Young, affluent and brand conscious prospects are what Audi is aiming to pocket with new, 2015 version of Q3. Company has cunningly propagated the idea of “Start Young” as it drives home the case of elevated sense of luxury facelift Q3 comes with. In India, Q3 has always been at the forefront, and in fact acted as one of the main drivers of Audi’s growth in a rapidly expanding luxury market. Over the years, many rivals came and went though none of the opponent could able to replace Q3 from leadership position. One of the reasons behind this unrivalled position is regular updates that Q3 received at regular intervals. Now, the latest one has appeared in form of 2015 Q3 that is aimed to further augment appeal of this SUV amongst spiralling competition. New Q3 comes with a host of design makeovers, both outside and inside, though mechanical hardware has been carried forward without any alteration. There is same combo of engine-tranny as appeared on outgoing model though equipment addition in form of paddle shifters, reverse camera; Audi’s drive select etc. has made their way into new version. So how all this has changed the India’s best-selling premium SUV? Does the equipment addition is good enough to fend off the rivals? We took this do-all SUV for a quick spin to get the answers to all these and more.
What changes cosmetically?
New 2015 Audi Q3 features a host of outside and inside changes though all these alterations especially on the outside are not very perceptible. Still Audi must be commended for putting in effort to upgrade already dynamic look of Q3. Changes on the front include a new single-frame hexagonal front grille outlined in chrome. Headlamps flank the nose with their angular turn-out and connect to grille via shapely inserted chrome chips. We must say that compared to past Audis', this new design language is more distinctive. Front fog lights have now been replaced by faux C-shaped air vents that add more dynamism to frontage of the car. Chrome garnished at the bottom is another design highlight of Q3.
In profile, 17 " alloy wheels have got the different design language. Cladding and other panels have been carried over as new silhouette feels similar to outgoing model. At the rear, major alteration manifest in design of tail lamps which have been thoroughly redesigned. Blinkers integrated within the assembly now lights up in a completely different pattern to make the things more attractive than before.
Changes on the inside are also of note as Audi has given the option of choosing the inner color scheme to the customers. One can opt between all black and black-beige cabin depending upon individual choice and taste. Ornamental inlays have got revision though overall layout remained the same. Aluminum inserts have replaced the wooden panels on the dash and door panels of previous generation Q3. Top of the line technology variant of Q3 is fully loaded with all the bells and whistles including satellite navigation system, music system with 20 GB of on board storage, Audi sound system, reverse camera with assist, panoramic sun roof, electrically operated ORVMs, powered front seats etc.
Engine-Tranny & Dynamics
For the most part, Audi Q3 features similar power train and mechanical underpinnings that have been carried over to new version. This implies same 2.0-litre TDI diesel motor is still responsible for making force in Q3. Peak power and torque of 177 PS and 380 Nm is channelized to wheels via 7-speed S-tronic transmission. Engine is rev-happy and performance is more than adequate. Q3 rushes forward with a great sense of urgency, and remained in power band up to 5000 rpm. The engine doesn't sound gruff for most of the part though towards the top end becomes a tad louder. Still we loved the growling voice emanating from under the hood.
Though the Audi hasn't made any changes to engine-tranny combination, it does add the paddle shifter to steering wheel. There are S and D mode for the sportier and daily driving on S-tronic transmission. Audi's drive select is another feature addition to car's equipment list. One has three different options of comfort, dynamic and auto modes. In comfort setting suspension becomes soft and steering gets light to aid the driving style. Dynamic, on the other hand, will stiffen the chassis of the SUV to make it more enjoyable around the corners. Third mode i.e. auto allows the machine to automatically select the settings as per the driving style and road condition.
With a price tag ranging from Rs 29 - 37.5 lakh (ex - showroom, Delhi), new Audi Q3 undercuts the rivals by substantial price margin. Q3 may not be the as stunning to behold as some of its rivals are, nor is it offer the most dynamic performance in segment, still no one can match the Q3 on overall utility and value this SUV has on offers. Audi has enjoyed leadership with Q3 for a long time now and this testify responsive chord that Q3 has struck with Indian masses. More than anything, Q3 enjoys hug fan-following and cult like status in Indian market that makes the task of rivals a bit difficult. No wonder, the newest avatar of Q3 continues to tread the same path its predecessor had charted on successfully.
Style & Substance 4/5 Ride & Handling 4/5
Interiors & Ergonomics: 3.5/5 Safety & Equipment 4/5
Power-Plant & Transmission 3.5/5 Fuel Efficiency 3/5
Value for Money 3/5