THE battle for supremacy in the premium compact 4x4 SUV market has intensified following the launch of the new Audi Q3 shortly after the new Land Rover Evoque entered the fray writes Bryan Longworth.
This means there are now three contenders in this market sector with BMW’s X1 being the other rival although the two new arrivals from Audi and Land Rover are set to be the major players initially.
The Q3 has got off to a good start for leading residual value experts CAP have stated that the Audi will have the lower depreciation of all three contenders and also lowest running costs which is a big boost for the Q3 that goes on sale this month starting at £24,560 on the road.
Q3 will start with four engines being available, two petrol and two diesel, and the S tronic automatic transmission now has a clutch that is disengaged during coasting phases to reduce draw on the engine.
In December there will be an efficiency focused diesel model with front wheel drive that will produce over 54mpg - all other models have quattro four wheel drive.
Q3 is the smallest of the three car Q range and it has purposeful styling giving it plenty of street appeal - the car attracted a lot of attention when it was parked during the Press launch on the North York Moors around Whitby.
Inside there is room for five with a reasonably sized boot with a nice high driving position that offers the driver a commanding view of the road ahead.
It is expected that diesel engines will be by far the most popular which was why I concentrated on the model with a 2.0-litre 177bhp engine for most of the moorland route where it displayed excellent roadholding and handling qualities.
I was particularly impressed by the steering which like most Audi cars was very precise and the ease of entry and exit from the car that will suit older owners in particular and in a bit of off-roading on the moors the Q3 also performed admirably.
This was followed by a drive in one of the petrol engined models which was alright and will have considerable appeal but it did not impress as much as the diesel Q3 although the price will be less and therefore more appealing for potential owners wanting the Audi experience.
The Q3 is a premium Sports Utility Vehicle that will be just as enjoyable for urban use as when displaying its cross country ability and on snow covered roads.
Audi’s UK PR boss, Jon Zammett, summed up the Q3 quite well by describing it as “extremely desirable” because of its brand image and I am sure that despite rivals like the Evoque this Audi will be be on many motoring shopping lists.
My Verdict: A very capable premium performer.