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Audi Q3: Cross-over or off-roader?

The Audi Q3 is the third car that Audi have developed for its Q-badged range. It is a small SUV that's designed to compete with premium off-roaders like the BMW X1 and the Range Rover Evoque. When it was launched in 2011 critics were divided. Some saw it as a cross-over vehicle, whilst others saw it as the latest in the long line of Audi Quattros.

    By Thomas doerfer (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)]
  • via Wikimedia Commons

Quattro

Some critics claim that the Audi Q3 is too small to be a true off-road vehicle and some reviewers refer to the car as a cross-over. But the Q3’s pedigree should not be ignored. The Q3 is equipped with Audi’s renowned four-wheel drive Quattro technology which manages the car’s power delivery at each wheel for superior handling and exceptional grip.

Off-Road

At 170 mm, the Q3’s ground clearance is high enough to allow it to traverse small streams without damaging the underside and the car is fitted with an electronic stability program (EPS) that keeps it under control in the most extreme conditions.

On-Road

One of the major drawbacks of an SUV is fuel economy. To combat this all Q3s have Stop-Start technology. The fuel that other cars burn whilst in traffic is saved in the Q3, as the system automatically shuts the engine down and the CO2 gases other cars emit whilst at a standstill are not produced, which helps to reduce emissions.

Recuperation technologies are also used to save fuel. Every time the car brakes, the kinetic energy produced is stored as electrical energy in the car’s battery. When the Q3 accelerates the stored electrical energy is used. Audi claim that this system can produce fuel savings of up to 3 percent.

Final word

With a starting price of £24,560 the Audi Q3 needs to be impressive and with competition from BMW and Range Rover, it needs to be able to appeal to serious off-roaders. Thankfully Audi have got the right mix of off-road ability and on-road performance. It's quiet, smooth and yet punchy through the rev range on road and is capable off-road because of the Quattro system and its high ride height.

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