,680 millimetres and is much more spacious with larger knee room, headroom and elbow room.
The Audi Q3 is easy to get into, with good all-round visibility, yet offers a sporty seating position. The steering wheel is steeply angled accordingly. The seats are electrically adjustable.
The rear seats can be moved fore/aft by 150 millimetres. Their three-way split in the ratio 40:20:40 can be tilted in seven stages. Rear passengers have the option of a centre armrest that features two cup holders.
Depending on the position of the rear seats, the luggage compartment capacity totals 530 to 675 litres. With the backrests folded down the figure rises to 1,525 litres.
The loading floor can be adjusted in three levels; the low loading sill of 748 millimetres makes it easier to stow heavy luggage.
The operating and display concept of the family SUV has been overhauled from the ground up as Audi has done away with analog instruments.
Even with the standard MMI radio there is a digital instrument cluster with a 26 centimetre screen diagonal, which the driver operates using the multifunction steering wheel.
From ignition this Audi is quiet and serene. Build quality is in keeping with Audi standards but the use of parts from the Volkswagen catalogue reduces its premium feel as its sibling, the Volkswagen Tiguan is almost RM100, 000 cheaper.
Audi is part of the VW Group, but Audi is a premium sibling and so a much more premium cabin is expected, like with Toyota and Lexus.
Many parts are shared but Lexus takes the trouble to add a sense of occasion in their models over their Toyota siblings.
Easy to drive in town, agile on older roads, a balanced feel on the highway, the suspension on the Audi Q3 offers exactly what the buyer demographic looks for in a Crossover today.
It takes bumpy roads with ease thanks to the longer wheelbase. The driver can vary the ride depending on road conditions or personal needs.
It offers six drive possibilities from comfortable to efficient to sporty. The system influences the throttle response, steering and shift characteristics of the S tronic.
Seating for five adults is easily done despite its compact look as it is actually wider than it seems.
Getting spirited with the Q3 is easy as it delivers an entertaining drive when called on with its surefooted handling and well damped suspension.
The 1.4L turbocharged engine does not let you down in quick city driving and you can reach illegal speeds easily on the highway.
Q3 final word
Is it worth it? Yes, for sure. The Q3 sits between its rivals offering more or else what every other rival has and still being priced right in the middle.
Audi Q3 1.4 TFSI S tronic Specifications
Engine: 4-cylinder TFSI
Power: 150bhp @ 5000-6000rpm
Torque: 250Nm @ 1500-3500rpm
Transmission: 6-speed S Tronic
Top speed: 207km/h
Price: RM269, 900.00