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Hope that buffs out! New Audi Q3 prototype crashes during testing

The next iteration of Audi’s compact Q3 SUV appears to borrow styling details from the all-electric Q6 e-tron

It seems the stereotype about Audis and understeer isn’t unfounded, as our photographers captured the moment a prototype of the all-new third-generation Audi Q3 came off the road and landed in a ditch during testing.

The current model launched in 2018 so a replacement is due anytime now. We expect Audi will pull the covers off the next-generation Q3 towards the end of this year, or possibly in early 2025, ready for a showdown with premium family-car rivals like the BMW X1, Mercedes GLA and Alfa Romeo Tonale.

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The images taken before the new Q3’s failed escape into the wilderness do provide some details about the design, despite the camouflage. The front end has a more aggressive look than on the current model, provided by slimmer headlights and a wider, sleeker grille shape – not dissimilar to the new Audi Q6 e-tron in this respect.

We can also make out the individual segments of the LED headlights. The Q6 e-tron gets the same technology, with drivers able to customise the daytime running signature of these units, while another lower down handles dipped and high beam.

These images suggest the new Q3 will be longer than the out-going model, which should provide extra cabin space. To the rear we can see a fairly subtle roof spoiler and rear light clusters that are influenced by those of the new Q8 e-tron – possibly without the rear LED light bar that Audi currently likes to reserve for its EVs. 

The prototypes we’ve spotted so far are the standard 5-door SUV body style, but a more rakish, coupe-SUV called the Sportback should be part of the line-up as well.

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The new Q3 will be one of the last cars from Audi to come with an internal-combustion engine, including petrol, diesel and plug-in-powered setups. Those looking for an upmarket all-electric SUV from Audi will be taken care of by the similarly-sized and recently updated Audi Q4 e-tron.

The current Audi Q3 is offered with 1.5 and 2.0-litre TSI petrol engines, and a 2.0-litre TDI diesel motor. This new Q3 will probably feature a similar line-up, but select engines should benefit from 48-volt mild-hybrid technology to boost efficiency.

The new Q3 will probably borrow the plug-in hybrid powertrain from other Volkswagen Group SUVs like the latest VW Tiguan. The new Tiguan eHybrid features a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine and six-speed automatic gearbox, working together with a 113bhp electric motor and 19.7kWh battery. Equipped with the same running gear, the plug-in hybrid Q3 should offer over 60 miles of pure-electric range.  

We’ll keep our eyes peeled for a hot RS Q3 variant that will probably sit atop of the range once more and hopefully the test drivers of that performance version will take things a bit easier out on the roads. Pricing for the new Audi Q3 will most likely increase over the current car’s £34,325 starting price.

Now read our review of the Audi Q6 e-tron prototype...

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News reporter

As our news reporter, Ellis is responsible for covering everything new and exciting in the motoring world, from quirky quadricycles to luxury MPVs. He was previously the content editor for DrivingElectric and won the Newspress Automotive Journalist Rising Star award in 2022.

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