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The SUV segment has grown very impressively in the Indian market. It has encouraged many car makers to offer new models in this segment. Toyota Fortuner, Chevrolet Captiva and Honda CR-V are some of the D segment SUVs sold in India.
Premium car makers like Audi, BMW and Mercedes Benz are trying hard to make their entry level cars easily accessible to the D segment consumers. The X1 crossover and A Class are offered by BMW and Mercedes Benz respectively. The Q3 which is the youngest Q range SUV is priced at Rs. 31,04,000 (Ex-Showroom Mumbai) thus not making it a fair entry level premium SUV.
The Q3 S is Audi’s answer to affordable yet premium SUVs in India. It does miss out on many goodies seen on the more premium variant like the LEDs, Quattro – all wheel drive and the seven-speed S-tronic transmission. The Q3 instead has detuned performance characteristics with a 6 speed manual transmission. We review this latest Q offering in our detailed review

The Audi Q3 S is christened “S” but then it is the most basic Q range SUV sold in India. The famous LED lights and washers are not present and also you won’t find a panoramic sun roof but then this baby SUV is not boring at all instead it has its share of funk.
It all begins with the cherry red paintjob which gives the S tag some meaning. It looks as dynamic and strong as a normal Q3. There are some angles where the S also manages to make its elder sibling look dull. Reading no LEDs on the Q3 S makes it loose it sheen but when you see it in skin, the Mustang inspired multi layered headlights are gorgeous to look at.
The S gets a generous chrome surround on the radiator grille along with the glittering vertical slats. There is an aluminium finished front bash plate which makes this SUV look rugged. The media car came in with Pirelli Scorpion tyres which are of 235 / 55 R17. These look super stylish especially the black glossy wheels paired with the spicy red paint-job makes it look very racy.
The wheel flares are subtle and the fenders are finished in matte plastic cladding and so are the side running board. The longish nose of the bonnet and the silhouette of the C-Pillar gradually flowing to the rear makes the Q3 look very dynamic. The roof gets Al finished roof rails too.
The tail lights don’t blink as quickly as the LEDs but I am still not complaining because even the conventional set looks very impressive. The different cells of the tail light make it look as aggressive and edgy as that on the Q3. There is no separate S badging on the car which does not distinguish it from the standard Q3.

Step inside the Q3’s cabin and you won’t see a lot of gizmos and there are times when it feels very much like the Volkswagen Polo with the matte black and brushed Aluminium finish. The Q3 S falls in the similar range as the Mercedes Benz A Class and the latter feels too modern when compared to the Q3 S.
It is still not a mood spoiler as it feels roomier than the A Class. The seats get basic leatherette and the cushioning is decent. Front legroom is sufficient while the rear legroom is an issue for taller passengers. All the seats are very comfortable and even on long drives do not cause any fatigue.
While Audi guys were generous to give the driver all possible electric controls for adjusting his seat, the front passenger might feel bad because in addition to the manually pushing and pulling of the seat, he also has to battle with a rotary knob to adjust the inclining angle.
The speedometer is similar to the standard Q3 and so is the driver information screen mounted on the dash board. The DIS screen can also be folded and tucked in the dashboard. There is no automatic climate control in this which pinches it hard especially when you consider its price tag and the other options available in the market. The AC unit does a decent job and cools the cabin adequately.
On the central console, there are twin cup holders and there is storage space under the adjustable armrest. All four doors can hold a litre class container. It has a superb boot space and one can stock more luggage than in the A Class or the BMW 1 series.

Before getting the Q3 S, ran a quick look at the specs and they looked very less compared the standard Q3 Quattro. The displacement of the engines remains same but the Q3 S has been detuned. The company has killed close to 30 Horses from the 2.0 TDI Quattro and also reduced the torque by 60Nm.
The racing red Q3 S arrived and the black wheels and Pirelli Tyres got me totally hooked on to it. Previously, I had mentioned about the goodies being absent in this cost constraint model but then all of that was distant vague memory. The absence of LEDs does not make this car look bare but instead gives it a different character.
After being floored with its impressive exteriors, it was time to step in and start our drive experience. Realization struck when the Start/Stop system was missing. Got the engine cranked and the grunty diesel engine started revving.
The star attraction of the Q3S is its manual transmission. I had always wondered about the feeling of driving an expensive premium manual car and the Q3 S was close enough. The plush auto stick has been ditched for a stubby 6 speed manual gear stick. Without the auto gear stick, climate controls and other luxuries it was an Audi sans pampering.
All this changed when the vehicle was in motion. The engine picks up speed in a very short time. The power and torque figures are comparatively less but then even the weight of the Q3S has been dropped considerably. The 4 Cylinder in-line TDI engine produces 140 Hp at 4200 rpm and 320Nm of torque at 1750 to 2500 rpm. The 7-Speed S-Tronic transmission has been substituted by a 6 Speed manual gearbox.
The engine feels rev friendly and holds on to the torque delivery for a very long time. Even on 3rd gear, the engine keeps pulling till the red line limit. The gear shifts are very impressive and smooth. They are very short in nature and precisely downshift and upshift as and when needed. The clutch however does not feel in tandem with the gearbox as it takes some efforts and in city traffic the clutch is too tedious to go through.
The wide tyres took the road decently and the suspension setup took the undulations very easily. When we took it on rough roads, the Q3S was confident and its tall ground clearance and big wheels encourages us to push this baby SUV even more.
It is nice to see that even though the Q3 S is a base model, Audi still offers Electronic Stability Programme on it but then this is not a Quattro so the confidence on traction is not as much which is evident while cornering at high speeds. It takes some time to regain its original position. The Q3 S delivered an impressive mileage at 15 – 16Kmpl during our test run.
The Q3S competes with SUVs like Toyota Fortuner, Chevrolet Captiva and Honda CRV. With its premium badge, Audi wants to entice aspiring D segment customers to enter the premium SUV bandwagon. The Fortuner and Captiva may be higher on features and performance but then as a brand they do not come close to Audi.
It is the most affordable SUV in the Q range. Many features have been reduced in this version and the Q3S is cheaper by Rs.5 Lakhs than the Q3 Quattro version. The price difference is substantial but then the customer needs to choose between features rich or a premium brand SUV.
The Q3 S with its racy looks and basic core performance will attract many young buyers. The S edition is a great way to enter the niche SUV club. Comparing it with normal SUVs is not a fair comparison reason being not that it has and off-roading potential nor does it haul maximum passengers in the segment. The Q3S is a compact premium SUV for the young and restless.


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I was so impressed with the mileage of Audi Q3 S TDI manual version recently when driving below 90Kms per hours on a highway from Delhi to Jammu where speed limit is 90 KMS only and the car efficiency meter clocked these ratings. Almost 28 KM/Liter diesel mileage and already TDI-S is low on maintenance as this is a manual drive car and not AMT. I don't know why Audi is stopping this version or model, they should bring in Petrol manual version so customers like me. I somehow still like manual drive gear shift cars.
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