I’ve always been an Audi fan.
While everyone was fantasizing over the raging bull, the prancing horse, and the three-cornered star, I was fascinated with the car with the four rings. In a past life, Audi was part of Auto Union, a German conglomerate consisting of four car companies, now remembered through the four-ringed logo. Auto Union had a grand tradition in motorsport. Their sleek curvaceous cars with monster V16 engines dominated one grand prix after another over its French, Italian, and German rivals in the 1930s.
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Audi was what remained after the Volkswagen group took over Auto Union group in the late 1960s.
In the modern age, Audi made its mark on rally racing and the World Rally Championship (WRC). I thought that this was the true test of a car rather than driving it around a track. Check out the internet for WRC clips and you’ll see how much punishment the cars go through as they careen and, occasionally, fly through the air, through gravel, snow, dirt, and tarmac back roads.
When rally racing was its purest back in the 80s without any electronic assists, the now-iconic Audi Quattro reigned supreme. Quattro meant four-wheel drive, which wasn’t used on road cars in those days.
Putting four-wheel drive on a road car tamed the powerful engines used in giving the Quattro unprecedented agility and handling on any road surface making the hatchbacks a force to reckon with in the world of the WRC.
The other racing discipline where Audi was in the spotlight was endurance racing where a special version of the Quattro dominated the Le Mans 24-hour race. This was no mean feat as the cars are meant to run at full speed for 24-hours non-stop.
Audis are meant to be driven hard and meant to last, and the company has done well to bring these characteristics to its cars. The Volkswagen Group has brought the reliability of German Engineering and a contemporary design language that can be seen in the curves of the Audi TT and the R8 supercar.
Sportscars are one thing, cars for everyday use are another. Audi has branched out into more practical cars like Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs). They started with a conventional looking Q7 back in 2005, but with the new 2020 flagship Q8, the SUV looks have evolved into a sexy, and curvy profile sporting the latest creature comforts and safety features.
Audi’s Q3 arguably started the luxury compact SUV class. The compact SUV was an emerging trend that had larger room for cargo than a sedan, but had the agility of the car where the driver wasn’t seated high up over the road.
In high-traffic cities, smaller SUVs that can zip around traffic drives more comfortably than the bigger, wider lumbering truck-like versions. While there were low and mid-tier models coming out of Japan and Korea, those with bigger budgets looked to the European manufacturers, particularly Germany.
The compact SUV has the best of many worlds. It has a larger space for cargo than an ordinary sedan, but still has the driving characteristics of a car where the driver is seated closer to the ground.
When I saw the Q3 during the media launch, I thought I was looking at the Q8’s kid brother. It has the same, albeit smaller, octagonal grille with the distinctive four rings proudly emblazoned on it. It also has the Sportback giving the Q3 its curvy and sporty profile. The guys at Audi said that buyers have the option of 17” or 18” rims on the base model.
Under the hood is a fuel efficient 1.4-liter engine that produces 150Hp and 250 Nm of torque. The 2020 edition is lighter than previous Q3s making stepping on the gas a lively experience. Thanks to Audi’s drive select system, drivers can select suspension settings on the fly ranging from very soft to navigate through the many bumpy roads to road-hugging and sporty for cruising through highways.
I’m really not a fan of the compact SUV class because of limited legroom, particularly when sitting at the back. The Q3 surprised as I was able to comfortably fit my 5’7” frame in the rear seat with room to spare.
There’s a pleasing amount of cargo space as well. According to the specs, there’s 675 liters of trunk space when the rear seats are down. When everything is folded up, it more than doubles up to 1,525 liters.
Audi Philippines wisely did away with European features such as heaters. Instead, there’s climate control to keep things cool in the tropical weather. The Android and iOS compatible Carplay multi-media system help keep passengers stay sane during insane traffic situations.
One cool piece of technology that wowed me is the Audi virtual cockpit. The All-Digital dashboard is basically a custom computer screen that can be configured to display information from different sources. For example, the speedometer can shrink down to the corner and the dash can display an updating screen from your favorite traffic navigation app. Personally, I thought that this is a high-tech solution to being able to access your phone and still follow the Anti-Distracted Driving law. It’s a great help for the driver to keep focus on a smaller area of the dashboard while keeping an eye on the road, rather than looking all over the dashboard.
Other driver aids available are the Audi Pre-Sense System, where front sensors give feedback if they sense obstacles like pedestrians on the road and can electronically step on the brakes if necessary. The Q3’s park assists, where the Q3 takes care of steering into parking spaces while the driver just has to step on the brakes and gas, should ease the headache of parking.
Audi Philippines has the classier S-Line package which has 20” rims, MATRIX LED Adaptive Headlights, and sports suspension. The interior features plush seating with Alcantara leather armrests.
For those who want to relive the glory days of the Quattro, all Audi models have RS editions which sport more powerful engines and all-wheel drive. The Q3 is no exception and this will be coming to the Philippines next year. Powering the small, light body is a monster 450 Hp engine that will make the Q3 at home on the track.
There are compact sport utility vehicles, and there are luxury compact sport utility vehicles. The Audi Q3 is a great example of this class.
For more information, please visit Audi.ph.