Audi Q3 long term review, 10,230km report
Published on Oct 20, 2023 12:00:00 PM
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The ‘wow factor’ of a car is a term we auto journos tend to overuse. But the fact is that it’s very often the wow factor that is the instant hook, the tipping point in a car-buying decision. But what is ‘wow factor’? Fundamentally, it’s the specs, features and design that, well, wows you. And that’s where our long-term Audi Q3 has a bit of a problem. It’s down on wow factor compared to the Mercedes-Benz GLA and the all-new BMW X1, and that’s a shame really. Why? Because the wow factor doesn’t go below the surface and has a superficiality about it. However, after living with the Audi Q3 for some months now, it’s clear that there’s far more to this compact luxury SUV than what meets the eye.
No spec sheet can tell you how well-suited a car is for its intended purpose, and it’s only after driving the Q3 that it sank in how well-conceived and finely judged this baby Audi is.
As a daily self-drive, the Q3 is perfectly sized for Mumbai streets, and you only realise the advantage of its compact size when you drive something bigger and lower like our long-term Skoda Superb, which, quite honestly feels more stressful to drive. Especially on my route to the office: I have to tackle Central Mumbai’s notorious Saat Rasta where cars, bikes, handcarts, buses and every possible wheeled vehicle shoot out of seven lanes to converge on the same piece of tarmac. It’s in situations like these that the Q3’s compact size and high seat is an absolute boon.
Living with the Q3 has also convinced me that the 2-litre TFSI allied to the smooth shifting 7-speed DSG twin-clutch transmission is the sweetest powertrain in its class. This is where the Q3 has an edge over both the GLA and X1 whose smaller capacity engines don’t feel anywhere near as refined or effortless. A quick trip to Pune in pouring rain was enough to prove how capable the Q3 is on the highway as well. The expensive Quattro system may seem unnecessary, and in most scenarios it is. But on a soaking wet and hazardous expressway infested with trucks with no lights, Altos hogging the slow lane and patches of standing water, you realise the value of having all your wheels driven. For the better part, you don’t know if the Quattro system is working, but what you get is tremendous confidence driving in adverse conditions. There is little doubt that the Q3 doubles up as a fantastic highway car, and the bonus is a boot that’s large enough to take two big suitcases and a few small bags; enough for a small family going out on the weekend. In fact, the Q3’s boot was put to good use for numerous airport trips and not once did I need to remove the parcel tray.
I have to admit that for all the months we’ve had the Q3, I’ve only sat in the back seat once. With the front passenger seat moved forward, there’s enough legroom behind it, and for my height (5ft 6in), headroom wasn’t an issue either. But the back seat isn’t that generous, and this isn’t a car to be chauffeur-driven in, for that you need to look at the Q5 at least.
It’s hard to find fault with the Q3 until you start looking around the cabin. Trouble is that when I slip back inside the Q3 after every new luxury car launch, I realise how dated the cabin feels. The infotainment system, which is quite basic by class standards, now looks and feels a generation behind. It’s embarrassing (for Audi) that the Q3 doesn’t have wireless Apple CarPlay when models from its lesser sibling Skoda have. Okay, it’s not such an inconvenience if you leave a lightning cable permanently plugged into the type C USB slot, but it’s just an untidy way to get connected.
Glitches? An appetite for engine oil, if you can call that a glitch. Around the 10,000km mark, the low engine oil light came on, which is exactly what happened with our long-term VW Tiguan (as reported in July 2021) with the same EA888 engine. Long-term cars come and go, but I must confess I was unhappy to return the Q3. I just fell in love with its versatility and easy-going nature. For my every day commute, it’s been the perfect car for me.
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