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Shanghai show: Audi lobs official Q3 pics

Compact Q3: The latest addition to Audi's successful SUV range will arrive here next year.

Audi confirms Q3 crossover for Oz early next year as official pics, details emerge

13 Apr 2011

AUDI has released official photos and information of its Q3 compact SUV, while confirming that the BMW X1 rival will join Audi’s top-selling Q5 and Q7 luxury SUV line-up in Australian showrooms in the first half of 2012.

The news comes just days after the company issued the first teaser sketches ahead of next week’s Shanghai motor show, where the Q3 will make its world debut in production form in readiness for a June release in Europe.

Although Audi Australia will not confirm local pricing and specifications, the German-market entry price of €29,900 ($A41,454) is equivalent to its X1 competitor – which starts at $46,100 here – and slightly lower than the prices announced for the forthcoming Range Rover Evoque.

Official photos show that the Q3 has retained the angular headlights revealed in last week’s teaser sketch and that the production model bears a remarkable resemblance to the Audi Cross Coupe Quattro concept from the 2007 Shanghai show, although it has lost the coupe-style roofline.

At 4385mm long, the Q3 is 83mm longer than the related A3 Sportback and 69mm shorter than the X1. At 2019mm mirror to mirror, it is 13mm wider than its BMW adversary.

To keep weight down – Audi claims the front-drive entry-level model weighs less than 1500kg – the bonnet and tailgate are aluminium, while ultra-high-strength steel is employed in the construction of the passenger compartment.

The interior exhibits Audi’s latest thinking in cockpit design, incorporating the wrap-around effect of the dash meeting the door trims – taken from the brand’s larger models – and an A1-style flip-up colour screen in the centre – a first for any Q-badged Audi.

7 center imageThe Ingoldstadt-based luxury brand claims the controls are intuitive and user-friendly, and the cabin can be themed in black, grey, beige or brown, decorated with a choice of inlays including open-pored larch and 3D-look aluminium wire mesh.

As is the way with European premium vehicles, the Q3 will be available with a considerable list of options including an ambient lighting package comprising “a great many LEDs”, panoramic glass roof, power-adjustable and heated seats, keyless entry and start, dual-zone climate control, privacy glass, adaptive Xenon plus headlights and high-beam assist.

A hard drive-based satellite navigation system and Bose surround sound system – with illuminated woofers – will keep gadget enthusiasts happy until what Audi describes as an “online Bluetooth car phone” emerges later, paired with an A8-style wireless internet hotspot that will also enable Google Earth mapping and live traffic information.

Although the Q3’s steeply-raked tailgate suggests packaging geared towards fashion rather than function, its claimed boot capacity ranges from 460 litres to 1365 litres with the split rear seats folded.

That beats the X1’s maximum by 15 litres, although with the BMW’s rear backrests set to almost upright, its 360-litre seats-up capacity increases to an Audi-beating 480 litres.

The Volkswagen Tiguan on which the Q3 is based can offer only 395 litres with the seats up, although this expands to a more substantial 1510 litres with the seats down. Audi further expands load-carrying potential with the standard inclusion of roof rails and the option of a folding front-passenger seat for carrying longer items.

External customisation options come in the form of contrast-colour ‘anthracite grey’ wheel arches and under-body guard for a more rugged off-road look, while the S-line package is predictably more sports-oriented.

Audi’s Drive Select is a further option that adjusts the throttle, brake and steering response depending on whether the driver selects auto, comfort, dynamic and efficiency mode. The latter activates fuel-saving measures in the cruise control, air-conditioning and where fitted, disengages a clutch in the S-tronic gearbox when coasting.

The Q3 will be powered by an all four-cylinder engine line-up, with the 103kW 2-litre diesel base model with front-wheel drive claimed to return sub-5.2 litres per 100 kilometres fuel consumption.

All other models, including a 130kW diesel and two 2.0-litre petrol units producing 125kw and 155kW will have Quattro permanent all-wheel drive, with the latter achieving the sprint to 100km/h in a claimed 6.9 seconds.

The lower-powered petrol and diesel models are mated to a six-speed manual transmission while the high-output versions are coupled with a seven-speed dual-clutch ‘S-tronic’ gearbox.

Audi claims its Q3 will be the sportiest competitor in its segment, saying the chassis – which employs four-link rear suspension and electromechanical power steering – “combines outstanding safety with excellent comfort and is well-balanced and harmonious”.

The Q3’s 170mm ground clearance trumps the X1 by 25mm to give it added off-road credentials while on-road safety technology includes blind spot monitoring and ‘active lane assist’ – which detects the driver veering off-course and gently corrects the steering – plus a camera that detects and displays speed-limit signs on the dashboard.

Aimed at helping Q3 drivers in the urban environment for which it is intended are five systems designed to help them park, including park assist, that does the steering for 90-degree or parallel spaces and uses 12 sensors to detect obstacles, which are memorised by the car and notified to the driver when they come to leave the parking space.

As GoAuto has reported, the debut of major German luxury models such as the Q3, Mercedes-Benz A-class and BMW M5 at the Shanghai show is indicative of the importance manufacturers are placing on this emerging and fast-growing market.

Audi sold 64,122 vehicles in China and Hong Kong – 51,951 of which were Chinese built – in the first quarter of 2011 – a 24.6 per cent increase on the same period last year.

Its target in China for the year is a record 280,000 vehicles and plans are afoot to expand Audi’s Chinese retail network from 174 to more than 400 dealers by the end of 2013.

While Australian Audi sales pale in significance compared with the Chinese figure, the brand is going great guns Down Under, up 16.5 per cent year-to-date with 4323 sales. After the A4, the Q5 SUV is the brand’s second-best seller here and the more affordable Q3 is likely to be met with similar – if not greater – success.

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