Second-generation crossover is roomier and more sophisticated, claims Audi
The second-generation Audi Q3 has been revealed before orders open in the autumn and the first cars appear on roads in November. According to the German manufacturer, the new Q3 plays a different role from its predecessor because it is no longer the baby crossover of the family. It is more practical, more generously equipped and more mature in its appearance to make space in the model range for the new Q2.
“The buyers of the first Q3 have grown up and so it has grown up, too,” said Matthias Fink, exterior designer for the new car. “With the Q2 playing the role of the young one, we focused on getting the Q3’s design balance right so that now it looks more like an SUV.”
This shift is most obvious in the car’s exterior design, which has been influenced by the German car maker’s new premium SUV, the Q8. The new Q3 has slimmer LED headlights (models at the top of the range get matrix LEDs with adaptive beams), a larger front grille and more pronounced shoulder lines, creating a significant design contrast to the softer shapes featured on the first Q3.
Buyers can specify wheels of up to 20in in diameter (sizes start at 17in) and have their cars finished in more vibrant colours than before. Audi offers a contrasting paint finish for the lower section of the Q3 to create the illusion of a higher ride height, something Audi’s designers said further adds to the SUV look.
Audi will eventually supply a choice of five engines for the Q3, although which of those will be offered to UK customers has yet to be determined. The entry-level Q3 will be powered by a 148bhp TFSI 35 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol. There will be two 2.0-litre petrols, the 187bhp TFSI 40 and 227bhp TFSI 45, and two 2.0-litre TDI diesel options, named 35 and 40 and producing 148bhp and 187bhp respectively.
Interior space has improved compared with the outgoing Q3 because the new version is based upon longer and wider elements of the VW Group’s MQB toolkit. The boot features an adjustable floor and holds up to 675 litres when the rear bench is slid forward. It can move forward and back by 150mm and can be split 40/20/40. Fold it down entirely and there’s 1525 litres of space. An electric tailgate with hands-free operation is an option.
Like its larger siblings, the new Q3 is available with adaptive damper technology, as well as a long list of driver assist systems. These include familiar cruise and park assist features, a 360deg camera view and pedestrian detection.
Inside, there’s the familiar suite of Audi technology but, as in the recently launched A1 hatchback, the Q3 inherits its systems from the class above. Entry-level cars get a 10.25in instrument cluster. Top-spec models feature either the 10.25in cluster or, when Audi’s Virtual Cockpit is specified, an optional 12.3in screen which uses Google Earth maps and accepts voice commands.
To enhance the new Q3’s family appeal, in the front of the cabin it has two USB ports, one of which accepts the smaller Type C connector that is likely to become the new standard. There are two more USB ports in the rear, as well as a 12V socket. The new Q3 is equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for smartphone connectivity and a 15-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system is also offered.
UK pricing has yet to be confirmed, but the new, higher-spec Q3 is expected to be more expensive than the current car, which starts at £27,915.
Q&A MATTHIAS FINK, AUDI DESIGNER
Why did the Audi Q3 have to grow up?
“I always say the small dogs bark louder than the big ones. The Q2 is the small dog here. The Q3 is definitely not cute any more. Where the former Q3 was rounder, this one needed to be more abstract so it can be separate from Q2 and fit nicely beneath the Q5.”
Is there a sporting influence in the design?
“That’s Audi’s character.
Its genes are sporty. We looked back at what Audi means and decided to sharpen the Q3’s character, really taking influence from the essence of Audi, which is Quattro.”
So did a model from Audi’s past inspire the design?
“If you remember the first TT, the line drawing was really logical. No line ended in nothing. Everything served a purpose. Here, we did the same: the lines on the Q3 are all necessary.”