Motoring / Motoring News
Jaco Van Der Merwe
Car manufacturers love to wax lyrical when introducing new models. “New and improved”, “better than before” and “the most technologically advanced ever” regularly feature in the description of new models.
In all fairness, why would anyone bring out an upgraded model that’s not better than its predecessor? Who would buy a product of which the pay-off line is: “not all that advanced”, “outdated design” or even “completely technologically hampered”? Yet quite ironically, sometimes a model’s rather insignificant mid-life update has the spin doctors concocting pages and pages of incoherent paragraphs. Not so with the new Audi Q3.
The premium brand has “now with bigger dimensions and more comfort” on the box and that’s what you’ll find once you’ve opened it. The model Audi recently delivered to our office contained a Q3 35 TFSI Advanced S tronic. “In the second generation it appears not only visually more self-confident, but offers far greater utility value, thanks to abundant space, comprehensive adaptability and many practical details,’’ Audi continues their introduction of the new Q3.
After spending a week in our test unit, we have every reason to agree with them. Up front, the Q3 looks more aggressive, featuring the Singleframe grille, divided by eight vertical bars in octagon design, and large side air inlets. As always with Audi, the LED headlights are one of those things you can upgrade to Matrix LED with adaptive high-beam technology as an optional extra.
To add more drama to the look, our Q3 featured 19-inch, 20-spoke alloy wheels as part of the optional sports package. The new Q3 is 96 mm longer than its predecessor, making it 4 484 mm in total, while the width has gone up 18 mm to 1 849 mm. The wheelbase has been stretched by 77 mm to a total of 2 680 mm, which all relates to a more spacious cabin, featuring more knee, elbow and headroom.
The rear seats can be moved by as much as 150 mm. This arrangement allows the boot space to grow from 530 to 675 litres, while there is 1 526 litres on offer with the second row folded down. Inside, the major upgrade from the previous generation comes in the form a digital instrument cluster.
Our tester featured the impressive 12.3-inch digital display that is the main feature of the Audi virtual cockpit, plus as part of the optional technology package. This screen is almost two inches bigger than standard and is as crisp and clear as you’ll find in more expensive Audis.
Our Q3 also featured the optional 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen with MMI navigation. This upgrade allows natural-language voice control and includes real-time data for the navigation. The optional 15-speaker Bang and Olufsen sound system with 3D sound is every bit as good as you’d expect from Audi’s top-end sound supplier.
The new Q3 is locally offered in only one engine version: a four-cylinder, direct injection unit with turbocharging, 1.4 petrol engine, producing 110 kW of power and 250 Nm of torque. It is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed S tronic gearbox.
Although not a rocket, the engine performed with no hassles at all in dense traffic. If it’s more power you are after, you’ll have to wait for something with an S on it. What was disappointing in our tester, despite all its standard safety features, was that it didn’t have adaptive cruise control, something you’d expect of a car batting in the premium segment.
Although the Q3 isn’t billed as an off-roader, Audi does claim that the longer wheelbase and drive select handling system should make the occasional trip off the beaten track more comfortable. While the system uses the pre-sets for all six profiles in terms of throttle response, steering and shift characteristics, the optional suspension with damper control also measures body movement by way of sensors which is then adjusted accordingly.
It is a big step forward from the outgoing model. The price tag of R585 000 is quite attractive, but before you know it, all the optional extras might mean you end up paying closer to R800 000.
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