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  • Writer's pictureIshaan Bharadwaj

Four Rings for Maniacs - Audi Q3 40 TFSI

I've been away from Audi cars for a long time! During this period, my ex-girlfriend got married to someone else, and she now has a son, COVID-19 happened, my parents took retirement, and I have 50% more grey hair. But it's not all bad news!


I fell in love with Audis ever since I got a chance to smash my skull on the Alcantara headrests of the RS6 and the RS7 back in 2016 and the love never depleted, I've had some of the greatest memories driving the finest cars from Ingolstadt, Germany. Unfortunately, due to making some poor life decisions, Audi and I were separated for half a decade! But we've now made merry and entered an Audi Q3 in TheRaceMonkey Garage.


Exterior



This new 2022-2023 avatar has oodles of character in the way it looks and is quintessentially Audi. There is no denying the fact that this is a handsome-looking car. I use the term 'handsome' because the Q3 in the previous generation had a more feminine outlook, it attracted more girlfriends than dudes. This one however gets a shot of testosterone right where it is needed.


There are chiseled muscle lines, cuts and creases which makes it stand out in the crowd of cars which have a very rounded or disproportionate outlook to design. I really like the way that the Q3 in its sillhouette still looks like a quintessential Q3. The front has large LED headlamps with elements that are reminiscent to a shark's gills and vertically slated coloumns on the grill which gives it a very masculine appeal. There is a sense of maturity to the design and it will age well over the car's lifecycle.



Onto the rear end of the car, there are enough elements to signify that this is an Audi product and cannot be mistaken for anything else. There is a slight coupe-esque design flair to the rear three-quarters and the the windscreen drops into the bulbous looking boot lid makes the car look wider from behind. There are large exhaust outlets at the back with 'wait for it' real exhasut pipes in it.



The Q3 in India comes fitted with 18 inch alloy wheels as standard across the range. We had these 5 arm designed alloy wheels in our 2023 version and honestly, they look pretty smart although to some the design might look a little plain visually, but trust me these are way easier to maintain in a car like the Q3 which will be used as a daily! Thick tyre profile too helps with ride quality at max.


What's Inside



Once you step inside you're be greeted by one of the most ergonomic cabins in the history of cabins and ergonimics. This is a space which will allure the people who have a fetish of quality and logically laid out instruments. The steering wheel isn't the fiddly flat bottom one which is gaining popularity everywhere. There is a large 10.25 inch MMI touch screen that takes centre stange on the dashboard and it is placed in the most logical position. The new Audi MMI UI has one of the easiest menu options that do not confuse you like you get in BMW's latest iDrive system which honestly, is a little too fiddly to use.




Right above the touch screen are the two large sized air conditioning vents and below the screen is the dual-zone climate control system which has PROPER PHYSICAL BUTTONS & KNOBS, a rare yet significantly scientific design for cars built in 2023-24. Thank you Audi. The air conditioning in Delhi's scorching heat is working efficiently, cooling down the cabin without much effort and quickly.



Even the drive select switch is a big button, something one can press with the tip of their nose or wearing thick eskimo gloves while ploughing through the snow. And look at that physical knob for the volume control. All of this is ORGASMIC to the senses. What fantastic cabin appointments. The gear lever is as tall as a Formula-1 Trophy and the wireless charging pad is exactly where it is supposed to be for a normal human being to access his/her mobile device.



The instruments display too is one of the easiest to read and use. There is absolutely every data that you need in the day to day driving and the large ROUND digital dials mean that you won't be confused while driving over long distance. Less driving fatigue is always a win win situation. On the corner of the instruments display are meteres for fuel and engine temperature which are neatly tucked for better visibility.

What's it like to drive? The Q3 gets the legendary Quattro system from the previous generation and is now a standard fitment across the range than an option only for the top of line variant. Audi will give you a physical flip key to insert and twist in the base variant of the Q3 but will also make sure that you have enough traction to spoil yourself around some muddy terrain when you feel like letting loose with their All wheel drive system.


This is perhaps one of the most exciting car that I have driven in a long time, although it gets the same transversely mounted 1,984 cc TFSI motor with a smaller single scroll turbocharger and a relatively larger intercooler as compared to the last generation producing 190 bhp peaking at 4200 rpm and 320 Nm of torque that's available at as low as 1500 rpm mated to a 7-speed dual clutch gearbox with a wet clutch setup. This drivetrain pushes in power to Audi's illustrous Quattro All-Wheel-Drive system which propells this car from a standstill to a 100 kmph in just 7.2 seconds (tested).

But what impresses me the most is how the power and torque is delivered to the ground. The rear biased all-wheel -drive system can push 60% torque to the rear wheels when the driver subjects it to hard cornering. This allows the 1700 kg wet weight SUV to take corners in a more lean fashion and less understeer. Something that is absolutely not present in the car of it's competition, namlely the BMW X1 and Mercedes Benz GLA, respectively with their petrol powered variants.


The gearbox too feels very smooth and shifts at any rpm with no jerks whatsoever. This car is the epitome of refinement and useability in every condition. In addition, as much as the suspension feels stiff around the corners, at slower speed, it is engineered very well to absorb smaller potholes and goes over speed humps very maturely.




This also is a very capable car to drive through water logged road in India becasue of the airbox which is installed higher up the ground. Unlike other german manufacturers, whose airboxes are prone to get blocked while driving through water logged streets and henceforth hydrolocking the vehcile to prevent any further damage. The Q3 is very much engineered for the India roads and the sad conditions that we have in tier 2 and 3 areas with road infrastructure.


What is even more impressive, is the fuel economy. in our hypermiling test, which we did on the western peripheral expressway around New Delhi, over the distance of 110 kms of driving, we achieved a fuel economy figure of 25 kmpl, and let me remind you, this car has no mild hybrid tech, no external electricals or cylinder deactivation system. A pure turbocharged petrol powered all-wheel-drive SUV for the family which can be as efficient as a Maruti Alto if you're branve enough. In the real world, the city fuel economy in our test was around 11 kmpl and on the highway with AC at low temperature setting and all passengers with bags, the Q3 returned 18.3 kmpl which is decent still.


Verdict




The Audi Q3 is capable of alluring all driving enthuiasts who are looking for something practical and easy to live with. It has all the bells and whistles you expect and this price point and everything inside the cabin is logically laid out. This is the king of ergonomics in the premium entry level SUV segment. It does not have complex things to make your daily commute confusing and it very comfortable to do long distance trips in too.


With Audi's much improved after sales service and customer support in addition to the great dealer level discounts that one can fetch on this car, it is an absolute bang for your back. This car turns you into a driving maniac, and no one can complain about it. A great car to live with amongst the tech heavy cars of 2024.



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