Our friends at sgCarMart let us in on the small marvel that is the Audi Q3.
Big used to matter and big meant economies of scale but it doesn’t seem that way anymore. More people are turning towards compact SUVs as a more practical alternative to the behemoths of the past – and automakers are responding.
It’s hard to ignore the rising demand for these vehicles. Driving just a few blocks down along any of our roads reveals the popularity of compact SUVs such as the Audi Q3.
More recently, the Ingolstadt carmaker hopped on the downsizing bandwagon and introduced a smaller 1.4-litre TFSI variant to its baby SUV, giving Audi a stronger point of difference in the increasingly crowded compact SUV segment.
The Q3’s conservative looks hide a classy, well-built interior within
Up close and Personal
What is amazing about the Audi Q3 is that it manages to pull off a clever trick – it looks huge but is actually fairly compact.
Measuring 4,385mm x 1,831mm x 1,590mm (L x W x H), the Q3 is only 75mm longer, 46mm wider and 165mm taller than an A3 Sportback, which makes it a cinch to park and pilot given our tight city landscape.
The raised height of the car makes getting in and out easy and reduces strain when loading in heavy shopping bags into the well-sized 460-litre boot that can be extended to 1,365 litres with the back seats folded.
Moving further inside, there is no argument about the cabin’s build quality but its design is starting to show its age – a stark contrast to Audi’s recent models.
Nonetheless, occupants, especially a short driver like this writer, will have no qualms settling in comfortably with the soft seats and a high-set driving position that offers a good view of the road.
The 1.4-litre turbocharged lump that appeared only in the A1 supermini and the A3 Sedan and Sportback has now been migrated to Audi’s SUV range.
On paper, a 1.4-litre engine may sound puny to haul the Q3 about, but in reality it feels stronger than its capacity would suggest.
The powerplant packs a pretty decent punch and Audi’s six-speed S-tronic dual-clutch gearbox is a good partner, slicking through gears briskly and easily.
150bhp and 250Nm of torque is offered by this 1.4-litre lump
This great combination helps to deliver good acceleration, allowing the car to overtake assertively at higher speeds and ripping away from standstill. For a slightly enhanced driving experience, the standard drive select system allows drivers to adjust the steering weight and throttle response.
Besides the nifty performance, fuel economy was impressive too. While we couldn’t match Audi’s claimed figure of 16.1km/L, we did manage to achieve a respectable 11.9km/L overall.
Unlike its bigger 2.0-litre sibling, quattro all-wheel drive isn’t available, but the front-wheel drive Q3 feels agile and composed just like a sedan or a hatchback, thanks to its strong grip and decent body control.
Better still, the combination of a compact size, excellent visibility and well-weighted controls helps inspire confidence when threading the Q3 down the twisties or crowded city streets.
17-inch wheels provide a pliant ride for everyone on board
The Audi Q3 isn’t perfect, but with impressive versatility, power, economy, features, fit and finish, comfort and quality, it goes to show that small is the new big and bigger isn’t always better.
More importantly, its sharp price ($177,700 as of 19 December 2014) and good equipment levels will undoubtedly make it a popular addition to the brand’s SUV ranks.
Text by Regan Ong, Photos by Low Fai Ming, sgCarMart, 5 Jan 2015
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