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Driven: Audi Q3

Audi South Africa sent me the second-generation Q3 to drive for a week. It was like I fit right into my suburb, because we’re near an Audi dealership and most people in my area drive one.

Every time I receive an SUV on test, it gets comfortable really quickly. I’ve driven plenty of large vehicles so I have no issue re-adjusting or parking, but it gets increasingly difficult to return. Then I have to readjust to driving my own low profile car, and be on the lookout for speed bumps; first world problems, I know. This compact crossover slash small SUV was no different.

I’m fairly new to driving Audi vehicles, so there are things I’m still learning. What I didn’t realise was how popular they are on the roads. When I drove the Q8, it received a lot of attention because it was a brand new model, but so did the Q3. I know South Africans know their cars, but they were turning around in traffic to get a look of the Q3. I had a silver car on test, so not exactly flashy but it definitely got attention, even from JMPD once again.

DESIGN

Speaking of looks, it’s a very good looking car. I love the clean lines and indents. You can definitely tell it apart from the 2015 model; on the front the headlights are bigger and drop down in the corners, the grille is different; it’s all very angular and actually similar to the Q8. The LED headlights are standard, and can be upgraded to Matrix LEDs that illuminate the road when you’re driving, as an optional extra. 

The Q3 comes in a standard kit, with two additional trim lines: Advanced and S Line with its own exterior options like larger rims or characteristic bumper elements.

ENGINE

The Q3 is available in only one variant, a 1.4L turbo 6-speed S-tronic automatic with front wheel drive. It has a total output of 110kW and 250Nm of torque. I still don’t fully understand the naming conventions of Audi badges, but it’s the 35 TFSI model. It doesn’t have the same kick as my own car (141kW) when taking off or when over-taking, so this was an initial adjustment for me as I love taking off quickly when the traffic lights go green. It is capable of going from 0-100km/h in 8.9 seconds and a top speed of 204km/h.

Aside from that little extra power that I’ve become accustomed to, the drive is smooth and refined. It wasn’t uncomfortable going over speed bumps in my suburb on the daily. Back to my point earlier, I got way too comfortable in it and didn’t want to give it back. The fuel tank is 64L and -cough- as you all know, I don’t drive economically so wow, burned through a lot of fuel as I went about my days.

INTERIOR FRONT

Inside my test car was orange accents, which isn’t a colour I’d personally go for but it didn’t bother me. It had the lighting package equipped with a choice 30 colours; I’m a fan of inside lights, it adds an extra layer of fanciness. I love the modern sleek look of the 8.8 infotainment system on the dashboard that looks like an extended touchscreen. It’s just that the AC dials at the bottom didn’t make it look as ultra-modern. There was plenty of room for my bottled waters, cards, coins and extra keys.

The steering wheel was comfortable, and I used the multimedia controls on it a lot, as well as change the info being displayed on the 12.3-inch virtual cockpit. I love toggling between different views and seeing various bits of information.

INFOTAINMENT SYSTEM

The Q3, just like the Q8, features Audi’s modern MMI 8.8-inch infotainment system. Having tested many systems in the past, this is one of the quickest systems that paired with my phone. Honestly, it was such a pleasure to use. When I get a new car and fire up my navigation, I expect it to just work as I drive off, which it did on the Q3 (have struggled with other brands).

I used a cable for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as I have two handsets. I prefer Google Maps on Android Auto though, because it’s just better, naturally, as a Google product. That said, the car’s internal navigation was difficult to use – but this is the case with all cars I’ve found. They’re never going to be as slick and updated as Google Maps will always be.

The car has a standard USB-A port, a USB-C port (though not sure why because all phone cables need that input for the phone itself, and not the other way around) and featured wireless charging. The wireless charging helped me several times on my iPhone, but alas the size of it was not suited for my Huawei, which was rather large, especially when plugged with a cable so it sort of stuck out at the bottom. I was not fond of the positioning of the physical volume key at the bottom, so I used the steering wheel controls.

INTERIOR BACK

The back holds three individuals, but I’d say more of a smaller person in the centre with two adults on either side at best. There’s plenty of legroom and little nooks to store stuff in front of you and on the sides, like a power bank next to the seat by the door, in addition to actual door storage space. The centre seat transforms into a console that folds down to provide cup holders and extra elbow or arm rests. It’s quite comfortable at the back if two adults are sitting in on a road trip.

BOOT SPACE

I don’t know if it’s an age thing but a lot of my friends now agree that boot space is important when buying a car. The Q3 has ample boot space, between 530 to 675L depending on the seat configuration, which you can slide back or forward, and fold down.

If you’re big on travelling, there’s plenty of room for bags and space to hold other things like if you have kids doing extra murals and need to lug stuff back and forth. When I tested it, it was quite roomy for my groceries. 

OVERALL THOUGHTS

This compact crossover appeals if you want something capable of going on urban roads and getting out of the city. More so if you have a hobby that requires carrying bicycles around, or filling up the boot by folding the seats down. It’s a great car to go on a road trip that seats four adults comfortably, while feeling like you’re in business class at the back. 

I haven’t mentioned before, but it is also quiet inside, sort of like a noise cancelling feature. That said, Audi is a premium brand and appeals to those who want more than just a compact crossover to go from A to B. It has luxury finishes, modern technologies and is just a comfortable car to drive. Pity about it only having one engine option.

There are various packages that you can take out for extras, like comfort, technology, sport, parking, S Line, black styling. I recommend getting the technology as minimum.

PRICING

The Q3 I drove in standard costs R585 000 but fitted with R188 450 worth of extras like comfort package, panoramic sunroof, sports package, technology package and trailer hitch, bringing the total to R773 450.

Audi Q3 35 TFSI S tronic – R 565 000
Audi Q3 35 TFSI S tronic Advanced – R 585 000 
Audi Q3 35 TFSI S tronic S line – R 599 000

All vehicles come with a 5 year/100 000km warranty.

 

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