For all but a handful of SUV drivers having four driven wheels is a needless exercise. Unsurprisingly then in a marketplace now driven by economy the two-wheel drive SUV is no longer an anomaly.
The most efficient models are typically those with only one set of wheels driven, allowing cars like Audi’s new Q3 to compete with larger saloons and estate cars on a level playing field.
Given a playing field, or gravel driveway is about as far as most will venture off-road then front-wheel drive is no problem. And if you’re worried about traction in winter a set of winter tyres will get your front driven SUV places a summer-tyred 4x4 won’t reach.
The benefits are tangible too, with Audi quoting provisional economy and emissions figures of 54.3mpg and 138g/km for the 2.0-litre TDI SE model with 140bhp. That’s better economy and lower emissions than a 140bhp 2.0 TDCi Ford Mondeo Estate.
While the £24,560 Q3 2.0 TDI SE might not bring the massive load capacity of Ford’s estate it’s surprisingly comfortable inside for four, and the boot’s 460 litres of capacity (1,365 seats folded) will suit all but the most ambitious of packers.
Naturally, being a premium product the Audi is more expensive, but entry-level SE trim includes alloy wheels, roof rails, rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, iPod connection, light and rain sensors and Bluetooth telephone connection.
Sat-nav is also pre-installed, its activation simply requiring the purchase of an SD card. S-Line is also available, it adding larger alloy wheels, exterior and interior styling revisions and xenon headlamps with LED daytime running and tail lamps. S-Line also brings 20mm lower, tauter suspension as a no-cost option, but we’d avoid that in the UK.
The Q3 enters a fledgling marketplace, with only one obvious rival currently on sale. BMW’s X1 is a natural competitor, though Land Rover’s Range Rover Evoque will give user-choosers three sub-compact SUVs to choose from.
Typically the Audi brings discreet style and a high quality interior to the class. It’s a good drive too, the front-wheel drive model actually the sweetest driving model in the predominantly quattro model line-up.
The 2.0-litre TDI is hushed, the six-speed manual quick and precise and the ride composed and you’ll not notice the lack of four-wheel drive on the road. You will in your pocket, though.
Author: Kyle Fortune