Audi Q3 1.4 TFSI S-tronic: Looks can be deceiving

 

When the Audi Q3 was launched in 2012, we thought that it looked too small to be called a sports utility vehicle. Three years later and a couple of facelifts after, the Q3 retained its same size, albeit looking a little sleeker now.

But is it as small as it looks?

Exterior

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The evolution of Audi’s Singleframe front grille can be seen on the Q3, with the latest facelift featuring its newest revision, complimenting the enhanced signature daytime running lights across both headlamp assemblies.

We felt that this new design is taking a similar ride as what BMW is doing with its range – they all look the same! From the Q3 to the Q5, the common passer-by who knows little about cars would not be able to differentiate them by looking at its front façade.

For the more well-read and informed, the Q3 stands at only 4,388 mm long and 1,608 mm tall (wait a minute, I’m taller than the Q3!). Looking at the figures, it does feel a little too small to be called an SUV.

Interior

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As we said, looks can be deceiving. Yes, it stands shorter than an average height adult male, and it doesn’t look too wide measuring at 1.8 metres across its width.

But slide into the cabin and we realized that this compact SUV actually is and feels bigger than it looks. The front seats take on an average-sized Singaporean adult comfortably, with sufficient room to spare for maneuvering your legs around once in a while on longer drives.

With that configuration, the rear isn’t neglected too. We wouldn’t recommend sitting three at the rear, but two would make a reasonable ride and space for your bags, or just a stretch at the lights.

We’ve also always thought that people who buy SUVs generally belong to two categories: people who want the fun and luxury of height and road presence; and people who need the space.

The Q3 doesn’t really satisfy the first criteria, but nevertheless makes up for it at the boot. The standard sized compartment offers 460 litres of space, sufficient for your shopping bags and stroller. But if you have luggages or are moving, you’d be glad to know that with folded rear seats, the Q3 offers you up to 1,360 litres of boot space.

The Drive

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When we first heard of the launch of this compact SUV, our thoughts fell straight to the 1,395 cc engine sitting beneath the hood. Would a 1.4 litre plant be enough to power this SUV?

But discounting the low capacity, we were pleased to note that the Q3 performed reasonably well, churning out 150 horses (unfortunately still above the 130 bhp Category A COE mark) and 250 Nm of torque.

It brings you to the century mark in 8.9 seconds, not the fastest in its class, but it still is zippy enough to give you a quick head start from the lights.

The Q3 comes with Audi’s six-speed S-tronic transmission system, but despite it being one-gear short of the usual Audis, it drove seamlessly between gears, with no noticeable jerks or rattles.

Sitting higher than the normal sedans (not much though), the Q3 handles bumps and potholes reasonably well. The ride felt cushioned, giving you the feeling of a refined journey, possibly comfortable enough for you to have a decent meal on board without any spillage.

Conclusion

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The Q3 presents itself as a no-frills, solid built-quality, compact luxury SUV. It offers you a variety of features that will please the technologically-tuned geek, and provides a ride comfortable enough to cruise the more bumpy roads on this island.

For an entry level SUV, this might just be the ideal choice for young couples who don’t yearn for intense power or high-end luxury.

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