An assistant editor with autoX, Ishan has great technical and practical knowledge, and his life-long love for cars has seen him devote some of the best years of his youth to perhaps wasteful, yet satisfying, pursuit of his obsession with automobiles. He has worked with lifestyle publishing brands as a freelance / consultant for over 5 years and as a part of the autoX team for 3 years.
November 2014

Audi launches a face lifted version of its popular SUV – the Audi Q3. We drive it in Germany to find out whether the changes and improvements made to Audi’s successful SUV improve the overall package to match the competition.

One of the primary reasons for the success of the Audi brand in India over the past few years has been the launch of the Q3. With its combination of affordability for the Indian consumer, along with high quality levels and handsome looks, the consumers immediately took to Audi’s smallest SUV and the brand has run up good sales volumes of the Q3 ever since.

However, with the competition now stiffening – especially with the launch of the Mercedes GLA – it was perhaps an  opportune time for Audi to refresh the Q3, which has been in the global market since 2011. So, the face lifted Q3 comes with visual changes, which to be honest are quite minimal, but considering that even after almost 4 years of its initial launch the Audi Q3 is still quite a looker, perhaps more detailed changes were not needed. But the changes made show that Audi’s attention to detail continues, with the new headlights – now bi-xenon as standard with the option of LED’s – and the LED taillights look much sharper and attract attention. Additionally, the Q3 also features dynamic turn indicators ala the R8, which indicate in the direction where the car is turning, and is quite a attractive visual. The Audi Q3 now also features a larger, single piece front grille, which along with the revised bumper makes the car look more assertive. The revised Audi Q3 is now offered in two trim levels – Design Equipment and Sport Equipment – which offer different trim options. Along with this, the Q3 will also offer the S-Line trim option featuring a sportier looking body kit.

Interiors however do not receive much of a change – not that much was needed because on the Q3, like most other Audi’s features class-leading interiors with outstanding fit-and-finish, quality levels and attention to detail. Minor changes includes new trim styles on the dashboard, including an aluminium style look, along with options such as carbon fibre and wood. The Q3 now offer the latest version of Audi’s MMI system – MMI navigation plus – which offers in-car WiFi – it connects to the internet via Audi connect, which enables use of Google Maps and Google Earth along with Audi music stream, the navigation because of which worked brilliantly. Along with seamless integration with smartphones, and internet access directly in the MMI, this is a significant technological boost. Boot space is also identical, and the boot now features a luggage compartment cover as standard, while a power tailgate is now optionally also available.

According to the engineers at Audi, the engine lineup of the Q3 has been completely revamped and the engines have received multiple changes. So, the main seller in the Indian market – the 2-litre TDI now is renamed as the TDI Ultra and offers more power and lesser emissions than the previous engine. Power output is now at 181bhp and 380Nm of torque, while the base version of the engine produces 148bhp and 340Nm. Paired with the engine are two gearbox options – a six-speed manual and a 7-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic. Along with this, the Q3 also features the Quattro all-wheel drive system for added traction and usability. At this time however, it is not clear how many of these versions will be launched in India. However, we expect the 2-litre diesel engine to be offered in India in both automatic and manual form, with the automatic version featuring the Quattro all-wheel drive system.

The changes made to the drive train by the Audi engineers are quite evident when driving the Q3, with the engine featuring improved NVH, along with a very smooth power delivery. Changes to the gearbox ratios have also improved the driveability and the gearbox response is also faster, while even in auto mode the gearbox chooses optimum gears and there’s virtually no lag in between gear shifts. Such is all-weather ability of the Q3 with the Quattro system that we could easily maintain high triple-digit speeds on the German autobahns even in the rainy, wet weather conditions.

So, while the visual changes to the Q3 might be restricted, the overall package has been improved significantly and when it gets launched in the Indian market next year, it promises to make the competition much tougher in the small SUV segment.