It was in Germany that we last drove the updated Q3. The SUV was India bound and now after a short wait, the 2015 model has finally arrived and is ready for launch. We have just driven the India spec Q3 in Goa and in the process, welcomed the rain gods too.
The Q3 receives new styling, updated engines and a few more features. Look closely and you will notice that the front and rear end look slightly different, especially the face. The headlamps, for instance, are now LED powered. The signature parking and daylight running LEDs follow a new pattern that looks a lot meaner in the dark.
While the outer design of the headlamp is the same, the front grille and bumper are all new. The hexagonal grille is different too, the upper sides of which now merge with the headlamp giving the SUV a new identity. This is now the new face of the Q family. The soon to be launched Q7 also follows this theme.
The extension that connects the grille and the lamp looks like it's finished in aluminium instead of chrome, very classy indeed, but contrasts well only with cars in darker shades. The air dams and lower grille are sportier and add to the styling.
The side profile is exactly the same while the wheels feature a new design pattern that looks chunkier. The rear end at first looks like it has undergone no changes, but look closer and you will notice the new LED lamp features a different light pattern along with dynamic turn indicators like in the A8 and R8. The bumper is also different, the design being slightly revised.
Step inside and the cabin feels very similar to the current Q3, the only visible change being the new instrument cluster and the updated MMI system in the top Technology variant. Cabin space and quality of materials used are still impressive. The storage area under the front centre hand rest features a mobile phone holder and charger. The holder also features a signal booster for the phone by using the car's radio antenna.
While the model we drove in Germany received updates, the India-spec model retains the same 177PS 2.0 TDI motor. Performance and efficiency remain the same but are still impressive when compared to competition. There's also a Dynamic and Comfort mode feature, part of the Standard drive select programme, so one can choose the right mode based on the requirement on the road. The S tronic dual-clutch transmission continues to offer seamless and quick shifts while Sport mode extracts the most out of the engine. The 2.0 TFSI petrol variant will not be available at launch and should make it at a later date.
The diesel motor is still the most refined, especially when compared to competition. Power delivery is linear and the transmission is tuned well. Reaching triple digit speeds is still effortless. This motor is ideal for highway cruising too.
Ride and handling
The Q3 is known to offer a good balance between ride and handling. The updated model retains this quality. The quattro system aids dynamics and it was put to best use around Goa's tight corners in the rain. The SUV puts a smile on your face and feels very car-like when it comes to handling and always holds the line. The suspension setup is exactly the same as before which isn't a downer. The steering is light at parking speeds and weighs up at higher speeds. However, feedback can still improve.
The new Audi Q3 is now a lot fresher, offers extra features and at the same time, retains the good qualities of the previous version. It would have been nice to see the updated engine with better power and efficiency make it to India as well. There are more colour options too, like the shade you see here. Model trims will mostly be similar to the outgoing model. We drove the Technology variant that features standard navigation and 20GB jukebox storage in addition to the other features like the panoramic sunroof and LED lighting. The entry level model wasn't here at the drive but expect this version to get added features too. The Q3 rolls out in India on June 18 and we expect prices to go up only marginally.