2015 Audi Q3 is all set to be launched in India on June 18. With noticeable cosmetic updates and feature additions, the refreshed premium crossover is primed to lure younger audience. We made a quick trip to a rainy Goa to acquaint ourselves with the latest iteration of Audi’s best selling Q model.
New Audi Q3’s front fascia has been subjected to a comprehensive makover. Conforming to the brand’s latest design direction, edgier aluminium finished singleframe grille, angular headlamps with intricate detailing, large bumper fins and sharp chin make for a sportier countenance.
Save for new 17-inch alloy wheel design, there is nothing new in profile. Same came be said for rear fascia, except for the revised combination lights with funky dynamic turn indicators (lights up progressively to form an illuminated sweep). And yes, the facelift adopts new variant nomenclature (35 TDI instead of 2.0 TDI).
Audi has introduced two new exterior color options to the existing palette. Overall, new front fascia and minor styling changes have given Q3 a fresh and sportier image. Younger audience are sure to find the new design more appealing compared to previous model
Design changes to interior are limited to new 3D aluminium inlays (instead of wooden inserts) on the dashboard, gear selector surround and door trims. Dual-tone black-beige color theme has been left intact.
As always, dashboard layout boasts of sound ergonomics. The cabin is high on material and build qualities. Dials, knobs and buttons discharge their duties with tactility.
As far as new feature additions go, MMI infotainment system gains navigation and reverse parking camera in top-end variant. Adding to 2015 Q3’s sporty character are the new steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
Both front seats are electrically adjustable and it’s pretty easy to achieve a comfortable seating position. Unlike in the competition, you sit higher in Q3 and that makes for great visibility ahead. Front seats offer optimum cushioning, thigh support and side bolstering.
Rear bench can seat two adults confortably but an occupant in the middle would be a squeeze, thanks to protruding AC console and drive shaft tunnel. Again, there are absolutely no issues with cushioning, seat back inclination and thigh support but taller passengers would find leg room to be in short supply.
Audi Q3’s cabin is a nice and comfortable place to be in but a noticeable cosmetic makeover to the dashboard would’ve been nice.
Engine and Gearbox
2015 Audi Q3 for India retains its lone 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine which continues to make 177 PS at 4,200 RPM and 380 NM of torque from 1,750 to 2,500 RPM. Initially, all variants will be equipped with 7-speed S-tronic automatic transmission and quattro all-wheel drive. More affordable S variant with 6-speed manual and FWD will be made available later. 0-100 kmph comes in 8.2 seconds and claimed top speed stands at 212 kmph.
We always liked the torquey nature of this oil burner and nothing has changed. Once past the nominal lag, the motor packs a grin inducing punch all the way up to red line. S-Tronic gearbox is matched really well with the engine and paddle shifters have made the whole driving experience more indulging. Gear shifts are relaxed and smooth in Comfort mode while things get snappy in Dynamic mode. Sport mode holds on to the gear up to red line before moving up a cog.
Engine noise is a bit on higher side during idling but it transforms into a sporty note under hard acceleration. Be it a short leap forward or a prolonged high speed cruising, Q3’s 2.0-litre unit always has enough power and torque on offer to keep you happy.
During our spirited drive through wet Goan roads (which warranted frequent gear changes), we managed to extract an indicated average fuel efficiency of 7.9 kmpl. Under normal driving conditions, this figure would be well over the other side of 10 kmpl mark which is good by segment standards.
Ride, Handling and Braking
There are very few SUVs that can display impressive dynamic characteristics like Q3 and it’s not an overstatement. Ride quality is comfortable on most occasions and thuds find their way into cabin only when the suspension is subjected to deep pot holes.
Fine damping results in excellent straight line stability and great composure around corners. Audi Q3 is a hoot to drive, thanks in no small measure to quattro all-wheel drive system. Even on wet undulated tarmac, grip levels are phenomenal and after a bout of intense cornering, you tend to take quattro for granted.
Body roll is contained but the car tends to understeer a wee bit when pushed hard around a really sharp bend. The electro-mechanical steering is very light in Comfort mode for easy maneuverability in urban conditions but weighs up nicely in Dynamic mode. We would have loved more feel and feedback though, especially considering Q3’s commendable on-road mannerisms.
Under panic braking tests, we found the brakes to offer an assuring bite and the vehicle always came to a quick halt in straight line, notwithstanding tricky road conditions due to heavy downpour.
Being a road focused crossover, Q3’s off-road abilities are limited to traversing badly broken roads or an unpaved trail with moderate difficulty. Anything more than that is beyond the car’s repertoire of skills.
Features and Safety
Audi Q3 facelift’s long equipment list includes LED headlamps (optional), dynamic turn signals in LED taillights, Audi Drive Select (drive modes), updated MMI system with navigation, voice dialogue system, parking sensors with reverse camera, dual zone automatic climate control, and electrically adjustable and foldable ORVMs with driver side auto anti-glare function.
In terms of safety, new Q3 offers 6 airbags, ABS, EBD, BA and an updated Electronic Stabilization Control (ESC).
Whole objective of the facelift exercise is to rope in younger customers (a demographic whose buying potential is increasing exponentially in India) and Audi seems to have succeeded.
2015 Audi Q3 is visually more pleasing than its predecessor and has got an enhanced equipment list that should appeal to tech savvy customers. A comprehensive dashboard design update would have gone a long way in further enhancing the SUV’s prospects.
Q3 has always been a very strong product in terms of powertrain and dynamics, and the company has decided to play it safe by not fiddling much with the package. It’s not a bad thing to do at all, but given the significant visual updates, we were left expecting a corresponding leap on the hardware front as well. At least, a noticeable jump in fuel efficiency would have been nice.
To sum it up, Audi Q3 facelift is a stronger version of what was already a well accomplished product.
– Sharper looks
– Additional equipment
– Paddle shifter make for more engaging driving experience
– Dashboard design not the most modern in its segment
– Improvements under the skin are nominal