Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Volvo have chosen the hatchback route for the entry-level car for their brands, while Audi has chosen the other route. The Ingolstadt-based German manufacturer believes that the luxury car segment isn’t about hatchback atleast for the Indian market and it has introduced a stripped-down or corporate edition of its existing Q3. We get our hands on this new variant from Audi and tell you, whether it is worth considering or should you stick to luxury hatchbacks. Read further as we share our detailed review.
The Audi Q3 S is the stripped-down version and it shows. It doesn’t get the signature LED headlamps that Audis are generally known for. What it gets instead is a basic set of headlamps with the conventional bulbs and even the day-time running lamps are bulbs, something like the Volkswagen Jetta. This model targets the youth, hence it is available in bright colours. Our press demonstrator was bright red in colour, somewhat similar to that on the Polo. The front grille and the bonnet remains the same. However, there are round fog lamps.
The silhouette remains unchanged too, but at the same time it gets sporty matte-black alloy wheels. The Audi Q3S does look a lot trendier, fashionable than classy with these alloys and the colours it is available in. This is what the youth want and the Q3 S delivers to its target audience. The tail lamps also loose out the LEDs. It is the conventional bulbs that are used on the Q3 S also.
This is where Audi has ensured it retains most of the features. The interior quality, plastics, leather, the fit and finish everything is like any other Audi and the Ingolstadt-based manufacturer has maintained the same standard. As this is the stripped down version, it does loose out features and it is obvious as the price tag has reduced.
What the Q3 S misses out are reverse parking camera, satellite navigation, automatic climate control and even the music player is basic. This is perhaps the only vehicle to have manual AC knobs in the luxury vehicle segment. The space on the Q3 remains unchanged, which means the first row is still spacious with large and comfortable seats, while the second row is a bit tight for knee-room. The boot too is decently sized as well.
Engine and Transmission:
There has been a change in this department also. The Audi Q3 S has the same 2.0-litre TDI engine, however the power ratings are reduced. It now produces 140bhp of power and comes mated to a six-speed manual transmission. This is the only luxury car that is available with a manual transmission. This is the same powertrain that comes in on the Volkswagen Jetta/Skoda Yeti or the Skoda Octavia.
Get behind the wheel and you won’t feel that the power is insufficient at any time. There is some amount of turbo lag and the engine struggles to pull when under 1500rpm, but else it is fine. One will have to get used to shifting at a higher rpm. This can be an issue while driving in traffic, unless one has a chauffeur. Once you are out on the highway, there is no stopping. The engine doesn’t run out of breath. The power is more than sufficient. Another important feature that goes missing on the Q3S is the Quattro. This variant from Audi is a front-wheel drive and doesn’t get the company’s sophisticated all-wheel drive technology.
The manual transmission is slick and the shifts are positive. It doesn’t feel rubbery at any time, however the clutch is a bit too deep and when you commence motion, some extra throttle is needed else the car stalls. This makes it a bit difficult to drive in bumper-to-bumper traffic. We believe an automatic with lesser power could have done a better job. What really amazed us about this SUV and this drivetrain is its fuel efficiency. The Q3 S returned us an efficiency of about 15km/l when we were cruising on the inter-city highways. This is brilliant for a vehicle and engine of this size.
The underpinnings of the Audi Q3 S are unchanged; hence the driving characteristics of this SUV are still the same. The ride of the Q3S is actually a lot supple than the regular Q3 as it has higher-profile tyres, which means more rubber to absorb the road shocks and bumps. The suspension anyways does a good job, but now with more rubber to assist, the ride quality is amazing.
The handling too is almost the same, however we do miss out the Quattro technology, which meant better grip even in wet conditions. This could be something that will be missed on a rainy day or in snowy or slippery conditions. The steering wheel weighs up well as the speed of the Q3 S increases and there is no doubt that this drives well and sticks to the road, even at speeds in excess of 140km/hr.
The Audi Q3 S is a brilliant product for the price tag it is being offered at. It is spacious, frugal and has good driving dynamics. The downsides being lesser features and manual transmission, we believe you can consider this product if you are looking for something value for money than pure luxury. For instance, you can buy any laptop bag in the market, but if you need something premium you pick something like a HiDesign, which isn’t always as practical as your other laptop bags, but has leather and luxurious. The Q3S is definitely an Audi, but luxurious maybe not. It is definitely a good value for your money.