Next Audi Q3 to gain more tech and plug-in hybrid variant

As evidenced in these images, the new Audi receives more distinctive styling than the current six-year-old model

Prototypes of the third-generation Q3 have been spotted testing; it will go on sale in mid-2018

Prototype versions of Audi’s second-generation Q3 have been spied undergoing testing by Ingolstadt engineers less than a year before the new SUV is due to go on sale in the UK. 

Sporting a sharpened appearance, new underpinnings, a roomier interior and contemporary electric architecture supporting many of Audi’s latest driver assistant systems, the new Q3 has been comprehensively re-engineered in a joint Volkswagen Group programme also encompassing the latest VW Tiguan, new Skoda Kodiaq and Seat Ateca, among other upcoming models.

Dimensionally, the new Q3 has grown in an attempt to distance itself from its cheaper sibling, the Q2. Nothing is official yet, although sources suggest its length extends to around 4450mm and width beyond 1860mm – increases of 60mm and 30mm respectively.

By comparison, the Q2 measures 4190mm in length and 1790mm in width, while the recently launched second-generation Q5 runs to 4660mm in length and 1890mm in width.   

Based around VW Group’s widely used MQB (Modularen Querbau – modular transverse) platform architecture, the new Q3 is claimed to have shed up to 50kg over today’s model, which sits on older PQ35 underpinnings dating back to the second-generation A3 launched in 2003. This should bring the planned front-wheel-drive entry-level model, which is set to use a 1280bhp 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, to less than 1350kg despite the increase in size.

As well as being lighter, the MQB architecture also provides the new Q3 with added structural integrity. Insiders cite a significant improvement in both static and dynamic rigidity as being crucial to enhancements in the isolation of vibrations while contributing to lower overall noise levels – factors that promise to make it a more adept long-distance proposition.

As evidenced on the prototype pictured, the new Audi receives more distinctive styling than today’s six-year-old model, with a prominent eight-corner single-frame grille, thin angular headlamps with LED graphics and a heavily structured bumper assembly dominating its front end.

Further back, there are larger wheelhouses, more pronounced wheel arch flaring, door-mounted mirrors and a more defined shoulder line along the flanks. A longer wheelbase, which is said to have grown by 50mm to 2650mm, also sees the adoption of slightly longer doors. At the rear, the new Q3 appears to eschew the clamshell style tailgate for a simpler (and cheaper-to-produce) aperture.  

Inside, the 2018 Q3 receives a newly designed interior with a dashboard heavily influenced by that already seen in the latest A3. With a longer wheelbase liberating rear seat leg room and added width providing greater shoulder room both front and rear, the new model is described as being significantly more spacious than its predecessor. A slightly longer rear overhang is also claimed to provide the new SUV with an added 20 litres of luggage capacity to reach 440 litres.

Among the more upmarket features available for the new Q3 will be Audi’s Vitual Cockpit display with HD graphics, a head-up display unit, a 9.2in touchscreen infotainment system, inductive smartphone charging and a full suite of connectivity functions supporting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The new Q3 will offer a variety of driveline combinations, including front-wheel and four-wheel drive in combination with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic dual clutch gearbox.

The headline engine in the new Q3 will be Audi’s recently revamped turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder petrol unit developing up to 395bhp. It will be supported by an S Q3 model running a detuned version of the same engine at around 335bhp.

Other petrol engines will include a new turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder unit. It joins the Q3 line-up as a replacement for the older turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder unit, likely offering two states of tune at 128bhp and 148bhp. Also planned, although not expected to feature in every market, is an updated version of Audi’s turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine delivering 248bhp.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the future of diesel right now, Audi is sticking to plans to launch the new Q3 with a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder common rail engine in up to three states of tune: 148bhp, 187bhp and 237bhp. All will feature a SCR filter and Adblue injection for Euro 6 emission compatibility.  

Also under development, though unlikely to be seen at launch, is a plug-in hybrid version. It is set to combine the turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor in an updated version of VW Group’s modular plug-in hybrid system that is claimed to provide a combined output of more than 200bhp and an electric range of up to 31 miles at speed of up to 81mph.

Ingolstadt sources involved in the engineering of the new Audi also confirm that the German car maker is working on a pure electric version of the second-generation Q3 as part of plans to meet China’s new energy vehicle regulations. The secret front-wheel-drive Q3 e-tron, conceived to compete against BMW and Brilliance’s Zinoro 60H, is likely to run a similar driveline system to the VW e-Golf, with a 134bhp electric motor and 35.8kWh lithium ion battery providing an all-electric range of up to 186 miles between recharging.

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Source: Autocar Online

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