One concept, months of spy photos and a series of teaser illustrations later, Audi's new 2012 Q3 compact SUV is upon us.
Appearing in the virtual realm before making its Shanghai Auto Show debut later this month, the Q3 is Audi's new entry model in its now three-car SUV line-up, slotting in below the Q5 and the gargantuan Q7.
On the styling front, the Q3 continues Audi's now-familiar styling language, from the sharp-angled headlights and tail-lights with unique LED treatments, through to the broad one-piece grille, prominent foglight surrounds and soft character lines of its profile.
Three engines will be offered internationally, the trio made up of one diesel and two petrol engines - all turbo-charged and direct-injected, along with a brake energy recovery system and a start-stop system.
Power outputs range from 103kW to 155 kW. The entry-level Q3 2.0 TDI will launch after the petrol engines, bringing a front-wheel-drive layout and a six-speed manual transmission and averaging "less than" 5.2 l/100km for fuel consumption.
The two petrol engines will be equipped with Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive system and will be mated to a S tronic seven-speed automatic transmission.
As a first for Audi, the Q3's S tronic transmission will offer an efficiency mode that will use a clutch to disengage the engine, removing any mechanical drag on a trailing throttle.
The quattro all-wheel-drive system in the Q3 skips the Torsen-based setup of the larger Q5 and Q7 SUVs, relying instead on the same Haldex multiplate clutch arrangement utilised by the Volkswagen Tiguan.
At 4380mm long, 1830mm wide and 1600mm tall (including the roof rails), the Q3 is around 240mm shorter than the Q5, and about 50mm narrower. It also sits about 55mm closer to the ground.
Depending on the spec, the Q3 is about 200kg lighter than the Q5, and those weight savings come not only from being smaller, but also through the use of an aluminium bonnet and tailgate.
Behind that tailgate is 460 litres of rear storage if the back seats are upright, growing to 1365 litres with the 60:40 split-folding seats laid flat.
As with all luxury cars, the Q3 comes with a long list of features and options, including a 14-speaker Bose surround-sound system, hard-drive based satellite navigation with a top-mounted seven-inch screen, internet connectivity, 12 ultrasonic parking sensors, a panoramic sunroof, unique storage packages, heated seats and climate control.
Speaking with TMR today, Audi Australia's Sean Poppitt confirmed a local launch for the Q3 in the first quarter of 2012. Specifications will be revealed closer to launch.
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