THE Audi family continues to grow with its latest arrival being the Q3 – a small sports SUV.
The German prestige brand now has 36 models as it heads towards a full house of 42 and sales continue to grow.
Jon Zammett, head of Audi UK’s public relations team, summed up the company’s position in the car industry at the Q3 launch when he said: “We have gone from an emerging brand to a mature brand.
“Q3 brings Audi up to 12 new models in the last five years, in areas we didn’t compete in.”
One thing you are guaranteed with an Audi is quality and there is no lack of this in the Q3.
It needs this as one of its main rivals in this premium segment is the excellent Range Rover Evoque.
I didn’t get the chance to drive the Q3 off road but its on-road handling and performance are at least as good as the Evoque’s.
It has a powerful and stylish stance with its coupe-like roofline and wrap-around rear.
There are just two trims to choose from – SE and S Line – and arrives this month with three turbocharged engines, 2-litre 208bhp and168bhp petrol and a 2-litre 175bhp diesel.
These are all quattro models but two-wheel versions with a 2-litre 138bhp diesel unit are due in December.
The Q3 offers a high-seating position and the rear seats are roomy enough to take three adults.
I had a chance to sample three SE models before they went on sale and was impressed by the high-quality interior trim.
My first drive was in the diesel model and that was my favourite. There was plenty of low and mid-range power in the model mated with the superb seven-speed S-tronic dual clutch automatic gearbox.
I sampled the six-speed manual transmission on the 168bhp petrol model and although it was smooth and slick enough at changes, I cannot really see why anyone wouldn’t go for the auto box.
Handling in all models was excellent on a sometimes hilly, winding route and ride comfort good as well.
All models come with Stop/Start technology and the most efficient will be the front-wheel drive 2-litre 138bhp when it arrives – offering 54.3mpg.
Standard equipment levels are high and in SE include 17-inch alloy wheels, radio with 6.5-inch flip screen, leather multi-function steering wheel, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth interface, aluminium window trims and roof rails.
S Line upgrade costs £2,750 and this includes items such as 18-inch alloys, S Line exterior and interior enhancements, xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lamps and LED rear lights.
There is a large luggage space of 460 litres and this grows to 1,365 when the split rear seats are folded.
Audi has entered a fast-expanding sector and an early drive of Q3 models indicates they are well up to the task of gaining a large slice of the sales.
Diesel models should account for 50 per cent Q3 sales with on-the-road prices ranging from £24,560 to £31,360.