The new Audi Q3 was running the risk of becoming my travel jinx car. So much so, I went down to the car’s local launch a full two days early.
Okay, that is a bit of a white lie. I did go down to Knysna two days before the launch, but that was to spend some time with my family, indulge in the fresh sea air and tackle a few cold beers. But a jinx the Q3 was.
I was invited to drive this car overseas a few months ago and, thanks to a very efficient South African passport control officer who noticed I didn’t have enough legal space left in my passport, I had to remain here.
My new passport had arrived, but was at another embassy waiting for a visa. And the fact I had got away with it until then was hardly an acceptable excuse. I pleaded, I begged, I even offered Nando’s and a Coke to anybody who wanted some but staying here I was.
So, round two: Knysna. I finally get to drive the all new Q3 that is bigger, offers more comfort and looks a whole lot better. I honestly didn’t think the previous generation car was anything to look at, but this second-generation offering has moved it up a notch or two.
You get LED headlights as standard and Matrix LED headlights as an option, along with a host of customising options that include a contrasting paint finish for the lower body section, to go with two exterior trim lines over and above the standard model, namely the advanced and S line trim lines. Each provides a different look for the exterior. Oh, and you can choose from 11 colours.
The Q3 is 96 mm longer, 18 mm wider, the wheelbase is 77 mm longer and the roof five millimetres lower. Which not only means extra space for the occupants, but – depending on the position of the rear seats – your luggage space goes from 530 litres to 675 and then to 1 525 litres with the seats folded flat.
Just like the exterior, you can opt for a sports package or S line sports interior over and above the standard offering. And this sees the likes of Alcantara being used on the surfaces, along with sports seats, to name some of the enhancements. They are available in different colours, steel grey or bold orange.
Audi has done away with the analogue instruments. The digital instrument cluster with a 10.25-inch screen is standard and you can opt for multi-functional Audi Virtual Cockpit Display. Getting out on the road, Audi South Africa is offering one engine version at this time, a 35 TFSI, which in English is a 110kW/250Nm, 1.4-litre petrol engine that drives the front wheels via a six-speed S tronic double-clutch automatic gearbox.
I have to say, while the new Q3 in this guise won’t blow your socks off, obviously, the 1.4 engine was more than enough for urban and open-road use.
While we are here, who lost the bet and was given the job of changing the Audi model naming convention? Was it after a few beers with the boss on casual Friday or something? 35 TFSI means nothing to a man or beast outside of Ingolstadt.
For what it is worth, here they are:
- Badge 25 – 80 kW and under
- Badge 30 – 81 kW to 91 kW
- Badge 35 – 110 kW to 120 kW
- Badge 40 – 125 kW to 150 kW
- Badge 45 – 169 kW to 185 kW
- Badge 50 – 210 kW to 230 kW
- Badge 55 – 245 kW to 275 kW
- Badge 60 – 320 kW to 340 kW
- Badge 70 – 400 kW and above
Told you, alcohol and work seldom work out like you think it is going to. What was even more impressive than the easy nature of the powerplant, was the ride quality on both tar and dirt. The Q3 insulates you from the noise of the outside world and the drive is so smooth you wouldn’t know you were driving on dirt.
As usual, the new Q3 is also at the top of its class when it comes to assist systems. You get lane departure warning, park assist, cross traffic assist and four 360 degree cameras for that all-round view of obstacles.
In wrapping up, Audi South Africa has cut down on the number of options available on the new Q3 and thus have reduced the complexity that exists when you try and spec a premium car. And this also translates into improved value for money, thanks to the bundling of options into one package.
Q3 35 TFSI S tronic – R565 000
Q3 35 TFSI Advanced S tronic – R585 000
Q3 35 TFSI S line S tronic – R599 000