Audi has launched the top end variant of its best-selling SUV, the Q3; and this German automobile manufacturer flew a bunch of journos down to the Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore so that we could see for ourselves what it was all about. So there we were at the race track in the middle of nowhere on a blistering hot day standing in front of the new car, the Audi Q3 Dynamic. The organisers had created an off-road trail a little away from the main track and it consisted of a rock bed, a steep incline and an even steeper descent, troughs and hills that would demonstrate how well the wheels could articulate and more.
The USP of this new version of the Q3 is the Audi Drive Select feature which allows the driver to switch between Comfort, Auto and Dynamic driving modes. The comfort mode is self explanatory as it makes the suspension pliant and the throttle response and gear shifts softer, so as to make the ride quality as yielding as possible. This mode is perfect for burbling around in city traffic while listening to your favourite RJ on the radio!
Turn the beautifully knurled aluminium knob in the centre console to put the car in Dynamic mode and everything gets firmed up and the car responds to inputs more rapidly. While blasting along highways or twisty mountain roads, this is the mode to be in. The Auto mode simply puts the electronic brain of the car in charge and it decides which mode to use depending on several factors. We did every test twice, once in Comfort and once again in Dynamic; and while the difference is subtle, it does change the way in which the car behaves.
Despite not being a full on off-roader, the Q3 Dynamic performed admirably on the rough stuff. The Quattro system enabled this car to quite effortlessly tackle terrain that was more punishing than what any owner in their right mind would drive on! After some proper tripod action on the off-road trail with one wheel hanging well over a metre in the air (which gave a queasiness in your stomach for fear of turning turtle, albeit being immensely enjoyable!), we made our way onto the track and this was where we really felt the difference the Dynamic mode created.
Out on the slalom course, there was a bit of roll in Comfort mode due to the soft suspension and sharp steering inputs but it was better than expected, especially since this vehicle is not a low riding supercar. But in Dynamic mode, the Q3 held true, body roll was significantly lower and avoiding the cones did not require a lot of effort. The steering is still a bit wooden but not excessively so and overall, the Q3 Dynamic is good fun to drive.
From the outside, there are only understated ways to differentiate between the standard and the Dynamic versions of the Audi Q3. The Q3 Dynamic gets clear lens tail lamp clusters, skid plates, a new paint colour called Florett Silver and 17 inch alloys. Step inside and, no matter how many times you have been in an Audi, the build quality just bowls you over. Every single component is rock solid and feels like they will outlast the apocalypse. Even the power window switches have brushed aluminium surrounds for that premium feel. The panoramic sunroof is another marvellous feature included in this car and the sound system is of excellent quality.
Pop open the bonnet of the Q3 Dynamic and you will find a 2.0 litre, 4 cylinder, turbocharged diesel engine that produces 175 bhp coupled to a 7 speed, double clutch, automatic transmission. The car gets a generous amount of features as well, including LED ambient interior illumination, electrically adjustable front seats, climate control, a navigation module, a cooled glove box, wood panelling and so on.
This car will have competition from the Mercedes-Benz GLA soon but it must be noted that the GLA is a front wheel drive car and therefore, has to stick to tarmac. The Q3 Dynamic is an SUV that can do a shopping run in the city as well as a surprisingly good amount of mud plugging. As far as versatility is concerned, the Q3 comes out on top and best of all, this top-of-the-line variant will cost you something in the ballpark of INR 40 lakhs. All things considered, Audi seems to have this one in the bag.
Photography - Pranav Divakar