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Audi Q3 Dynamic : First Drive

  • Oct 08, 2014
  • 2778 Views
[caption id="attachment_14670" align="alignnone" width="900"]Audi Q3 Dynamic Audi Q3 Dynamic[/caption]

 

The Audi Q3 has been on the market for a while now, and in that time it has gone on to become very popular in the Indian automobile market. This is largely because, as a compact luxury SUV it ticks all the right boxes in this SUV crazy nation, full of aspirational luxury vehicle buyers with rising disposable income.

I went for a spin in the new flagship ‘Dynamic’ variant of the Q3 which features adaptive suspension with Audi’s Drive Select system, to see how much of a difference there is from the standard suspension setup on the Q3.

Audi-Q3-Dynamic-grille

 

Exteriors

The Audi Q3 Dynamic is befitting of being the top model of the Q3 range with its full chrome front grille, 17 inch ‘Trias’ design alloy wheels and clear lens LED tail lamps. While these changes are subtle, they do make the Dynamic variant stand out nicely and make it appear more upmarket.

The Q3 otherwise as always has been a very good looking compact luxury SUV with a nice and sporty profile. The large grille is flanked by sleek headlamps incorporating a rather striking daytime running LED design. The bumper is well chistled and has large flared fog lamp housings on either side, the lamps themselves are rounded off in chrome. The lower section of the bumper is finished in black plastic with a very sleek sliver central air dam. The bonnet too has sleek design lines running from the headlamps to the bottom of the A-Pillars.

Audi-Q3-front-three-quarter

The side profile of the Audi Q3 has definitive character elements such as that strong shoulder like running from the headlamps to the rear, the chrome window lining and a deep kink in the lower section of the doors. The rest of the profile is subtle with sleek sliver roof rails, mildly flared wheel archs and black plastic cladding. The new alloy wheel design on this Dynamic model ofcourse looks striking.

[caption id="attachment_14699" align="alignnone" width="765"]Audi Q3 Dynamic rear Audi Q3 Dynamic rear[/caption]

The Q3’s rear profile is identical to that of the Q range of cars with a large bumper housing the reverse lights and rear fog lamps on the upper section and a faux air diffuser at the bottom of the black plastic section of the bumper. The Q3 Dynamic has twin tail pipes on the left side. Higher up, the C-Pillars give way to a wide lower section that gives the SUV a squat down sporty appearance and so does the clear design demarcation in the centre of the tailgate. Those clear lens tail lamps on either side are rather striking indeed and do a good job of differentiating it from the rest of the Q3 range.

 

Audi-Q3-Dynamic-dashboard

Interior

The Audi Q3 has a spacious cabin for a compact SUV. And every time you step inside, you realize that this is genuinely a nice place to be in. The interiors feel luxurious with the use of good quality plastics and leather associated with more expensive Audi models. Audi has also done a good job of using various materials and colour trim to lend plenty of visual breaks and lend an upmarket look. Fit and finish of all the trim panels is good too and the cabin is actually quite hard to fault for a vehicle of its type.

While the Q3 is available in different variations of trim colour, the vehicle I had featured a light brown shade for the top of the dash board and door pads, beige dashboard lower section, seats, roof, as well as pillar trim and leather inserts on the door pads. All door pads and the left top section of the dash get wood inserts to lend an upmarket touch. There are also dashes of chrome on the dashboard as well as door handles to add a contemporary touch to the cabin.

Audi-Q3-Dynamic-front-seat

Audi-Q3-Dynamic-rear-seat

The seats are large supportive units with electric adjust for the front ones, that also feature lumbar adjust. While back support can be adjusted well, the side bolsters could do with a tad more adjustability. The rear seat is a comfortable place to be in with plenty of under thigh support, leg room, shoulder room and the back rest is inclined at just the perfect angle. Seating three abreast on the rear bench is also easy, although the high center tunnel intrudes into leg space for the middle occupant.

The Audi Q3 offers 460 litres of boot space which can swallow up a couple of strollers and soft bags easily, offering good amount of space for everything from shopping trips to long distance journeys. The rear seats can be folded down to make way for 1,365 litres of space.

[caption id="attachment_14672" align="alignnone" width="900"]Audi Q3 Dynamic bootspace Audi Q3 Dynamic bootspace[/caption]

In this top spec Dynamic edition, the Q3 comes loaded with features such as tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjust, multi function steering wheel, leather upholstery, front and rear arm rests and cup holders, dual zone climate control, an Audi sound system with concert radio, CD, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, light and rain sensors, headlamp washers, rear wash wipe and defogger, sun roof, automatic headlamp range adjustment, electro chromatic rear view mirrors, heated and electrically folding ORVMs, cruise control, parking sensors, start/stop system, an energy recovery system and more.

 

Audi-Q3-Dynamic-engine

Engine and Gearbox

The Q3 Dynamic is powered by Audi’s famed 2.0 litre four cylinder turbocharged and intercooled diesel engine. In the Q3, the unit develops 176PS of peak power @ 4,200 rpm and 380Nm of max torque between 1,750 rpm and 2,500 rpm. The engine is mated to a seven-speed double clutch automatic gearbox and has an ARAI rated fuel efficiency figure of 15.73 km/l.

Twist the key in the ignition and you can instantly make out that NVH levels are well contained. And I have to say that Audi has done a great job at setting up the powertrain of the Q3 as it offers very good driveability.

[caption id="attachment_14695" align="alignnone" width="900"]Audi Q3 Dynamic  front three quarter Audi Q3 Dynamic front three quarter[/caption]

Right from the word go the Q3 feels spirited for a compact diesel luxury SUV. Acceleration is linear, thanks to the well spread torque band from low down the rev range. The gearbox makes smooth gear changes under steady acceleration and the powertrain feels refined.

Going heavier on the throttle during those sudden overtaking maneuvers ofcourse results in a certain amount of delay between the gearbox dropping a gear to deliver more power to the wheels.

Audi-Q3-Dynamic-gear-lever

Which is why when you are in the mood for spirited driving, the gear box has a ‘Sport’ mode that sharpens up throttle response and gear changes. In this mode, the powertrain is more responsive to sudden throttle inputs and power delivery is adequate for sudden overtaking maneuvers as well as enthusiastic driving. The gearbox also has a tip-tronic function that allows the driver to change gears manually, this makes you feel more connected to the vehicle, as is the case with manual transmissions. Gear changes in this mode offer good response and it makes the Q3 quite a fun to drive machine.

[caption id="attachment_14703" align="alignnone" width="900"]Audi Q3 dynamic side profile tracking Audi Q3 dynamic side profile tracking[/caption]

Acceleration is brisk with the 0-100 km/h being dealt with in 8.2 seconds and the top speed of the SUV being pegged at 212 km/h. Although, the Q3 requires a fairly long stretch to clock high speeds as the strong surge of power tends to tail off at the fast end of the speedo.

That said, I had the chance to drive the Q3 Dynamic at the Kari Motor Speedway race track in Coimbatore and I have to say that I come back fairly impressed. For a diesel luxury SUV, the Q3 always had enough grunt while exiting continuous bends and attacking the next set of them. It’s only towards the later part of the main straight that you wished for some more power.

 

Audi-Q3-Dynamic-Kari-Motor-Speedway

Ride and Handling

The Audi Q3 is underpinned by a monocoque chassis featuring McPherson struts with aluminum lower wishbones, aluminum subframe and a tubular anti-roll bar while at the back there is a four-link setup with separate spring and shock absorber layout, subframe, aluminum wheel carriers and tubular anti-roll bar.

Audi has fitted the Q3 Dynamic with adaptive suspension and a Drive Select system that offers three driving modes, namely, Comfort, Auto and Dynamic.

Audi-Q3-Dynamic-driving-mode

Audi-Q3-Dynamic-drive-mode-selector

On the road and under most circumstances, the three different driving modes can’t really be distinguished at high speeds. The Audi Q3’s ride quality is worthy of a luxury vehicle and the suspension offers a comfortable ride with an underlying firmness that gives the SUV confident road manners. The suspension irons out bad roads well and always remains composed. It was only at medium and slow speeds over rumble strips, sudden uneven terrain and sharp bumps where I could make out that the suspension is stiffer in dynamic mode.

[caption id="attachment_14671" align="alignnone" width="900"]Audi Q3 Dynamic cornering Audi Q3 Dynamic cornering[/caption]

I also have to mention that the electromechanical steering unit is responsive and offers good feedback to the driver.

On the Kari Motor Speedway, I had a chance to push the vehicle to its very limits and it is here that the difference in the driving modes became more apparent. I first tried out Dynamic mode and I have to say that it was a joy to go around the track in what is essentially a luxury SUV not designed for this sort of purpose. But the Audi Q3 armed with its brilliant quattro all-wheel drive system took to the race track very well indeed.

Audi-Q3-Dynamic-handling

The 235/55 section Pirelli Scorpion tyres offered great grip and the quattro system kept power in check making for very predictable drive dynamics. There was a hint of under steer while piling on the power out of a corner, but its nothing really to complain about as the Q3 is otherwise so well behaved while exploring the limit of grip for a tall SUV. There is ofcourse some amount of body roll, but the vehicle is very controllable at all times and the roll is acceptable for a luxury SUV. Switch to comfort mode, and while pushing the Q3 Dynamic around bends you do realize that the SUV feels more softly sprung and that there is more body roll.

Audi-Q3-Dynamic-Kari-Motor-Speedway-2

All in all, the Audi Drive Select system and the hydraulic adaptive suspension system fitted to the Q3 Dynamic does indeed alter its ride characteristics to an extent. The Audi Q3 Dynamic otherwise has very sorted drive dynamics that makes it feel like a much bigger luxury vehicle. Push it to its limits and the Q3 still remains composed and inspires confidence in the driver.

 

Audi-Q3-Dynamic-off-roading

Off-roading

I also had a go in the Q3 Dynamic on an off-road track designed by Audi to showcase the legendary off-road prowess of its quattro system. And as you can see from these images, the Q3 really is impressive off-road. It may look like a soft-roader but this thing can really take to off-road obstacles like a duck takes to water.

Audi-Q3-Dynamic-rear-off-roading

Suspension travel is really impressive and the short overhangs also help in clearing obstacles easily. The quattro all-wheel-drive system transfers the right amount of power to each wheel under varying traction circumstances and cuts power to wheels that are in the air. The electronic differential lock also aids in transferring the correct amount of power to the wheels in order to give the Q3 optimum traction.

The Q3 was unfazed by the challenging off-road track and in fact made it quite fun to go around, only wishing for more.

 

[caption id="attachment_14702" align="alignnone" width="900"]Audi Q3 Dynamic side profile Audi Q3 Dynamic side profile[/caption]

Safety

The Audi Q3 has a five-star EuroNCAP safety rating with a 94 per cent rating for adults, 86 per cent for children, 52 per cent for pedestrian protection and 86 per cent for safety assist systems. Aside from impact beams and crumple zones, safety features aboard the Audi Q3 Dynamic include anti-lock brakes, traction control, electronic stability control, wheel-selective torque distribution, electronic differential lock, hill start assist, as well as front and side airbags.

 

[caption id="attachment_14697" align="alignnone" width="900"]Audi Q3 Dynamic kari Motor Speedway Audi Q3 Dynamic kari Motor Speedway[/caption]

Verdict

The Audi Q3 has always been a popular and strong contender in the compact luxury SUV segment with its sporty profile, upmarket interiors and luxurious appeal. The Dynamic variant adds to the already lengthy equipment list of the car with adaptive suspension and cosmetic enhancements that set it apart from other variants. It also has to be said that the adaptive suspension is well suited to our varying road conditions.

With an additional Rs. 1.6 lakh added to the price tag of the Premium Plus variant, the Q3 Dynamic is priced at Rs. 38.40 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). The Q3 is a successful product and the new top-spec Dynamic model should find a good number of takers as well.

 

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