A compact SUV is a miniature version of a larger product of the same brand. Since the luxury item in question often has a complex exterior style, it is sometimes difficult to adapt the same stroke of a pencil to a much smaller vehicle. It is without a shadow of a doubt; the Audi Q3 2019 bears the aesthetic signature of the Q8.
However, we are forced to see that the Q3 has mastered this signature outdoor car covers. He is bigger than his predecessor on every level, and his new size has given him more space in the cockpit. The redesign comes at the right time; he has to face the popular X1 BMW, but also the all-new Volvo XC40 and Cadillac XT4 – among other rivals. Q3 plays a vital role in the Audi family, partly because it embodies the gateway to the manufacturer’s SUV lineup, but also because it aims to attract new customers within the brand.
LuxuryCarMagazine.com has been invited to northern Italy to test the second generation of the Audi Q3, an SUV whose first generation has been sold in more than one million copies around the world . Testing an entry-level luxury SUV like Q3 in such a dynamic environment can be dichotomous. On the one hand, the pilot in himself saliva at the idea of attacking at a brisk pace the curves and perilous bends of mountainside passes, but on the other hand, the posed journalist thinks of the average buyer, wondering why such an environment is necessary to try this type of vehicle.
A choice of engines
It is not a choice of engines as such, but rather a choice of calibration, and this is a first welcome improvement over the outgoing generation. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder TFSI lower-end version develops 184 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque, while the top models are powered by a version that develops 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque.
Only these higher variants were available for testing in Italy, and to our surprise the larger engine proved to be particularly athletic in the alpine environment.
The Q3 45 TFSI Quattro showed us that it had plenty of heart in the belly, to climb steep slopes and to engage at high speed in the motorway ramps of the perilous Italian motorway network, with a linear delivery of power thanks to TFSI technology as well as the seven-speed S tronic gearbox (an 8-speed gearbox will be offered in North America), which in turn delivers power to all four wheels.
Driven driving, with more cargo space
Like the majority of Audi, the Q3 categorically refuses to roll at corners. Braking is also unparalleled; a moment of distraction forced us to apply the brakes suddenly, and the Q3 performed the task brilliantly. On the other hand, we found the direction somewhat fuzzy, even when the driving mode selector is in the Dynamic position – which has slightly interfered with our cornering fervor. Note that Dynamic Suspension is available as an option on the Q3.
Inside, the designers were able to design a cabin with simple, inexpensive materials, while maintaining a high-end look. For example, Alcantra inserts in the dashboard create a superb contrast. The new screen is huge, and the infotainment system is fast and easy to use. Wireless charging and the Bang & Olufsen stereo have been added to the list of available equipment.
Small flat, the instrument block diffuses a lot of information in a small space, and locating the desired information turned out to be complex when we drove. A common problem that can probably fade after a few weeks behind the wheel of Q3.
Thanks to its new dimensions, the Q3 offers more cargo space, with 530 liters behind the tailgate in normal configuration, and up to 1525 liters when the seats are lowered.
But what about driving in the city?
After taking full advantage of the zip lines, we found ourselves stuck in a rush hour city. The situation was unexpected and somewhat restrictive, and the navigation system was trying to get us out of the narrow stone streets, strewn with terraces where families took the meal peacefully, staring at us incredulously.
Moreover, if you have already driven in Italy, you know that the signs are as valuable as the passionate gestures performed by the inhabitants of a village when you drive a few inches from their table.
This impromptu little adventure led us to test the Q3’s various instruments and driver assistance systems, such as parking assistance and rear cross-traffic alert in addition to the 360-degree camera, which certainly spared us the damages and altercations.
In the end, to test the Audi Q3 in the Ziplines has made sense. We went out with two completely different experiences. Primo; having to negotiate small streets, manage busy roundabouts and pay attention to speeders are situations that have put Q3 and its systems on the test bed in urban design.
Second, we were able to test the Q3 in the dangerous turns of the mountains at full speed, and we learned that driving this small SUV is similar in many situations to that of a sports hatchback.
The result is a small SUV with the “mordant” in the Audi, which perfectly controls driving in the city. And if his price remains affordable – a price we’ll know soon – he’ll probably keep his job as a popular SUV in his segment.