Audi Q3 35 TFSI S Tronic – The art of driving without driving

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8.1 Audi-riffic

Audi's Q3 is all about the experience. After all, if you're dropping this much on a vehicle, you'd more or less expect it to drive itself. And that's... pretty much the promise the Q3 35 TFSI S Tronic delivers on.

  • Comfort 9
  • Engine pickup 7.5
  • Tech features 8
  • Effort involved in driving 9
  • Price (is definitely a factor) 7
  • User Ratings (0 Votes) 0

How do you know if you’ve made it? Like, really made it in life? If popular (and social) media is any indication than a conspicuous show of wealth is the way forward. A Lambo. A Vertu smartphone. A Rolex dangling from your wrist like gold from a hairy, overweight man in a speedo. But that’s just how you make people think you’ve made it.

If you’ve really made it, your showing off is a little more… understated. To paraphrase Dre, a giant doesn’t have to move unless its provoked. Rolling up sirens blaring is a sure way to get noticed but people will know you’re a kid. Roll up in Audi’s Q3 35 TFSI S Tronic and people are still going to notice — all the more because you don’t have to call attention to yourself.

Not quite there

If you’re rolling in Audi’s new Q3 you’re not quite rolling in the big bucks (yet) but you’ll feel as if you are. The Mythos Black finish of our review vehicle might have something to do with that. It’s a quick way to feel like a member of the Mafia and/or American Secret Service — even though you have to do your own driving.

The Q3’s design is a mid-sized SUV, with enough space in the cockpit for a 6.8′ mielie farmer from the Free State and enough clearance in the back seats to get all his mates in as well. There’s plenty of space in the (electric) boot — 530l, or two-point-five bodies squished into a couple of grain bags (to use the traditional Mafia units of measurement). But it is unmistakably Audi from the outside — albeit an Audi that religiously ate its veggies and protein.

Under the skin

Audi’s a luxury brand — pretty sure that’s been mentioned before. And even if it wasn’t immediately obvious, there’s almost no doubt once you’re inside the cockpit. Maybe its the heated seats, or the optional alcantara trim on the dash — a material which computer-makers are using to plush up their hardware — or the (also optional) sunroof. The Q3 screams (quietly) that you make more money than all those other people not currently driving one of these. Even if you’re the only one who can see all the lovely interior bits.

There’s keyless start — heck, it’ll unlock itself if you tug on the door handle with the key in your pocket. There’s a wireless charging pad for your smartphone, which’ll remind you if you’ve left your phone in the car, and then the usual extras. You know, steering wheel audio controls, that sort of thing. In fact, there are three sets of those: steering wheel, centre console and then the middle touchscreen. More on that in a bit.

Under the hood

Believe it or not, the Q3’s engine isn’t all that beefy compared to the sporty effort found in the A1. Performance is about the same though, like an ageing Metallica fan,  the Q3 is hauling around a lot of extra metal. Which is fine. You’re not in this thing because it goes fast, even if it’s quite possible to nip through traffic that isn’t expecting this thing to creep up on them and then blow past.

No, you’re in this thing because you don’t have to drive the bloody thing. And that goes beyond it being an automatic. Press a button and the engine fires up, press the pedal and you’re off. Press the brake and you’ll stop. Come to a complete stop and the handbrake engages. Oh, yes, the handbrake is a button, as well. Press the first button again and everything powers down. That’s all you need to know to drive the Q3. It’s a bit like using a high-end intelligent camera with everything set to Auto — it’ll make you look good, even if you haven’t the foggiest idea what you’re doing. And, as with the interior, it’s all comfort, all the time. Especially in Comfort mode, the only driving mode that matters here.

Want us to sell it further? We intentionally got stuck in an hour’s worth of traffic, in the rain in Johannesburg  during load-shedding and barely noticed it. Booping around with the in-car systems is a breeze in traffic when it practically drives itself.

Tech on deck

Comparisons in tech between the Audi A1 and the Q3 are really appropriate — they’re both rocking the same operating system and features, with just a few extras headed the Q3’s direction. Even then, the extra features mostly involve hardware the smaller vehicle doesn’t have. You know, automatic handbrakes and that style of thing.

The touchscreen hosts the rear view camera and vehicles sensors — it’s a bit unnerving to see sensors light up when you’re nosing over a chonky speedbump but it’s also kinda cool. Plus, you always know when you’re took close to the car in front of you — which should stop you from driving like a pillock.

The main display for our review car (not counting the wholly-digital clocks) is a 12.3in touchscreen — but it’s normally a 10.1in effort. More optional extras, yeah? As before, setting up new devices is a breeze and you can control media easily no matter where you’re sitting. Okay, maybe not in the back seats. We didn’t spend much time back there.

And then there’s the electric boot, another wholly optional extra which is nonetheless entertaining. Prod a button on the mostly-decorative fob and the boot opens, hit it again to close. Handy for loading groceries or squealing toddlers but make sure you’ve got enough clearance. Like Cypress Hill, the boot gets higher than you’d expect.

Audi Q3 35 TFSI S Tronic verdict

You can probably guess what we’ve got to say about the Audi Q3 — you don’t need it. You absolutely want one, though. The major question is: which one are you going to buy? The R600,000 base model, or the R745,000 version that we’ve tested here. The experience isn’t quite the same without B&O audio, parking sensors, in-seat heating, and all that lovely tech — which, yes, does cost extra. If you’re not keen on the sportier, certainly speedier and more fuel-efficient new Audi A1 Sportback and are far more concerned with comfort and having to think as little as possible while driving, then Audi’s Q3 35 TFSI may just be for you.

Tech Specs

Engine: 1,395cc
Power/torque: 110kW/250Nm
Transmission: 6-speed S tronic
0-100km/h: 8.9sec
Top speed: 204km/h
Fuel consumption (average): 5.9l/100km
Fuel tank: 64l

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