Mike Stevens | Jun 8, 2011

Audi has this week kicked off production of its new Q3 compact SUV ahead of its European launch. Australian buyers won't have long to wait though; it's expected here in the first quarter of 2012.

Unveiled at April's Shanghai Auto Show, the Q3 shares its platform with the Volkswagen Tiguan and enters the Audi line-up beneath the mid-size Q5 and the larger Q7 SUV.

In a first for Audi, the Q3 is produced at Volkswagen's Seat plant in Spain, where some AU$450million was spent upgrading the facility in preparation for the Q3 and other luxury models.

Australian specifications for the Q3 have yet to be revealed. In Europe, the compact SUV will be offered with three engines: one diesel and two petrol, each turbo-charged and direct-injected.

2012 audi q3 19

Brake-energy recovery and start/stop systems will also be used to keep fuel consumption and emissions to a minimum.

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 with 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.

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