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2011-04-13 08:57

GOING SMALLER: Audi Q7 too big? Obviously. Q5? Still too big? So here's the new Q3 - perfect. Image gallery.

If there's one thing the world desperately needs its more premium compact German crossovers.

Audi, rather unhappy about the success BMW is having with its X1, has revealed its counter-offering, the Q3, ahead of its 2011 Shanghai auto show debut.

This latest Q-series SUV is the smallest raised-body car Audi’s yet built and basically shrinks the signature styling details (oversized grille, a raft of LEDs) of its larger Q5 sibling into a compact SUV package.

MORE PRACTICAL THAN X1?

Audi claims the Q3 combines contemporary styling with all the practically one would expect of a SUV. Its luggage volume accommodates 460 litres with all seats in place but swels to 1365 with the second-row seating folded – a bit weak compared to its Tiguan cousin’s 471 litres.

Honda’s CR-V, for instance, has 513 litres behind its rear seats but, all things considered, the Q3’s boot remains 40 litres more capacious than its BMW X1 rival…

Drivetrains are familiar VW Group fare: two two-litre TFSI petrol engines (103 and 155kW) and a single two-litre TDI (103kW). A more-powerful 155kW TFSI and a sole diesel will drive all four wheels via Audi’s seven-speed S-tronic transmission which now adds a coasting feature that disengages the clutch, enabling the Q3 to freewheel on overrun and save fuel.

Although off-road use will be limited, the new Q3 does have the option of hill-hold to get up those slippery, extreme gradient, rural driveways in winter. Park assist adds side-sensors so you're unlikely to scratch it when manoeuvring in tight spaces.

Audi’s full range of infotainment options will available in the car, including the company’s larger-display MMI hard-drive satnav. Full internet connectivity, via the Q3’s Bluetooth phones synching, is promised for the third quarter of 2011.

So, if you've been in the market for a crossover and the lack of dual-clutch transmissions on offer has kept your money in your pocket, the new Q3 might move you into a purchasing mode.
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