This week we joined Audi South Africa in one of the most scenic parts of South Africa to experience its second-generation Q3. Through some beautiful landscapes surrounding various mountain passes and adventurous roads between George and Plettenberg Bay we put the new Q3 through its paces while enjoying some of its in-cabin creature comforts and practicality.
Striking and sporty
On the outside the new Q3 has a sportier edge to it, with its aggressively-designed front bumper that now showcases the familiar eight vertical bars radiator grille we’ve seen on its big brother, the Q8. The LED headlights (which are now standard on the Q3) are sleeker and narrower, but customers have the option to take things to the next level with Audi’s clever Matrix LED headlights, which are really something to behold – they illuminate the road through highly sophisticated adaptive high beam technology.
During a business presentation, Audi South Africa was careful not to say that the new Q3 is more ‘masculine-looking’ – perhaps it might put some female customers off. That being said, it does have a more athletic and ‘muscular’ look about it with its deeply sculpted shoulder lines over the wheel arches and well chiselled stature – and we like that it gives off a sense of confidence and appeal in the way of assertiveness when you see one whiz past on the road.
Striking new colour options, such as the Q3’s signature Turbo Blue are super trendy and complement the car’s enhanced and edgy look.
Contemporary, family-friendly interior
The Q3’s interior continues the same sense of sportiness, along with its premium and trendy cabin that makes use of high quality materials and finishes. When entering the cabin, you immediately notice that the Q3 pays special attention to the driver – and the first thing that gives this away is the positioning of the centre touchscreen which is angled towards the driver.
Audi says that it has developed a new concept for the colours and materials and customers have the option of two variants over and above the standard version – the sports package and the S line sports interior package. Both packages include the sport seats, which are trimmed optionally with a combination of leather/artificial leather and Alcantara. The Alcantara surfaces on the instrument panel and on the door armrests are an entirely new option. They are available in two colours, including steel grey or a bold orange.
You notice an increase in space and practicality particularly when you’re seated in the back, and when you need to make use of the Q3’s loading capacity. At the launch I spent a brief period of time seated at the back and for a smaller SUV, there is loads of room to make use of – I think three kids in the back will be more than happy on long road trips without any meltdowns over who sits where. Boot space is impressive. Depending on the position of the rear seats and backrests, the luggage compartment capacity totals 530 or 675 litres. With the backrests folded down the figure rises to 1,525 litres. The loading floor can be adjusted in up to three levels; the low loading sill of 748 millimetres makes it easier to stow heavy luggage. If the parcel shelf is not needed, it can be stowed under the loading floor. For extra comfort on long journeys, Audi offers the storage and luggage compartment package as an option or part of the comfort package. Besides nets on the backs of the front seats and a storage compartment under the front passenger seat, it includes a luggage compartment net as well as LED spotlights in the tailgate to provide illumination whatever the vehicle is carrying.
Connectivity and entertainment
In terms of tech and connectivity, new Q3 customers get Audi’s all-new infotainment system that comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. The infotainment system (which we’ve seen previously on the new Q8) is a sophisticated and intuitive system that offers a high-quality screen resolution to complement the Q3’s modern and chic cabin. There’s also Bluetooth and various USB points to connect to as well.
If you’re the type of family that enjoys a good sound system to complement your favourite road trip playlist, Audi’s optional Bang & Olufsen sound system is going to kickstart your holiday excitement levels by x1000! The sound system uses 15 loudspeakers altogether and produces a total output of 680 watts and makes your favourite band sound like they’re playing live from the comfort of your Q3.
Driving and performance
For now customers have Audi’s 1.4 turbocharged petrol engine with front wheel drive available for the new Q3 and its power output delivers 110 kW and 250 Nm of torque from a four-cylinder direct injection unit, mated to a six-speed S tronic gearbox. On the open road we were impressed by the level of refinement the engine had to offer, and enjoyed the fuss-free responsiveness of its gearbox. Overtaking slow-moving trucks took little to no planning, however there was some slight road noise when travelling on coarser road surfaces. Audi gave us a comprehensive gravel route experience and despite the absence of power to the rear wheels, the Q3 handled some pretty intense terrain like a champ – it was quite enjoyable too, even over a fairly long distance of it.
Most enjoyable, for me, is the Q3’s steering. It’s light, responsive and doesn’t overcomplicate things, especially when driving through tight and twisty mountain passes – I could only describe it as ‘normal’ – the way sporty steering should be. Fun but effortless. It’s also nice to hold and touch and I do love a flat-bottomed steering-wheel that gives even more handling power.
In conclusion the new Q3 has a lot to offer in terms of its striking and contemporary design, and its chic and lively cabin with all its innovative tech. Modern families who enjoy their regular escapes from the city should certainly book a test drive. While some may want more in terms of engine variety and performance choice, (and you could hang on and see if Audi has plans to add more to the local mix,) we recommend giving the available 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol unit a solid test drive – it might surprise you.
The Audi Q3 range is priced as follows, along with the standard Audi Freeway plan (5 year / 100 000 km) and inclusive of all taxes:
- Audi Q3 35 TFSI S tronic at R 565,000
- Audi Q3 35 TFSI S tronic Advanced at R 585,000
- Audi Q3 35 TFSI S tronic S line at R 599,000