New 2018 Audi Q3: bigger, bolder SUV takes fight to BMW X1

New Audi Q3 SUV packs lots of tech and semi-autonomous features as it targets BMW X1 and Volvo XC40

Audi has revealed the second-generation Q3 SUV, a bigger, more practical, hi-tech version of one of the brand’s biggest-selling models.

The outgoing car was the oldest in the manufacturer’s SUV line-up, and Audi will be hoping the all-new model will be more competitive against rivals such as the BMW X1 and Volvo XC40 when deliveries start in November.

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At 4,485mm in length, the latest Q3 has grown by 97mm compared with its predecessor, and it’s 46mm longer than its main rival, the X1. The second-generation car is also 18mm wider and 5mm lower than before, while the wheelbase has been stretched by 78mm – a move which, Audi claims, has allowed it to improve knee, head and elbowroom for those inside.

The new Q3 bears an obvious resemblance to its predecessor, but takes on a sharper, more contemporary design. Audi’s single-frame grille sits on the nose, a huge space that is broken up by eight vertical chrome strips. The flanks feature more pronounced haunches, while the tail-lights are slimmer and wider than before.

Standard equipment includes 17 or 18-inch alloy wheels and LED headlights, but 20-inch rims are optional, as are smart LED Matrix lamps, which can adjust themselves so that they do not dazzle other road users.

Now based on the Volkswagen Group’s MQB platform, which underpins the Q2 SUV and A3 hatch, the Q3 is being launched with a choice of one diesel and three petrol engines. These all adopt the German brand’s new numbered naming system. The range kicks off with the 35 TFSI, a 148bhp 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol unit with 250Nm of torque. Above that sit the 187bhp 40 TFSI and the 227bhp 45 TFSI, both of which are based on a larger 2.0-litre unit.

The single diesel option will be another 2.0-litre in the 35 TDI. This motor produces 148bhp, although a 187bhp version of the same engine will join the range later on.

All of the petrol models will be launched with an automatic gearbox, but the 35 TFSI will be available with a six-speed manual at a later date. Both 35 TFSI and TDI units are front-wheel drive only, while the 2.0-litre petrols are equipped with quattro all-wheel drive.

It might be one of Audi’s smaller SUVs, but the Q3 is crammed with a raft of new tech. The dash is dominated by a touchscreen infotainment system, measuring either 8.8 or 10.1 inches, depending on the trim level. It looks much neater than the old model’s button-heavy centre console.

The larger of the two screens features Google 3D mapping, and a built-in LTE broadband connection lets the Q3 benefit from what’s known as ‘swarm intelligence’. This tech allows similarly-equipped cars to communicate with one another, relaying to the driver the likely availability of parking spaces, or even providing warnings about approaching hazards such as fog or black ice.

Other safety tech includes Adaptive Cruise assist. Available only with cars featuring an automatic gearbox, this system semi-autonomously controls the Q3’s steering, braking and acceleration for short periods to take the strain out of long journeys.

The Q3’s old analogue dials have been ditched, replaced by a fully-digital display that measures 10.25 inches. There’s the option to upgrade this to a larger 12.3-inch set-up, which is the same size as the systems used by the A4 and TT.

Audi says practicality has been improved by the inclusion of a sliding rear bench, which can move fore and aft by 150mm to prioritise either rear legroom or boot capacity.

Even in its rearmost position, it allows for 530 litres of storage, but that grows to 675 litres with the seats forward. Both of these figures eclipse the 420 litres in the old car, plus the X1’s 505-litre boot. The rear seatbacks tilt for passenger comfort, and split three ways when folding. With the backrest laid down flat, the Q3’s total load space grows to 1,525 litres.

The old Q3 came under fire for being too firm, but Audi claims it will deliver a smoother ride this time, and not at the expense of handling or agility. Optional adaptive dampers should allow the driver to find an ideal set-up, while S line models come with sports suspension and variable-ratio steering fitted.

Prices have yet to be confirmed for the second-generation model, but expect to pay around £28,000 for the entry-level 35 TFSI.

Do you like the look of the new Audi Q3? Let us know in the comments section below...

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