Premium car manufacturers often create lower tiered products targeted at the aspirational. These cars allow the automakers access to a highly lucrative sub-section of badge-conscious car buyers.
But increasing a car’s accessibility often comes at a cost. The end product often falls short of the user experience you’d have come to expect from a prestigious European brand. It isn’t uncommon to find lacklustre equipment levels, or even lower-rent materials used in the build of such cars.
There’s a science to juggling the delicate balance between cost, and preserving the experience worthy of a manufacturer’s nameplate. Especially one as iconic as Audi’s. And that’s exactly what they’ve done with the latest Q3 variant.
It may be hard to believe, but the current generation of the Q3 was launched nearly half a decade ago. In a market where cars are seemingly refreshed every other year, you may be surprised to find out that the car has never had a facelift.
Despite this, it still manages to look fresh and remain competitive in a market saturated with entry-level premium crossovers. This is proof that uncluttered lines and strict adherence to a brand’s design identity are the cornerstones of stylistic longevity.
One other contributing factor is Audi’s decision to enrich the aesthetics of the car with thoughtful details. No basic halogen light clusters here - the locally-delivered Q3 cars have always had LED light clusters front and rear. It makes for decent road presence, especially when combined with Audi’s signature Singleframe grille, which has gained a bold silver surround trim panel in this application.
It may be a premium SUV designed for the mass market, but there’s nothing entry-level about the overall cabin experience. All the bells and whistles you’d expected in an Audi are present in the Q3. The electric seats, infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a fully-digital cluster, all appear to be items that you’d also find in cars costing significantly more.
Material quality is excellent throughout the cabin. Soft touch materials and thoughtfully appointed seats make for a relaxing drive. To further amp up the user experience, a lot of the car’s functionality is still controlled via physical switchgear dotted about the cabin. Though this probably isn’t by design, as this is an older vehicle that is less reliant on screens to control everything.
Despite its smaller stature, there’s proper space on the inside. In fact, if you’re of average stature, cabin real estate can actually be described as generous. Practicality is also a non-issue. With a sizable boot and decently large rear door apertures, this entry-level compact SUV will serve the needs of a small family very well.
A Cosseting Drive
The insulation offered by the Q3 is commendable, especially considering where it sits on the Audi food chain. And it drives really well for a compact SUV too. I wouldn’t call it sporty, but it definitely isn’t unruly.
Propulsion is provided by a 1.5 litre four pot. Dubbed the EA211, it has also been used in a smorgasbord of Volkswagen-Audi Group offerings. No wonder too, for this is a highly versatile powertrain. In this application, the engine is noticeably more vocal, though that may also be the reason why torque is decent even from idle.
This makes for a car that never really feels strained when puttering around town. And in all fairness, even at higher speeds on the open roads, the drivetrain continues to impress, providing just about sufficient power, whilst returning impressive fuel economy figures.
An Accessible Audi Without Compromise
The Q3 is probably the most affordable offering from Ingolstadt that you can buy without any major compromise to the Germanic experience. Equipment level and materials do not take a hit despite its mass-market oriented price tag.
Maintenance should also be a non-issue too. The engine fitted to this Q3 has been known to be one of the most bulletproof motors in Audi’s lineup, with owners of other EA211 cars citing little to no reliability concerns over the course of this engine’s 12 year life cycle.
What you’re getting with a Q3 is the quality of a German car, without the long-term durability concerns that plague a lot of the older European vehicles. And that alone should sway you into pulling the trigger if you happen to be shopping for such a vehicle!
|Audi Q3 1.5 Specifications|
|Price: $253,455||VES Band: B|
Turbocharged Inline-Four Mild Hybrid
148 bhp, 250 Nm
7-Speed S Tronic
Fuel Tank Capacity:
4,484 mm x 1,856 mm x 1,616 mm
Photo Credits: ACube Creative (@weareacube)
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