There’s a newcomer on our long term fleet. Audi’s new compact SUV, the Q3, has joined the Diesel Car extended drive collection, fresh from its recent UK launch. Sue Baker has pocketed the keyfob.
The Q3 has been grabbing more attention than I expected. Parked on the M25 in one of its habitual tailbacks, we found ourselves alongside a Q7. Its driver unashamedly stared at my more diminutive Q-car, then edged forward to line up the two bonnets and gaze backwards, before next dropping back to line up the tails and scrutinise the forward alignment. He was clearly sizing up the Q3 against his own car, but the traffic started moving before I could motor the window downwards and ask him to comment. Then a few days later I parked at a local shopping parade outside a pizza restaurant, and the family at a table just inside the door immediately craned their necks to peer intently at the Audi, very obviously discussing it, while their meals cooled on the table.
The family at a table just inside the door immediately craned their necks to peer intently at the Audi”
I was there to meet a friend, and she wanted to try sitting in the back of the Q3. Apparently she and her family – all very tall people – had sampled an Evoque but found the rear headroom too restrictive. Her verdict on the Q3: much better for overhead space in the back. Meanwhile I have been longing for winter to bite. The Q3 and I are ready for whatever it throws at us. Just before Christmas I made a trip to Milton Keynes to have the car re-shod with a set of winter tyres, since when the weather has been unseasonably mild. Grrr. The car now has satellite navigation fitted too. More about that next month.
Date arrived: 24th November 2011
Mileage to date: 2,981miles
Fuel Consumption: 47.9mpg (official combined) / 41.3mpg (on test)
As someone who sails through life on a sea of coffee, I cannot resist applying the analogy to cars. Last month I bade farewell to my skinny latte long-termer, the super frugal Skoda Octavia GreenLine II. In its place, I now have custody of the newest arrival on the fleet: a hunky, chunky compact SUV, the Audi Q3. It’s a double-shot cappuccino of a car.
On a blustery cold couple of days in Yorkshire on the UK launch of the Q3, I warmed to the robustly prestige comfort and competence of the latest Audi Q-car. As fog blanketed the moorland peaks, bitingly chill winds frothed the sea into a white-capped frenzy and waves lashed the craggy coastline, the sure-footed Audi with its quattro four-wheel-drive system was a particularly agreeable place to be.
So when Audi offered one of the launch cars as a new addition to our fleet, I gladly grabbed the keyfob proferred by Mr Editor. Mutinous thoughts had briefly erupted when he announced that the ultra economical Octavia was to be wrested away and handed to my London-dweller colleague Matthew Carter, but the Q3 was more than adequate compensation. It promised more frequent refuelling stops, but also a fresh stimulation of driving fun. Plus, if this winter emulates the icy blast of last year, all-wheel-drive will be a desirable asset in my chilly, hilly corner of Kent.
The precise version of the Q3 that we have here is the two-litre turbodiesel with quattro four-wheel-drive, in SE trim, with the S tronic seven-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission. The basic price is £28,460, but then come the extras. Ice silver metallic paint adds £525, and the black alcantara/leather sports seats that posh up the interior are a meaty £1,195. So those additions already push the price past £30,000.
A list of desirable options adds the rest, boosting our Q3’s bottom line to a chunky £33,800. The good-looking 18-inch five-twin-spoke design alloys are £495, while a storage package and luggage compartment package add £100 and £85 respectively. Highly desirable hill-hold assist is £90, and the xenon light package is £1,150. By comparison, the three-spoke multi-function Q-design steering wheel, with gear-shift paddles fitted to it, looks quite a bargain at £240. Even better, the car’s reversible luggage compartment floor is a handy feature and included as a no-cost option.
We’re not finished yet. The through-load facility that lets you carry long items by inserting them through a hatch in the back seat is £175. An auto-dimming rear-view mirror is £295, and classy on-trend aluminium trim inlays are £205. Tyre pressure monitoring adds £85, high beam assist is £100, cruise control is a £225 asset, the driver’s information system adds £120, and the high-quality Audi sound system is £255. Phew.
… If this winter emulates the icy blast of last year, all-wheel-drive will be a desirable asset in my chilly, hilly corner of Kent.”
The only obvious omission is satellite navigation, and frankly it was a surprise to find that a car with an almost £34,000 price tag lacks this de rigueur kit. But the Q3 is satnav-ready, and Audi offers it as an after-market dealer fitment, and we hope to have it installed within the next few weeks.
So here we are, a month and over 800 miles later, and the Q3 has already slotted into working and family life like a trusted friend. Its first cross-country gallop after arriving chez household Baker was a trip to Goodwood, where it attracted some local attention as the new kid on the block while parked overnight at the posh hotel on the estate. A Q7 owner perused it approvingly and delivered a verdict that it was “my car, only scaled down – it’s really the same silhouette, just shrunk a bit.”
A few days later the Q3 carried us and weekend luggage down the M20, to a hotel rendezvous where we were due to collect a new Volkswagen Tiguan, head for Dover and one of P&O’s new super-ferries, and drive to St Omer. This was in company with fellow members of the Southern Group of Motoring Writers in an assortment of VW models, on a try-the-range event organised by Volkswagen UK. The Tiguan made an interesting comparison with our Q3: same chassis, same engine, different badges.
With the two cars parked side-by-side, you could instantly see that the Q3 is essentially a posh Tiguan, with a more cohesive exterior styling and a slightly lower roofline, giving it a sportier stance. They are VW Group cousins and rivals, wooing similar customers: family drivers who like an SUV for its high driving position and elevated viewpoint, and who favour a four-by-four as a lifestyle choice for country sure-footedness and winter peace-of mind, but have absolutely no mud-plugging pretensions. Well, not many, anyway. I quite like the Q3’s tyres adorned with a modest smear of mud. Coffee-coloured, of course.