Audi’s Q3 is a car for our times

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One of the most aggressive-looking beasts of that era when we lost the run of ourselves was the Audi Q7 SUV. I didn’t much like it and it probably suffered from being such an overblown element of those blinging times.

However that was then, and while a few of the beasts can still be spotted roaming among the ghost estates, its far more palatable baby sisters are on the way. Already, we have seen the Q5 but even that was fairly large.

Now the real patter of little feet can be heard as the Q3 is arriving in the autumn to assuage the the public’s healthier appetite for smaller crossovers as the sales of the big SUVs hopefully will continue their terminal decline — in the cities, anyway. There is also a Q1 coming, which will directly compete with the Mini Countryman.

The all new Q3 is Audi’s first foray into the premium A SUV segment and orders will begin at the end of August. The Q3 will have the distinction of being the first Audi SUV to offer the efficiency-focused option of a 54mpg front-wheel-drive variant. Inquiries are being accepted now at Audi Ireland’s dealer network, with first deliveries beginning in late October.

While pricing for the Q3 starts at €33,850, it cost a massive extra €800 in the awful dealer-related charges to get the road price of €34,650 for the 2.0TDI 140 SE version, which is expected to account for the majority of orders.

Four engines will initially be available, including two petrol models, all combining direct fuel injection with turbo charging and all backed up by start-stop and energy-recuperation systems.

A quattro version will come early in 2012. With emissions of just 133g/km, the 2.0 TDI 140 variant is in tax band B, qualifying the purchaser for annual road tax of just €156.

From a design perspective, the new Audi Q3 is said to have been built “to break the mould”. With a long, broad body, coupe-like roof line and smooth, sweeping lines, it deliberately avoids the traditional ‘boxy’ look of an SUV.

And with its low lean-forward stance and muscular, flared wheel arches, the Q3 goes for a sporty character, yet it remains instantly recognisable as an Audi.

Audi claims that there will be seating for up to five adults but my experience is that that is usually four and a bit. The company says the boot space offered in the Q3 (460 litres) is superior to that of all its main competitors.

Externally, the SE version includes 17-inch alloy wheels, aluminium roof rails and rear parking sensors, and inside dual-zone climate control, a concert audio system with 6.5-inch retractable colour display screen, Bluetooth interface, Audi Music Interface (iPod connection) and multifunction leather steering wheel.

The Q3 will also come equipped with navigation preparation, enabling customers to ‘activate’ navigation retrospectively by purchasing an SD card if required.

For a premium of €3,300 above SE versions, the new Audi Q3 can be upgraded to the S line specification, which includes 18-inch alloy wheels, S-line exterior and interior styling enhancements and xenon headlamps, with LED daytime running lamps and LED rear tail lights.

I have been getting bored with the crossover breed, except for superb cars like the SkodaYeti. Audi’s offering in the premium sector could just get me interested again.

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