Over the past few weeks, Mercedes-Benz and BMW have been in the limelight for introducing Indian consumers to luxurious, high-end hatchbacks. While Mercedes has the first-mover advantage with the A-class, BMW is expected to launch its 1-series hatchback by September this year. Not to be left behind, the current luxury segment leader, Audi, has adopted a rather clever strategy to rival the other Germans’ offerings. Instead of joining the fight with its A3 Sportback, Audi is launching a ‘low-cost’ variant of its Q3, which will be priced along the lines of the aforementioned hatchbacks from Mercedes and BMW. Audi’s strategy hinges around the fact that the Q3, being an SUV, is bigger and offers better perceived value than the ‘smaller’ hatchbacks from Merc and BMW. Also, the preference of an SUV or SUV-like body style amongst Indian consumers further works in Audi’s favour.
The base Q3 sheds about Rs 3.5 lakh off its list price by stripping the car of the quattro all-wheel drive system as well as the DSG gearbox. This variant, called the Q3 Sport, will have its front wheels driven through a six-speed manual gearbox and the 2.0 TDI engine comes in a lower state of tune producing 140bhp (like on the A4) instead of the 177bhp the standard Q3 2.0 TDI makes. Also missing on the car will be Audi's trademark daytime running LED lamps.
That being said, Audi has left in the meat and potatoes by fitting the Q3 Sport with all the trappings a consumer expects from a luxury car. Features such as leather seats, cruise control, voice dialog system, climate control, MMI with Bluetooth connectivity and 18-inch alloy wheels amongst others, find their way on this budget variant. With most of the essential equipment list left intact on Audi’s ‘budget’ baby SUV, the carmaker might just have another winner on its hands.