2022 Audi Q3 first drive review: A potential best-seller?
Meet the new Audi Q3. Well, kind-of new. You see, this is the second generation car — which replaces the first gen we used to have on sale in India all those years ago. But… this car was unveiled internationally in 2018. Back in the day, the Q3 was a best-seller for Audi which really makes me wonder what took it so long to bring this new-gen car here. Audi attempted to cash in on on the Q2, but it never garnered the sort of interest or demand that the Q3 managed. So here we are — a new Q3 that shakes things up significantly from what we knew about it before. Its new both on the face of it and under the skin. An all-new car, in all respects. And new cars, even kind-of new ones, get me excited.
2022 Audi Q3 styling and dimensions
We’ll get to the driving but before that let’s talk styling because its so far removed from the older Q3. It’s sharper, more aggressive, more contemporary. The face is now unmistakably Audi — the typical octagonal grille, with these vertical slats on it. The lights too, with neat looking DRLs. I love the silver accents — they aren’t chrome. They have a satin-y finish and break up the design nicely without being overly blingy. Mind you, the Q3 doesn’t get the fancy Matrix lights but regular LED headlamps. The 18-inchers are too bland for my taste, but I do like the body coloured cladding. It continues to look sharp at the rear — sharp tail lamps, fancy DRL elements in them, and more of that satin finish at the bottom.
That said, it looks mean. Aggressive. Exactly what people expect of their SUVs. There’s more than a hint of Q8 in there, particularly when you look at its stance and proportions. Not a bad place to take inspiration from, eh? The Q3 is now 96mm longer than before, and the wheelbase is up by 77mm. It is wider too, by 18mm and all of this doesn’t make too much of a difference on the outside but should made it a little more spacious inside.
2022 Audi Q3 interiors and features
I settle in behind the wheel. Familiarity smacks me in the face. The steering wheel, virtual cockpit system, the infotainment screen — all reminiscent of other modern Audis. That’s a good thing — it doesn’t make the new-ish Q3 feel its age. it feels perfectly contemporary. What I really like is that it doesn’t get the second touchscreen below the first for the HVAC controls, and instead gets physical dials. It was probably done as a cost-saving measure but it has real ergonomic benefits as well. It’s well loaded — wireless phone charger, a panoramic sunroof and two-zone climate control. I do wish it had ventilated seats and wireless connectivity for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, though. No going back once you get used to them!
What about the rear seat, though? Can the Q3 live up to its luxury car intentions? Well, for starters space is generous — there’s more than adequate knee room and headroom. The wheelbase has grown compared to the previous Q3 and this makes the rear seat more comfortable. Interestingly, the rear bench of the Q3 slides on rails — 150mm back and forth — and this allows you to make more room in the boot should you need it. The Q3 is marginally wider than before but it is best left for two people in the back, since there is a transmission tunnel for the AWD system that eats in to foot space. This is a backseat that isn’t particularly lavish but it is spacious enough to be chauffeur driven around in without complains.
2022 Audi Q3 engine and performance
Thumb the starter and the petrol engine fires to life. More familiarity — the 2-litre TFSI engine that is on so many other Audis and Group cars is what is under the hood. That much loved TDI engine that the Q3 had, well, it isn’t retuning — we knew that what with Audi’s petrol-only strategy for India. The TSI engine feels typical Audi, though. Refined and quiet, it fits just right with the Q3’s entry level luxury positioning, offering a near silent experience when you’re gentle with the throttle. Should you choose to hustle it though, the engine more than obliges. It is quick, punchy and brimming with character. Performance is more than adequate, and this is an engine that enjoys being pulled to its redline. The motor’s note has a hint of naughtiness to it, just enough to keep you entertained on the inside without bothering anyone on the outside. Add to that a snappy 7-speed DCT transmission and quattro, and you have a drivetrain that remains energetic, urging you to get a move on.
2022 Audi Q3 ride and handling
The ride quality was another impressive bit. Based on the MQB platform now, it draws a lot of its character from the bigger SUVs in Audi’s range. The Q7, the Q5 — they remain the benchmark in their segments when it comes to ride quality and the Q3 follows in that vein. It rides beautifully over our roads, soaking up nearly everything that comes its way. There’s a certain sophistication that has been inculcated in to the Q3’s ride that wasn’t there before, and that is precisely what makes it feel so grown up. However, in the same breath I must mention that the Q3 gets steel springs and non dynamic dampers, which is par for the course. They offer no adjustability like air suspension or dynamic dampers would, and that means certain bumps are felt in the cabin, but it is never uncomfortable.
What I really didn’t expect was for the handling to blow me away. Tall car, primarily FWD, no trick dampers to tighten things up — should be boring right? Not if Audi has anything to say about it!
The Q3 genuinely blew me away with how well it went around corners. The steering felt crisp, dialled in and communicative. The turn in was sharp. The Q3 felt eager, like a playful puppy dog, when being chucked around — constantly asking for more and more from the driver. You can really commit to corners here. With competent Michelin rubber on it, grip around bends was much better than I anticipated and the car makes it easy to guide it through corners the way you’d like to. Understeer sets in quite late. If it wasn’t for how high I was sitting, I would have thought I was in a quick hatchback and not a crossover with the way it was behaving around bends. And unlike its rivals, the Q3 gets AWD as standard — powering out of corners is drama free. In Dynamic mode, the steering gets heavier and the drivetrain sharper leaving you with a compact SUV that can really, truly hustle.
2022 Audi Q3 verdict and price
Overall, the Q3 is a very impressive package. It does so much right — looking good, feeling expensive, being comfortable and yet engaging to drive all at the same time. It genuinely feels like a proper all-rounder, with very little to criticise. Then you look at the price tag — Rs 50.4 lakh (ex-showroom) for this fully kitted out Technology trip. That is expensive, Rs 1.5 lakh more so than the diesel / AWD Mercedes-Benz GLA even, and Rs 5 lakh more than the fully kitted out Volvo XC40 and BMW X1. The Q3 then, isn’t value for money. But what it manages to do is bring you the experience of much bigger SUVs in the range, at a much more affordable price point. That is not something you can say about its rivals.