Audi Q-ship is deceptive
The Q3 is Audi's latest and smallest Q-series car, and it could be its biggest competitor is just across the showroom, in the form of the Q5, the next-size-up model.
OK, so the Q5 is a little larger and can be opted with a V6 turbodiesel, but in moving traffic only a true Audiphile could tell the difference. Also, having driven the Q3 with the only powertrain you can get it with - a 130kW/380Nm 2.0 turbodiesel four with quattro all- wheel-drive - I can't see how anyone could need any more performance.
In fact, the test car was so brisk I had to read the sticker on the screen just to confirm it really was a 2.0-litre engine. Powering through the standard seven-speed S-Tronic twin-clutch automatic, I managed a sub eight-second zero to 100kmh time without even trying, and I even had to check back with Audi to see if my information had the price right at $70,900.
This was because the car asks $5000 less than a 2.0-litre diesel A4 station wagon, and that comes with just front-drive and 25 fewer kilowatts, and 60 fewer Newton metres. Which got me thinking. The notes on my test of the Q5 said it was "more than adequate" as a 2.0-litre turbo diesel four, and quite quick as a 3.0-litre diesel V6. So what made the Q3 such a hot shot. After all, it's only 109 kilograms lighter than the larger Q5, which is the equivalent of just a single, heavy, albeit solid passenger.
Scratch a little deeper and you'll find the Q3's engine is also more powerful than the same unit fitted to the Q5, and get this, the slightly smaller SUV is even $17,000 cheaper to buy. Yes, seventeen grand.
True, you get cloth seating and 17 inch alloy rims instead of big shiny low profile items, but you don't get that much more in the Q5.
This car is not a stripped-out range-starter. You get automatic stop/start technology as standard, a range of interior fabrics and trim including a so-called 3D brushed aluminium web feature. As well, there's also an optional LED interior lighting package, that can be ordered to bathe the inside of the vehicle in "dramatic" light at night via diodes in the doors, headlining, footwells, vanity mirrors, storage compartments, audio speakers, and even the air vent thumb wheels and cup holders.
That's probably more than I need, feeling that its standard interior ambience is more than satisfactory, with a top-notch "Concert" audio set-up, with all the hard-drive storage and connectivity you expect; air con, cruise control, a leather steering- wheel rim and of course the full suite of electronic driver aids.
I might add leather/Alcantara for another $4200 or one of the other extra-cost trim options. Buyers could load the Q3 with all manner of options, but that would pull it out of what is almost a bargain at $70,900, to close to six figures if you go a bit mad.
The S-Line package, which adds lower profile rims, stiffer suspension sports seats in a cloth/ leather combination and shift paddles on the steering wheel asks $77,990 - still good value. Especially when you look at the $80,000 starting price for the Range Rover Evoque, arguably the Q3's closest competitor - outside its own showroom. The BMW X1 and X3 models, which will also be on the Q3 punter's checklist, ask respectively $2800 and $18,800 more than the Audi if you match specifications with diesel power, automatic and all-wheel drive.
By next year, the Q3 will have an even lower starting price, with the introduction of lower-powered versions of the diesel engine and two-wheel-drive.
As it stands, the Q3 is remarkable value, with not that much less passenger space than the Q5 and it has a seats up, seats down load volume of 460 litres and 1365 litres respectively.
Such heavily disguised potential was known as a Q-ship not so long ago. Now, Q3 will do nicely, thanks.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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