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Audi Chattanooga

6001 International Drive
Directions Chattanooga, TN 37421

  • Sales: (888) 386-9359
  • Service: 423-664-0857
  • Parts: 423-664-0858

2015 Audi Q3 Test Drive


 
2015 Audi Q3 2.0T Quattro
Photo by Mark Kennedy.

FAST FACTS

* Model: 2015 Audi Q3 2.0T Quattro

* Exterior color: Monsoon Gray Metallic

* Interior color: Black

* Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder

* Horsepower: 200

* Transmission: six-speed automatic

* Fuel economy: 28 mpg highway, 20 mpg city

* Dealer: Audi Chattanooga, 6001 International Drive

* Price (as tested): $39,175

Picking out your new Audi SUV is now as easy as ordering a fountain drink at McDonald's. Just pull up to the showroom and say small, medium or large.

As of this month, Audi has a new entry in the compact SUV segment, a void many luxury automakers are also rushing to fill, witness Lincoln's jaunty new MKC, the pocket-rocket Range Rover Evoque and the soon-to-arrive -- and much-heralded -- Lexus NX. And of course there's the rear-wheel-drive BMW X1, which got a head start on the whole compact luxury SUV trend.

The all-new Audi Q3 compliments the larger Q5 and the full-size Q7. The Q3 is built on the same platform as Audi's excellent new A3 sedan and sports a lively 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. Audi of Chattanooga general sales manager Jarrett Caraway alerted us as soon as the first Q3 hit the ground here, and we rushed out to test drive a Monsoon Gray Metallic Q3 earlier this week.

All three Audi crossovers share the same basic design language and feature a yawning grill with an iconic four-ring emblem, cat-like headlights and well-tailored body lines. As with the new Lincoln MKC, Audi designers seem to have paid special attention to the rear hatch of the Q3 witch contains a lot of sculpted sheet metal and highly-stylized taillights.

Even with Audi's classy MMI navigation feature and special five-spoke Offroad wheels included, our tester has an asking price of under 40-grand -- $39,175 to be exact. The Audi Q3 2.0t Quattro (all-wheel-drive) has a base price of $34,600 before options and destination charges. Front-wheel-drive Q3s start at $33,425 without options.

The Q3 is a true citizen of the world. Assembled in Spain, the Q3 gets its engine from a plant in Hungary and its transmission from Japan.

STYLING AND COMFORT

The Q3 is about 10 inches shorter than the Q5, which only becomes an issue if your typical backseat passengers are six-footers. Families with larger teens or carpool responsibilities might want to look at the larger Audi crossovers, but others should find the Q3 just right.

My guess is that most Q3 buyers will be young professionals treating themselves to an upgrade from Honda CRVs and Toyota RAV4s, and will find the Q3s snug back bench fine for their kids' booster seats. Meanwhile, when it's time to help a friend move boxes to a new apartment, the Q3 offers up to 48 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seat folded flat.

The Q3s interior design is restrained, but classy. Most of the infotainment features are channeled through a display screen positioned high on the dash for visibility. Leather seats are standard on the Q3 as is a panoramic roof, which is offered only as a pricey option on many luxury cars.

Navigation is part of a $1900 option package that also includes an in-dash CD/DVD player. Our Q3's handsome 19-inch wheels fetch a $800 premium, and the power tailgate is a $400 add-on. Heated exterior mirrors are also standard, as is a 50,000 mile new-car warranty.

Scan the Q3's cabin and several things jump out. First, fit and finish in the Q3 are flawless. Air vents are large and easy to aim with the climate settings controlled by switches on the center stack. The Q3s front seats hug your torso, an invitation to drive hard.

DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

Unless you punch the throttle, the Q3 is a quiet little run-about that can make your morning commute a relaxing experience. But if you're into your second latte on a Saturday morning, the Q3 is as willing a playmate as Labrador retriever puppy.

Rated at 200 horsepower, the turbocharged four-cylinder engine is plenty strong enough to encourage spirited driving. On our test drive on Highway 153 in Chattanooga and beyond the Q3 threaded in and out of knots of traffic. Meanwhile, the brakes are strong and secure. The six-speed transmission is so silky smooth that it makes you wonder why other automakers are stretching to produce eight- and nine-speed gearboxes.

The stock Continental tires are grippy and nicely compliment the Quattro all-wheel-drive system, which is great for mountain roads and, not inconsequentially, for boosting resale value.

BOTTOM LINE

Customers in the market for BMW X1s and Range Rover Evoques now have a new model to add to their "must-drive" lists. Judging from the growing popularity of Audi products worldwide, it's a safe bet that the Q3 won't stay on the QT for long.

Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6645. Follow him on Twitter @TFPCOLUMNIST. Subscribe to his Facebook updates at www.facebook.com/mkennedycolumnist.

August 7, 2014

The Pulse » Chattanooga's Weekly Alternative

Want style and quality, not flash? Here's the car for you

It's unprecedented, but for each of the last 42 months, more Audi's have been sold worldwide than the previous month. That has helped make Audi the second best-selling luxury brand. If you ask Audi Chattanooga General Sales Manager Jarrett Caraway, it's a good start. Caraway expects Audi to take an ever-growing chunk of the luxury car market until it's number one.

"Audi is a very progressive brand...very focused on technology and very focused on capturing the younger market," Caraway explains of the German auto maker's strategy. And he should know. He's in that target demographic. The 30-something father of five (soon to be six) says his family, like others, are attracted to the advanced features of the Audi line.

"If you get in an Audi when you're 28 or 29," Caraway says, "the likelihood of you upgrading to a more expensive, more feature-filled Audi is probably pretty high." But that premise depends on younger drivers wanting an Audi in the first place. Until recently, that wasn't a likely scenario. To many car buyers, Audi was rated with more "conservative" brands like Volvo and Saab. Ring up the curtain on "I, Robot", the Will Smith film from 2004. The movie, set in the future, featured an Audi concept car dubbed the RSQ. The only thing recognizable on the car were the familiar four interlocking rings on the front grill. It was a turning point for the brand. It was not only futuristic-it was Will Smith Cool.

Caraway says his young son gets amped talking to his friends because he says his dad drives the same kind of car as Iron Man. Yes, the ever-suave, super-rich and super-brainy Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr., drives an elegant Audi A8. In fact, the younger Caraway thinks his dad sold Tony Stark his Audi. Kids.

Even more media exposure for the nouveau-cool Audi came in the pages of 2012's bestseller "Fifty Shades of Grey". "Everybody in that book drives an Audi," reports Caraway. In fact, the car will probably get lots of screen time in the upcoming movie based on the book, due to be released in February.

But Caraway says you don't have to be rich and famous like a Will Smith, Robert Downey Jr. or the fictional Christian Grey to drive an Audi. He says the new 2015 A3, the company's entry-level car, starts out at just $29,900. 

A generously equipped model A3 is priced in the mid-30s. Caraway points out that price point is even better than comparable models from Honda and Toyota.

"You can get features like Wi-Fi and 4G navigation, the car will read your Twitter and Facebook feeds to you. You can even get flight information or a tip on a great parking spot from the car," Caraway boasts. Each model year, the Audi models have more updated technology, but one thing doesn't change much: the body styles. Many auto makers suffer from sales dips just before a new model year is announced. Buyers fear if they buy this year's model, next year's model may look radically different, making it obvious their car is already outdated.

Caraway says that's not a problem with Audi, noting, "The 2014 A4 is very similar to the 2008," indicating that buyers of a 2008 model are comfortable in the knowledge their six- or seven-year-old car looks as though it could have come from the showroom yesterday. Caraway adds, "The Q7 has been out for seven model years with no major changes in appearance." But don't let longevity of style be confused with stodgy or prosaic. "The cars looked futuristic ten years ago," says Caraway, "They haven't changed much of the outer appearance-and they still look futuristic."

Of course, there's much more to the car-buying experience than looks. Caraway tells The Pulse that his service department is second to none in its handling of cars brought in for scheduled service or the infrequent repair. The affordable Audi Care service plan takes care of all scheduled maintenance for the first 50,000 miles. And while cars are being serviced, the owner is handed the keys to a brand-new Audi to drive until the service is completed. Tony Stark would love it.

Louis Lee
Lois is a contributing columnist for The Pulse in Chattanooga.
If you have a story for Louis you may contact him at rick@brewermediagroup.com