Published on March 9th, 2020 | by Subhash Nair0
Audi Q3 1.4 TFSI Review: A Clean, Techy Crossover
The compact crossover segment is a juicy one for the premium segment. This is a relatively new segment for all car manufacturers, with many carmakers introducing all-new nameplates just to fill it. For premium brands like Audi, this segment represents a new way for potential customers to sample the brand. As such, they tend to deliver a consistent brand feel in a much smaller package. For Audi, these qualities are ergonomics, good use of technology, build quality, clean design and surgical performance.
Let’s start with Ergonomics
The Audi Q3 is one of the biggest in the segment. In almost every direction it’s impressive for this segment. What’s more it holds the most luggage with the rear seats up and has the most usable rear row of seats. The XC40 comes a little close to the Q3 in these regards, but the Audi has equal if not better ergonomics for occupants overall.
Feet and legs rest comfortably and there’s enough room for 4 adults to be transported around at complete ease. While the XC40 rethinks cabin design to deliver a more usable cabin, the Q3 does a similar job without reinventing the wheel. It’s impressive that it comes so naturally to Audi, but this is what the brand exceeds at with most of their product line.
Good use of Technology
In this segment, technology plays a very important role. People want to be wowwed by in-car gadgets. While no manufacturer is significantly behind (besides the aging Mercedes-Benz, who already have a replacement GLA on the way), the Audi is the only one that seems to have a real understanding of how to amaze with the tech. There are 3 or 4 little things that impress here.
First of all, the 10.25” Virtual Cockpit and 10.1” widescreen infotainment unit are both extremely impressive. They’re so well integrated into driving experience. In-car data and Google Maps integration makes it easy to use the on-board navigation system.
But it’s more than just a numbers game when it comes to technological superiority. We all know Apple makes a more seamless and intuitive user experience even if their products are technically inferior to flagship Android phones. In a similar way, Audi’s understanding of the technology is what makes it superior to others in the premium segment. Controls are perfectly placed and become an extension of the user experience. Controls that require fine tuning get knobs, those with a few options get buttons. It’s all so perfect.
Aesthetically, too there’s something to be said about Audi’s implementation of technology. Take the headlight control switch. As your finger approaches the button, it lights up. As your finger makes contact with the button, the options are shown on the instrument cluster. There’s so much magic happening before you even press the button and it’s not even a button that needs to be fiddled with once it has been set on Auto.
Build Quality and Clean Design
For those who are into the minimalist, clean aesthetic that Audi have been associated with for decades, the Q3 will not disappoint. Unlike previous generations of Audi vehicles, this current Q3 makes very good use of materials and textures.
The grille paint finish and trim pieces are particularly interesting to look at. They give the harsh angles a bit more character than one would expect. The Pulse Orange exterior body colour gives the otherwise sombre Q3 some interesting character.
There’s also a level of intricacy to the design that helps it elevate whatever environment it is parked in. It’s the sort of car that fits rights into a multi-million ringgit modernist mansion. Perhaps not as the primary car, but as the runabout or secondary vehicle.
Inside, the cabin is as well put together as ever. Barely any panel moves when pressure is applied, buttons have a real weight and tactile click to them, and nothing feels cheap. There’s also something about the asymmetry that’s appreciable – you know it costs Audi more to have every air vent uniquely moulded.
The Q3 actually handles extremely well. Just enough feedback from the tyres comes through, but harshness is absorbed by the chassis. Steering weight is typical of Audi – weighted, but not enough to incur fatigue. It’s all very surgical and consistent with the way most of the car’s front-wheel drive vehicles perform. That being said, a couple of things take one out of the ‘premium’ experience. First is the top-hinged accelerator pedal that seems to be a part of the MQB platform. The second is the lack of torque at the low end of the rev range from the 1.4 TFSI engine.
Value is a bit of an issue for the Q3. In this segment, the Q3 is essentially the toughest pill to swallow at RM269,900. At around this price, rivals Mercedes-Benz and Volvo offer all-wheel drive and MUCH more power. Both of these rivals do the century sprint more than 2 seconds faster than the Audi. What’s more, the Lexus and Volvo offer active safety and active cruise control functionality. The Bimmer? Well that’s just a whole lot cheaper than the Q3, so it doesn’t really matter what it lacks as a package.
What’s really problematic for the Q3 is the 1.4-litre engine under the hood. While it is powerful enough and definitely impressive for a motor of its displacement, there are downsides to it. Typical of smaller displacement engines, torque has to be summoned and only comes when you’re up in the middle of the rev range. Audi’s ‘Auto’ Drive Select mode isn’t quite quick enough to wake things up in a split second and that may be a bit of a problem when you compare the Q3 to how its direct rivals behave. And in ‘Dynamic’ mode, it’s just too eager and jarring. A less high-strung 2-litre engine would have fit this vehicle much better, but that would push its pricing way beyond what is reasonable. As it stands, the Q3 manages to still impress in certain aspects and justify its pricing.
Audi Q3 1.4 TFSI Specifications
Engine: Inline 4, 16-Valve, DOHC, Petrol
Gearbox: 6-speed S-tronic Dual Clutch (wet) Automatic
Max power: 147hp @ 5000rpm
Max torque: 250Nm @ 1500rpm
Top Speed: 207km/h
0-100 km/h: 8.9 seconds