Like Nadia Nakai would say, Pull up in a four door Audi, this brought a great feeling just like in the song when we spent some time in the Audi Q3. The hip hop song describes an Audi as a comfortable car with the element of cool to it. The Q3 does not shy away from upholding that as you feel like you’re on top of the world.
Audi’s strategy with the new Q3 SUV may be simple, but it’s playing the long game. Give owners a taste of that sweet four-rings goodness, get them hooked, and then turn them into lifelong Audi fans. The compact luxury crossover category represents rich pickings, too, if you can get those first impressions just right.
Not only is it the fastest growing major premium segment, but buyers picking up an entry premium SUV overwhelmingly come from non-premium vehicles. They’ve got plenty to choose from, too, with BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, and others all eyeing a new generation of drivers and hoping to make them brand-loyalists. To succeed you need a small SUV that’s not just good, but excellent.
It’s fair to say that the old Q3 couldn’t really be described that way. Too small, too staid, not flexible enough in the cabin or in the trunk, and lagging in driving refinement and comfort, it was also looking pretty drab when it came to technology in comparison to the rest of Audi’s line-up.
It’s a handsome SUV, larger in all respects than its predecessor, while Audi’s oversized detailing like the sizable “Singleframe” grille leaves the Q3 looking even more akin to the Q5 in overall scale. The most important growth is in the length, where the vast majority of the 3.8-inch increase has gone into the wheelbase. It pays particular dividends for rear seat space, where legroom is up along with more head and shoulder space.
With an all-black interior and a touch of orange suede on the dashboard and door panels this pop of colour brought enough life to the car and made it more visually appealing. Up front, the dashboard gets a single touchscreen version of Audi’s latest – and excellent – infotainment system, MMI touch response. An 8.8-inch touchscreen is standard, with a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster that swaps analogue dials for fixed digital versions. Available as an upgrade is a 10.1-inch touchscreen with handwriting recognition and navigation, along with the 12.3-inch Audi virtual cockpit for the driver.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, with wireless CarPlay an option. That also comes with a special “phone box” in the centre console, which can wirelessly charge your phone and allow it to tap into the better antenna on the Q3’s roof. You can also have a Bang & Olufsen 3D audio system.
The seats provide the much-needed comfort and support when travelling a long distance and intermittent trips within the city. The Audi Q3 also boasts great boot space allowing the family to travel with all their essentials and more to a weekend getaway or on holiday. The rear seats do move ever so slightly allowing more space to be created in the boot of the car. However, this does take away from the rear passenger’s legroom.
The cabin is a massive step forward, both in terms of design and in practicality.
The exterior of the Audi Q3 is much like the previous generations however, new sharper lines chrome grille, new rear indicators make it much slicker and appeasing to the eye. The model we had on test was the Audi Q3 35 TFSI S Line S Tronic and it was Mythos Black. The full black enhances the overall look of the car and this particular one had an optional metallic paint.
Compared to the outgoing Q3, the 2019 update is crisper and a little more memorable. It also looks more serious and premium than the segment might suggest. There’s even a hint of Bentley Bentayga from the rear three-quarters, at least to my eyes, with Audi’s beefy Quattro-highlighting fenders leaving the Q3 pleasingly muscular.
The engine is packing a 1 395 cc engine that produces a 110kW and 250nm of torque with a 6 speed S-Tronic transmission. Even though on paper the power seems sufficient, I thought it was lacking when it you had to pick up speed and around urban areas the car would drag the 3rd gear and I’d have to manually over ride to the next gear.
The Audi Q3 is great on the open road and we managed to average 7.4l/100km with an average speed of 120km/h driving from Bloemfontein to Johannesburg. However, as a whole the performance of the car is underwhelming. The interior and exterior designs still maintain my best feature about the Audi Q3 and based on that it has the “cool factor”.
There’s a lot to like about the new Q3. Bigger, better equipped, and more practical, it’s both a far more well-rounded car in its segment, and a far more appealing SUV to Audi fans.
That said, there are a few blind spots. The absence of a hybrid – even a 48V mild hybrid option – seems blinkered, and Audi’s decision to not even offer the Sport package, never mind the upcoming RS Q3, is disappointing. A little adaptive suspension love would be all it might take to light this crossover up in the corners.
The majority of the new Audi Q3’s audience won’t, I suspect, be too upset. As an entry point into the automaker’s range, it’s competitively priced and checks off plenty of tech and active safety boxes. In a fiendishly competitive category, Audi’s laser-focus on getting the Q3 recipe right is almost as bright as its dashboard.
Our test unit came priced at R599 000 standard, with optional extras bringing it to R744 750.