The second-generation of Audi’s extremely popular entry-level luxury compact crossover is bigger, more attractive, more powerful and it features more standard features than before. Reason enough for Dieter Losskarn to take the mini-Q8 on a short road trip.

Audi hit a sweet spot in 2011, when the Q3 emerged from Ingolstadt.The midsize crossover market is the most important segment, especially when it is combined with driving dynamics and a bit of luxury. The Bang & Olufsen sound system is delivering some Kiffness in 3D sound to my ears, while I am cruising, quite comfortably on a dusty, corrugated track towards De Hoop Nature reserve in the Overberg region of the Cape.
Globally the Q3 has been outselling his siblings A1, A3 & A4. So it was time for a second generation to keep the momentum going. While the ‘old’ one was based on the heavier PQ35 platform, the new Q3 shares its underpinnings with the VW Tiguan. The MQB platform is lighter and offers more space in the cabin. Something the first-gen was missing. Now it is almost 10 cm longer, more powerful and more attractive. As usual, when I take the pont across the Malgas river, I admire my ride, parked on the worn wooden planks of the only men-drawn ferry in South Africa. I love this pulse orange paint job, even when it is wearing a bit of dust mascara. The new single frame, three-dimensional grille is much wider, giving the updated Q3 an even bolder stance. I am driving the S line version with the optional 19inch cast alloy 5-double-spoke dynamic style wheels. There are two more trim lines below the S line on offer: basic and advanced.
Initially there was no Quattro model available in SA and only one engine and transmission. The 1.4-l. 4 cyl., paired with a 6-speed S tronic auto. Not particularly sporty, but a relaxed cruiser. To be honest, on the N2 I wouldn’t have minded a bit more power, but I was fine overtaking in dynamic mode and gear shifter in S.
Inside the premium character continues. There is the optional large centre display, the new steering wheel and the MMI navigation system, as well as other useful details, like the inductive smartphone charging tray in the middle console.
The Q3 is talking to a youthful target demographic. And first time Audi buyers will most likely stay in the family and upgrade to a Q5 afterwards. Or they go for the lifestyle version of the regular Q3, the slightly more expensive Sportback. Same principle as what family member Porsche demonstrated with the stylish Cayenne Coupé.
Verdict: I was really happy with the Q3 TFSI 35, but in a perfect world, I would first of all choose the sexier lifestyle Sportback version. And then a more potent powerplant. Not the 40 (140kW) or the 45 (169kW), but the top of the range Q3RS with an almost incredible output of 294kW! I absolutely loved the pulse orange paint scheme of ‘my’ Q3, but after seeing the kyalami-green option, I might be tempted to swop colours. You can at least dream. Vorsprung durch Sex Appeal.

 

Audi Q3 35 TFSI S Line S tronic 
Engine 1.4-l. 4cyl., paired with a 6-speed S tronic box
Power 110kW and 250Nm
Top Speed 204 km/h
0-100km/h 8.9 seconds
Price R599 000, as tested: R782 750
www.audi.co.za

Audi’s entry-level model A1 is an absolute surprise in this market segment. Not only does it have an enormous stance and tons of street cred, it handles like a dream and is so much fun to drive.

Audi A1 Sportback 40 TFSI S line S tronic 
Engine 2-l. 4cyl. paired with a 6-speed S tronic box & Quattro AWD
Power 147kW and 320Nm
Top Speed 235 km/h
0-100km/h 6.5 seconds
Price R488 000, as tested: R594 400
www.audi.co.za

Audi numerology
Audi loves to confuse bystanders with the numbers and letters on the back of their cars. TFSI is clear, indicating the petrol variant. But what does 35 mean? a 3.5-l. engine? Wrong, the two-number combination indicates a rough power output. The power range translates to numbers as follows:
30 = 81 to 96kW
40 = 125 to 150 kW
45 = 169 to 185kW
50 = 210 to 230kW
55 = 245 to 275kW
60 = 320 t0 338kW
70 = beyond 400kW