Behold the curvy and compact Q3, the latest addition to Audi's off-roader line-up. Taking its place beside the imposing Q7 and the understated Q5, the Q3 is all set to rival the BMW X1 and MINI Crossman and make its mark in this market segment. The Q3 was previewed by the Cross Coupe Quattro concept at the 2007 Shanghai Motor Show.
The production model, while it shares its proportions with that show car, will borrow heavily from the flowing creases and clean surfaces of the Q5.
The chassis is taken from VW, Audi's parent company, more particularly from the Tiguan that bears the same size. The car is available in two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive, which uses a Haldex-developed all-wheel drive set-up similar to the Tiguan.
The array of engine choices includes a 2.0-liter TDI turbodiesel with either 138bhp or 168bhp, and the 2.0-liter TFSI unit from the Golf GTI with up to 207bhp, channeled through either a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG gearbox. The Q3 enters production at SEAT's Martorelli plant in Barcelona in 2011. Another Q3 concept, which this time is closer to the production version, will arrive next year.
Audi Q3 customers could have their vehicles powered by any of the three four-cylinder engines -- one TDI and two TFSI units. All of these four-cylinder engines feature direct injection with turbocharging as well as energy recovery and start-stop systems. Moreover, all three engines boast of being amply powered -- with power outputs from 125 kW (170 hp) to 155 kW (211 hp). Amazingly, all three engines come with quattro permanent all-wheel drive that features a hydraulic multi-plate clutch.
All Q3 models powered by top TDI and TFSI engines come, as standard, with seven-speed S tronic and an ultra-compact yet fast-shifting dual-clutch transmission that allows vehicles to become more fuel efficient than ever. During coasting and when the "Efficiency" mode is selected, the S tronic allows the Audi Q3 to free-wheel. Customers could opt to have shift paddles installed on the steering wheel.
Audi is slated to soon offer a 103 kW (140 hp) front-wheel-drive Q3 2.0 TDI that is expected to consume less 5.2 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (45.23 US mpg). Audi took great effort to come up with a chassis as good as that of the Q3. Its chassis employs a four-link rear suspension and electromechanical power steering, as well as 16- and 19-inch wheels. Standard support systems include an electromechanical parking brake and hill hold assist.
Audi plans to include hill-descent assist later. Meanwhile, Audi drive select allows drivers to adjust a number of technology modules -- like the optional active shock absorbers -- in four different modes to suit their own driving styles.
Allowing the Q3 to achieve sporty handling, outstanding safety and interior comfort and quietness is its dynamically rigid and high quality body, which is made mostly of high-strength steels. Rigidity is also achieved by fittings two torsion rings in the area of the rear seats and the cutout for the tailgate. Meanwhile, the Audi Q3 features an "ultra" lightweight construction. In fact, its soon-to-be-released front-wheel drive version weighs just 1,445 kg (3,186 lbs).
Its body-in-white weighs just 301 kg (664 lb). Its aluminum engine hood weighs 8.8 kg (19.40 lbs) while its aluminum wrap-around tailgate scales at 10.8 kg (23.81 lbs) – both weighing almost as half as similar parts made of steel sheet. Audi secured the engine hood to the body using two releases, thereby paving way for a crash-optimized construction featuring low sheet thicknesses as well as high geometrical stability.
On the other hand, the occupant cell of the Audi Q3 features several panels with tailored thicknesses (tailored blanks). As a matter of fact, around 74 percent of all body panels are made of high-end steels, including hot-shaped steels. Hot-shaped steels are made by heating blanks in a furnace to over 900 degrees Celsius (1,652 degrees Fahrenheit). They are then shaped immediately at around 200 degrees Celsius (392 degrees Fahrenheit) in a water-cooled pressing die.