by- Nitin Sharma
What will you buy if you’ve got 30-35 lacs to spend and drive home a SUV. Now the obvious name that comes to all of our minds is Toyota Fortuner, some also will be thinking of Ford Endeavour. Now what if one is no looking for a big, bulky humongous full size SUV but rather a more sophisticated German alternative. Now for this there always have been quite a battle between the three renowned models from rather three more renowned manufacturers. The Audi Q3, BMW X1 and the Mercedes Benz GLA. Well among the three of these Audi Q3 is the one which is sold in the largest number. Today we are here to find out why this baby Audi is the bestselling option.
Well to start from, the Q3 looks quite tiny. If we talk about proportions Q3 is the smallest in length but also widest among the trio. Though the differences are of some centimeters only but in automotive world this is acres. This updated version of Q3 was launched in 2017 and is more of an evolutionary design over its predecessor. Now this was a much needed update considering the BMW had also updated the X1 and to be in the competition Audi needed to update the Q3 too. Now what you see is what you get, the Q3 is simply the baby of the Audi’s SUV lineup and this can be seen in the way it looks. It has many things reminiscent to the big brute, the Q7. For example it now has the somewhat hexagonal shaped new front grill finished in polished aluminum which can also be seen in the latest generation Q7. The all new LED headlamps also looks like the scaled down version of that in the Q7. But that’s all where the similarities between the two ends. Because the Q3 looks more like a cross hatch than a SUV. Now don’t get me wrong, it is reasonably long and wide but still misses that intimidating presence of an SUV. The bulging wheel arches houses 17 inch rims. The design of alloys is also quite attractive especially in that dual tone gunmetal grey and silver finish, though if these were 18 inchers they could have been more attractive. But considering our road conditions, guess these are the best we can have. To the back we have that familiar triangular shaped tail lights like the previous generation but the design is now different. Overall the Q3 looks tightly packed and perfect for the city.
Inside it’s an all new story. It may seem compact from outside but inside, it’s not humongous but reasonably spacious. This is where one will really appreciate the build quality of Audi. The finish level is just top notch with the leather dash and decent use of brushed aluminum parts surrounding the AC vents and also the central console and around the gear knob. What is also a nice touch that the whole dash is somewhat tilted towards the driver so that it is easier to operate things. The 4 spoke steering wheel also looks good and feels great to hold but feels a bit big. The front seats get electric adjustments for the height, slide and back support too along with lumbar support for the driver. The seats itself are very well contoured and holds you very well. The back seat space isn’t something one will find great. It’s not that you will feel claustrophobic here. The space is generous and you’ll not feel cramped, but considering what the completion is offering, it’s quite less. What is not less is the number of features or bells and whistles the baby Audi comes loaded with. You get panoramic sunroof, a multimedia display having Audi’s own multimedia interface, all LED headlamps and Tail lamps, Dual zone climate control, keyless entry, paddle shifters for the top trim and many more.
This baby Audi is powered by two engines option. One is a 1.4l petrol mill producing 148 Bhp power and 250Nm of peak torque at somewhat around 1500 rpm which comes mated to a conventional 6 speed automatic transmission and feds power to the front wheel. What we are driving today is the 2.0l diesel engine producing a healthy 184 Bhp power and 380 Nm of torque at nearly 1750rpm. Now this motor is mated with the Audi’s 7 speed S-tronic gearbox. This is also a Quattro which means that the power of engine is sent to all the 4-wheels. This is not a proper 4×4 hardware but rather an all-wheel drive system. This car is not meant for serious off-roading. It’s just for if you get stuck in some tricky situations, the car has your back and helps you get out by proving traction to all the 4 wheels. There is also a 30 TDI trim which gets the same 2.0l diesel motor but on a lower state of tuning producing a mere 150 Bhp power and 340 Nm torque.
One more thing you’ll notice while starting the engine is, you don’t get a Start/Stop button. I mean come on Audi, if I am spending this much amount on a car and that too from a German brand, I expect to get these small features. The steering wheel is light and can be literally operated with a finger and this is very good for the crawling city traffic, but something which is not that good is it remains to be light even at highway speeds. You make a sudden jerk, even the slightest of movement and the car goes from one corner to the other of the road. I wish there was a bit more weight to the steering when the speed gets up.
The engine feels like more than adequate for this rather small car. You slam the foot down and the power comes instantly. There is a bit of turbo lag and one can feel it sometimes but what is rather beautiful is the way the gearbox manages it. It somehow manages to keep you in the mid of power band all the time so you don’t run out of steam. What is even good is it senses when you are in urgency or need the power. For example if you are just cruising with mild throttle inputs, it will shift gear eagerly one you hit somewhat 2000 Rpm. But if you slam your foot hard down it will pull the gear to its red line and then up shift which is just phenomenal. Though what is a problem is that this gearbox isn’t very much happy to shift down. There is a bit of lag while downshifting, it waits and then holds a gear.
Being a German car, the common notion was the suspension would be stiff for our conditions. But thanks to the smaller rims and tweaked suspension, it is quite comfortable. Though still if you go over really bad section of roads, you’ll get a thud. But this firmness makes it quite stable and composed when driving fast. This car can be enjoyed on curvy mountainous roads but the only setback is the steering is just way too light for that which robs the feel. Overall for the city conditions, where most of the buyers will be driving it mostly, this is rather very good car. This is a car which is set to drive, not to be driven in.
The Q3 starts from 34.75 lacs ex showroom Delhi for the base petrol variant and goes all the way up to nearly 43 lacs for the top end Technology trim. At this price point, the Q3 is slightly cheaper than the X1 but quite a premium option over the Mercedes Benz GLA. To answer our question that why is it the best seller among the trio, we feel that this is partially because in recent times Audi as a brand has emerged out to be the most trusted one in the country. Secondly the Q3 hits the exact sweet spot where you get the perfect balance of comfort and sportiness and you are getting more of a car for what you are paying. And the third big reason we feel which is very crucial is that from time to time Audi throws extensive discounts on their cars, and with the possibility that the manufacturer is going to launch a new updated model of the car in 2019. That can also be a reason why the Q3 is selling in good numbers.