New Audi Q3 35 TDI Quattro is fun to drive

The popular Audi Q3 sports utility vehicle or SUV is quite an important car in the German carmaker's Indian portfolio to woo young and successful professionals as well as business entrepreneurs.

Undoubtedly, the baby SUV has received tremendous success in Asia’s third biggest car market. Despite being a 5-year-old SUV, updates of the vehicle have kept the Audi Q3 relevant and appealing.

The Audi Q3 SUV has received a facelift and the refreshed line-up also gets a new diesel motor.

The blue Audi Q3 is the range-topping 35 TDI Quattro technology with a price tag of Rs 41.54 lakh on-road in Mumbai. It is powered by a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-diesel engine but power is up four per cent, taking the final figure to a stronger 184 hp.

The engine comes mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Also, importantly, this is the only version of the Q3 that gets Quattro all-wheel drive. What distinguishes the latest 2017 Q3 SUV is the redesigned front bumper that gets larger faux air inlets and a more generous dose of plastic cladding. There are also new streaks on the plastic door runners and 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamps and LED tail-lamps with dynamic indicators. Thus, undoubtedly, the Q3 is a handsome small SUV, even if it us less flashy than its rival Mercedes-Benz’s GLA.

The car offers four drive modes, including an Auto mode that alters engine, gearbox and steering characteristics. Efficiency drive mode is quite good for the rush-hour slog in the city lanes, while Comfort drive mode is quite comfortable for easy going and the Dynamic drive mode indeed brings out the sportier side of the engine.

Interestingly, driving the Audi 35 TDI on the highway you can feel that it makes four per cent more power although you cannot tell the difference from behind the wheel. The engine is punchy as ever and remains a relatively quick-revving unit. Undoubtedly, the engine gives its best in its Dynamic drive mode, but Comfort and even Auto do work well enough to enjoy the drive to the full.

That said the Audi Q3’s 2.0-litre diesel engine is not the quietest of the diesel engines around. You do experience a bit of drone in the mid-range and the engine also tends to get a bit buzzy to some extent in the top end. But the TDI unit compares well with the BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA’s diesels.

Driving Audi Q3 on the highways and through the ghat sections and bends and slopes, the vehicle deals quite well with the bumps at low speeds and gives overall a good ride.

Significantly, the Quattro all-wheel drive indeed adds in a degree of grip and off-road ability but few owners would put their beauty through slushy muddy roads and muck.

Should I buy it?

Some would argue that the price the Audi Q3 commands, one could buy a more hardcore SUV. However, if one is looking for a stylish and small luxury SUV, the Audi Q3 fits the bill.  It looks gorgeous, smart, and feels premium and above all, performs well. But it is tough indeed to take a quick decision when the BMW X1 and the Mercedes-Benz GLA is around for a choice though the Q3 offers a well-rounded package to lure buyers.

Michael Gonsalves