Audi’s lovable junior luxury SUV is back in second-gen form and it’s got a lot going for it.
The wait for the second-gen Audi Q3 has been so long that interested buyers’ questions evolved from “When is the new Q3 coming?” to “Is the new Q3 coming? Blame the pandemic, supply chain issues and all that we’ve been through over the last few years for the delay. Thankfully, all that’s in the past (fingers crossed) and Audi’s much loved junior SUV is now officially back in India in gen-2 avatar. What we’re itching to find out, however, is if it has the same widespread appeal as the original did.
2022 Audi Q3: design and styling
The new Q3 sports an edgy design, courtesy of the sharp headlamps and large hexagonal grille.
Blank out the badges and poll anyone with a passing interest in cars to name the model you’re with and you’ll find that nine out of ten times, the new Q3 will be correctly identified as a Q3. The upright nose, large glasshouse and raked rear windscreen help establish a clear visual link to the old one, though it’s just as easy to tell the new one is essentially a larger vehicle. It’s longer, wider and taller than the last model, and the wheelbase has grown as well. Mind you, like its chief rivals from Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Volvo, this is still no hulking SUV if that’s what you’re looking for.
5-spoke alloy wheels on the Q3 are low on glam quotient.
The new Q3 sports an edgy look helped in no small part by the sharply cut headlights that flank the Audi-typical massive hexagonal grille. Surfacing is tight and there are many details that you’ll only catch in the right light; details like the shoulder line, for instance, that flares delicately above the wheel arches. What just don’t work are the Plain Jane 18-inch wheels; a more glamorous design would do so much for the Q3’s overall look. At the rear, you’ll find wider and shapelier tail-lights amidst a familiar derriere.
2022 Audi Q3: interior and features
Not only is getting into a Q3 easy, it’s a car that also puts you at immediate ease. The good visibility and comfy front seats (they’re surprisingly large) count for a lot. You’ll also like the look of things inside the cabin. The dashboard, which angles the centre console towards the driver, lends the cabin an edgy and youthful look, and there’s, well, the right amount of screens too; no secondary touchscreen for the climate control system here. You adjust temperature and blower speed with lovely knurled knobs that operate with a satisfying click.
No touchscreen for climate control here. Knobs do the job.
It’s a well thought out interior too with lots of storage spaces for big and small items. And it all feels very robust, very high quality. Padded surfaces make up most of the dashboard and fit and finish is at par with pricier Audis. That said, the cabin doesn’t quite have the flash value of a Mercedes-Benz GLA that uses ambient lighting, for example, to greater effect. The same is true about the screens too. While the Virtual Cockpit digital dials are easy to refer to and the 10.1-inch touchscreen is nice to use, they aren’t quite as vibrant or configurable as the ones on the latest of rivals. The rear view camera isn’t the crispest either.
Displays aren’t as vibrant or configurable as rivals.
Talking features, the Audi Q3 does pack in quite a bit. LED headlights, powered front seats, dual-zone climate control, a panoramic sunroof, digital dials, a 10.1-inch touchscreen and configurable ambient lighting are part of the package. Safety kit includes 6 airbags, ESC and ISOFIX child seat mounts, but there are no ADAS functions.
2022 Audi Q3: rear seat space and comfort
An area where the Q3 is hugely improved is rear seat space. The 77mm longer wheelbase plays a big role here as does the move to the Volkswagen Group’s space efficient MQB platform. There’s enough kneeroom for six footers to sit in tandem, and the scooped out roof equals more than adequate headroom too. Also nice is the seating position, and the option to adjust the backrest angle is a plus too. However, the Q3’s rear seat is best suited for two.
Seating position is comfy even for six-footers, but the seat is best for two occupants only.
The short middle seat squab and high centre tunnel will make the fifth passenger feel like an unwanted guest. It’s best to leave the middle seat vacant and make the most of the well positioned armrest that also houses fold out cupholders. Another nifty inclusion at the back are phone holders besides the seats.
Space saver spare neatly placed under boot floor.
While the Q3 works best as a four-seater, the good thing is that it’s got the space to store everyone’s luggage. The gesture-controlled tailgate lifts to reveal a large (and class best) 530 litre luggage area, and should you need more space, the rear seats can be folded flat to form a larger cargo bed. What’s reassuring is that the Q3 comes with a standard fit space saver spare tyre that’s neatly tucked under the boot floor.
2022 Audi Q3: engine and performance
The Q3 is on offer in India with a single petrol engine option. The engine is the VW Group’s familiar 2-litre four-cylinder unit that makes a healthy 190hp and 320Nm – the latter being the best among petrol SUVs in the segment. What also helps distinguish the Q3 among its front wheel drive petrol rivals is standard fit Quattro all-wheel drive. You’ll like how all the pieces fit together.
There’s no diesel on offer, but 2.0 turbo-petrol delivers the punch you’d want.
The engine, for one, is very likable because it gives the impression of on-demand power. Part throttle responses at low speeds are very nice and even when you’re going faster there’s a very steady build of power. Press down a lot harder on the accelerator pedal though and both engine and gearbox come together to give you access to the strong mid-range and punchy performance you’d associate with turbo petrols. Experience this mid-range and you won’t really mind the absence of a diesel engine in the Q3 line-up. The accompanying soundtrack is also quite sporty.
The Q3 drives like a proper German car with excellent high speed poise.
There are driving modes to fine tune the experience, although you don’t need to play around too much to get the best out of the mechanicals. The gearbox is well in tune with what you want and you can speed things up by flicking it into sport mode, or using the paddleshifters.
2022 Audi Q3: ride and handling
The new Q3 backs the performance up with impressive high-speed manners. It drives like a proper German car feeling planted and surefooted at serious speeds. The Q3 is a tidy handler too. It changes direction smoothly and there’s good enough feel from the steering as well, but it’s the general poise that really stays with you. The Quattro system also plays its supporting role really well to deliver an all encompassing sensation of grip. The real advantage of the system, however, will come through in inclement weather or on loose and grimy surfaces where you’ll find that you’re able to drive the Q3 faster and more confidently than some of its pure front wheel drive rivals. Overall, the tight and punchy Q3 makes for a surprisingly entertaining companion on a day out to your favourite driving roads.
Quattro all-wheel drive gives confidence over loose surfaces.
The new Q3’s forte, however, much like the last-gen model, is how well it fits into everyday urban life. It’s easy to park, easy to steer and generally feels right-sized in our congested cities. Buyers who value these traits will find a great fit in the Q3. The other big highlight is ride comfort, something Audi seems to be acing off late. The meaty tyres absorb much of the initial blow and the well damped suspension takes care of the rest. On the worst of our roads too you’ll also appreciate the ground clearance on offer and the fact that the Audi doesn’t feel fragile.
2022 Audi Q3: price and verdict
The new Audi Q3 range starts at Rs 44.89 lakh (ex-showroom) for the Premium Plus trim, which is at par with rivals. However, this fully-loaded Rs 50.39 lakh Technology version is the priciest model in the segment. Factor in standard fit all-wheel drive and the prices do become more justifiable.
What’s clear is that the new Q3 isn’t lacking in content. It’s attractive outside and inside, it’s roomy for four and the enjoyable driving experience is a highlight. What only furthers the Q3’s case is how city-friendly it is. For many, that’s perhaps the biggest reason to consider one. The new Q3 has been a long time coming. But I’m happy to tell you it’s been worth the wait.