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First drive: Audi Q3



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There have been plenty of headlines and fuss about a UK-based 4x4 manufacturer’s launch of a prestige small SUV just a couple of months ago.

It’s a great piece of kit, a car which will drive its maker’s sales skywards.

It already has a problem, though. Audi has just launched its own prestige small SUV, the Q3.

It really is a fantastic car too – a clear rival to the Evoque – and it significantly undercuts its British-built competitor on entry price.

And while that price can rise significantly on plundering the options packs, so can that of the Evoque.

To some, the Q3’s weakness will be the proliferation of the Audi brand.

They may see buying into a brand which sells three cars in the UK for every one sold here by Land Rover as simply not exclusive enough.

But Audi is not ashamed of its growth, nor is it short of demand. Q3 is now the 38th model in its range.

Audi UK expects to sell 8,500 Q3s in a full year.

Some of these buyers are expected to already be Audi customers, typically coming out of A4 Avant or A3 Sportback, but around a third are hoped to be won over from other brands.

Either way, prospective buyers will be impressed with its driving experience, as it is an extremely comfortable, high quality compact SUV.

It rides beautifully thanks to its supple suspension and occupants will be more than content with its cabin space and finish.

The extensive equipment befits a premium segment SUV. Highlights of the base SE model include dual-zone climate control, 6.5in colour monitor, Bluetooth, electronic handbrake, Audi’s MMI multimedia interface, auto wipers and lights and rear parking sensors.

All cars have stop-start engine technology, plus come from the factory prepared for retro-fit SD card sat-nav.

The range-topping S Line trim, a £2,750 premium, has larger alloys, xenon lights, part leather upholstery and dynamic suspension.

Important for its company car sales is the imminent addition of a front-wheel drive Q3, which has a 2.0-litre diesel engine and keeps CO2 emissions down to 138g/km. It reaches showrooms in December.

All other Q3s have Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive for on-road stability and traction, including the other diesel available from next month, with 175bhp, which still keeps emissions below the 160g/km mark, crucial for corporate appeal and affordability. It is expected to be most in demand, taking 50% of sales.

A 2.0-litre petrol version, with either 168bhp or 209bhp, completes the range, but these are expected to account for only 20% of demand. The lesser powered one is the cheapest Q3.

All in all, Q3 is a superb addition to a line-up which is already putting Audi onto more motorists consideration lists than ever before.

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