Review – Audi Q3 Dynamic with Drive Select
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The Audi Q3 shook up the entry-level crossover segment when it launched in 2012, and has continued to drive volumes for the brand. Audi say that the Q3 accounts for most of its ‘Q’ model sales in India, and company sources tell Indian Autos Blog that the regular variants of the Q3 see more sales than the entry-level S edition.
It’s no surprise then that Audi has launched a new range-topping model called the Q3 Dynamic. The Dynamic, sees minor cosmetic changes and the inclusion of Audi’s Drive Select System. Here are the talking points of the car.
At the front, the car gets a chrome grille and skid guard, the sides see new 17-inch ‘Trias’ alloy wheels, and the rear sees the most significant changes that come in the form of clear lens taillights and a silver underplate.
The taillights may not appeal to everyone’s tastes, but they do serve to differentiate the Dynamic from other variants. That apart, the Q3 Dynamic will also be available in three new colors namely Mythos Black, Florett Silver and Monsoon Gray.
Audi India, which introduced its new variant nomenclature with the A3 Sedan, has now introduced it on the Q3. The regular variants of the Q3 which are powered by the 177 bhp 2.0-liter diesel engine, are designated ’35 TDI’.
Changes inside are far more limited than the exterior. The center console gets a new button for the Drive Select, and the MMI system comes with a separate menu for choosing between the three driving modes – Dynamic, Auto and Comfort. Save for these changes, the cabin of the Q3 Dynamic is identical to the top-end Q3 Premium+ edition.
Engine and Gearbox:
Mechanically, the powertrain continues unchanged. Which means you continue to get the 2.0-liter four-cylinder TDI engine which makes 177 bhp and 380 Nm of torque that comes mated to the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission which sends power to all wheels via the Quattro system.
Audi’s engineers have instead focussed on updating the suspension system of the crossover.
Ride and Handling:
The Q3 Dynamic’s suspension can be switched between three modes – Comfort, Auto and Dynamic. As the names suggest, Comfort puts the car in its most comfortable ride position (ideal for rough roads), Dynamic firms up key systems like the gearbox, steering, throttle response and the suspension itself, while Auto will make necessary changes on its own based on your driving style.
The Comfort mode is identical to the regular Q3, wherein rough road surfaces are dealt with appreciable ease by the Q3’s suspension. However, a small grouse with the Comfort mode, and with the regular Q3, is that the steering feels extremely light and uncommunicative. In the normal Q3, you were left wanting for more in terms of steering feedback especially around tight bends. And this is where the true advantage of the Drive Select comes in.
Where the normal Q3 driver would have to be content with the relatively light steering, the Q3 Dynamic’s owner can push a few buttons and put the car in its ‘Dynamic’ mode. Changes in the steering are immediately apparent in this mode: There is a sense of weight to the steering (though it is artificial in nature), and it encourages you to take turns with more confidence.
To truly highlight the system, we took the Q3 Dynamic around Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore, and performed a slalom test and a track test with the system in Comfort and Dynamic modes. Indeed, the Q3 with the heavier steering in Dynamic mode felt better to drive around the track, and performed better (read agile and taut) on the slalom.
Audi say that the suspension becomes a tad stiffer in this mode as well, and this was clearly evidenced in the slalom where the car rolled less through the cones.
To sum up, the Dynamic mode of the Drive Select system brings a much needed improvement to the steering feel of the car. Having said that, it must be mentioned that the lighter steering setup of the Q3 is indeed preferred inside city conditions. It is only around twisty roads, or for this matter on a racetrack, where the Dynamic mode is called upon.
Safety and Brakes:
There are no changes here, as the Q3 Dynamic gets the same safety features of the Premium+ variant. Dual front, front side and rear side airbags with ESP are seen on the car, as are front and rear disc brakes.
The Q3 Dynamic’s efficiency is same as the regular variants at 15.73 km/l.
The Q3 Dynamic is priced at INR 38.4 lakhs, ex-Showroom, Mumbai. That’s about INR 1.6 lakhs more than the otherwise top-end Q3 which doesn’t get the Drive Select feature and the exterior features mentioned above.
Its pretty easy to summarize the Q3 Dynamic as it is the variant to get should you want all the bells and whistles on the crossover package. And given that its priced only a shade above the top-end model, we don’t think the premium price would matter much to its customers either.
However, our choice still inclines towards the regular Premium or Premium+ variant of the Q3, as the Drive Select System won’t find frequent use. Sure, the steering feels improved when using the ‘Dynamic’ mode, but its a question of how often you need this improved steering that decides whether or not you will shell out the extra money for the Dynamic.