The second-generation Audi Q3 has touched down, with just one engine choice and two trim levels. But while the end of 2019 sees only a base and ‘Launch Edition’ arrive, 2020 will see the arrival of several new Q3’s including a rapid RS Q3 rocket. Chris Bowen attended the local launch at Byron Bay, NSW.
What is it?
The new Q3 35 TFSI Launch Edition I tested here is still a compact SUV. However, it is so much bigger than the outgoing model, it creates almost a new category for the brand. It straddles the gap between the Q2 and Q5 with far more authority, having 18mm of extra width, 35mm more headroom, 77mm longer wheelbase and 70 litres of extra boot space. You could almost confuse it with a Q5, almost.
Of course, being a new model, it scores the latest Audi look, tech and safety features. The Singleframe hexagon grille with prominent vertical slats dominates the front, a new bonnet line and other clever creases give the front end more of taller look, plus the rear-end scores a steeply raked D-pillar with a rear spoiler completing the look.
The interior presents you with the latest generation Audi interior, well parts of it anyway. The MMI navigation plus system includes Audi Connect as seen on the new A6. You won’t get the twin screens found in the A8, A6, and Q8 but the interior sports most of the new age digital look Audi has gone for of late.
Behind the wheel
It’s been some time since I’ve driven a non-quattro Audi, those models will arrive next year. Plus, for now you’ll have to make do with a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine, 2.0-litre TFSI engines are on the way but take note there will no diesel model.
Audi vehicles impress immediately because they have the best instrument cluster in the game, the virtual cockpit. While I’m used to it now, throw a mate in the car and it literally blows people away. The HD full Google Mapping is just superb.
But let’s talk about the drive. Both myself and my drive partner for the day were both modestly impressed by the smallish engine. It has enough torque in the right places to genuinely provide some entertainment should the mood take you.
Being front wheel drive, you’d expect some tugging of the wheel when pushed through corners hard. But the suspension and traction control systems are refined enough to scrub away any front-wheel drive gripes.
It’s a well sorted SUV, with minimal body roll. A short stint in the back seat on a rather spirted run was still comfortable, I’m not prone to car sickness at all but I feel the Q3 is stable enough to help those who are, from any seat.
You know a car is reasonably fun when you go reaching for paddle shifters, sadly on the Q3 35 TFSI there ain’t any. But at the end of the day this is no rocket, with a 0 – 100km/h sprint time sitting at a leisurely 9.2 seconds.
The 35 TFSI model is by powered by a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine. It produces 110kW at 5,000-6,000rpm and 250Nm at 1,500-3,500rpm. A six-speed S tronic transmission sends power to the front wheels, I couldn’t detect any issues with the box at all.
Some standard features include, 18-inch alloy wheels, convenience keyless entry and start, electric tailgate with gesture control, two-zone climate control, real leather-appointed seat upholstery, ambient interior LED lighting package plus a contrasting lower metallic paint finish in Manhattan grey.
There are Comfort and Style option packages on offer plus an as-tested Launch Edition. It throws in extra goodies such as 19-inch rims, metallic paint, tinted glass, folding side mirrors, high-output Audi sound system, auto dimming interior mirror, electric front seats with electric lumbar support, heated front seats, a 360-degree parking camera plus Adaptive cruise assist.
Wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless charging is on offer via a bay that’s big enough to accommodate today’s biggest phones. Audi Connect allows app connectivity as we saw on the A6, introducing a whole range of remote features to the Q5. It’s basically a bridge between your car and the internet, via a built-in sim.
Digital radio is standard, but it’s the hybrid radio feature I enjoy the most. Wherever there’s no DAB coverage, which is more often than not, the radio will switch to the online streaming broadcast of whatever station you’re listening to.
Audis are safe as a bank with all the usual features and them some, including Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) with cyclist and pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane change warning, rear cross-traffic assist, tyre pressure monitors, hill descent control, parking sensors and a clear rear-view camera. The Q3 has already been awarded a 5-star ANCAP safety rating based on European NCAP rating.
The Q3 35 TFSI S tronic starts at $46,400, while the Q3 Launch Edition 35 TFSI S tronic is $52,750. You can throw in a 15 speaker B&O sound system for just $900. A comfort package is $2600, a style or black package adds $1,900 while metallic paint will set you back $2,600. Fuel economy is rated at 7.2L/100km.
Why would you buy one?
Because you’re a young professional, a couple with a combined income of $182,000 or an Empty Nester that loves tech. These are Audi’s exact reasons anyway!
Plenty of people will hang out for the more powerful models next year, but for now Audi claims up to $12,000 of extra value with more simple packaging. It’s actually a tad more expensive than the outgoing model, but Audi claims when you consider most chose the Technik Package on the outgoing model, it almost ends up even anyway. It’s a great start for the popular model, as I said in my video review it’s no excitement machine, but Audi really can screw together a car very well. It’s an 8.1 out of 10 from me.