LaunchpadAudi's smallest SUV, the Q3, looks good, has a wide range of engines and the brilliant Quattro system to entice buyers in India

Audi has finally unveiled its latest offering in the SUV segment after much anticipation, the Q3. The smallest and most affordable SUV in Audi's stable is coming to India and has the BMW X1 firmly in its sight. The compact X1 has been the lone player in this segment. Audi wants the share of this pie and will expect the Q3 to sell in large numbers, especially because the Q5 and Q7 have given Audi the edge in the premium SUV segment and it would like to maintain that lead.

The Q3's design is governed by clean and sharp lines, Audi's current family styling cues. From the wedge-shaped headlights that are derived from the A6 and A7 to the familiar Audi single-frame grille, the Q3 is a concoction of elements from current Audi models. Even the wraparound tailgate resembles those of the larger Q5 and Q7 models.

Audi's baby SUV, like the BMW X1, borders on the lines of being a large hatch. The steeply raked rear and compact dimensions are clear evidence of this. While the BMW is slightly longer, the Q3 is wider and taller suggesting a bit more interior space. Big for its class, the 460- litre boot capacity increases to 1365 litres with the rear seats folded down.

Four engines will be offered — two petrols and two diesels — with all being 2-litre four-cylinder motors. The TFSI petrols will develop 168bhp and 208bhp and the TDI diesels will develop 138bhp and 174bhp. However, the less powerful diesel will not be available initially. Audi claims that this highly efficient unit returns 19kpl.

All engines will get technologies like direct fuel injection, turbo-charging, start-stop and energy recovery braking. Besides the front-wheel-drive base diesel, all other models will get Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system. Two gearboxes will be offered – a six-speed manual and a seven-speed S tronic and, from what we are told, India will also get the manual version. An optional Audi drive select system will also be offered on the Q3 that helps you dabble between engine management settings and the optional adaptive dampers.

Interiors too aren't far apart from larger models right from the wraparound dashboard, the steering wheel and plenty of aluminium inlays. Audi's MMI infotainment-navigation system and the Bose surround sound system have been taken straight from more premium Audis. Online Bluetooth car phone and full internet connectivity on the move will also be available at a later date.

Audi will also offer a list of tempting options that includes adaptive light technology for the Xenon headlights, panoramic glass roof and an ambient interior lighting package.

Built in Spain, the Q3 will go on sale internationally in June, but will be launched in India only in early 2012. The base version will cost Rs. 22 lakh approximately.

ANAND MOHAN

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