Driving Torque

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Archive for the tag “Quattro”

Audi Q3 TFSI S line – Driven and Reviewed

Audi_Q3_Sline_interiorUsual Audi interior quality

Anyone who’s ever sat in any breed of Audi, of any description, or who knows someone who has, will be well aware that they know a thing or two about making interior spaces comfortable and inviting, and this Q3 is no different. Taking something like a car’s dashboard for granted is an easy thing to do – it’s not something people usually talk about, but when you look at the way the Q3’s is sculpted and formed to be as user-friendly and attractive as possible, it gives a very good indication of just how much importance Audi place on their living spaces.

It doesn’t end with a few nice shapes though – the tactile element of the Q3’s cabin is just as satisfying; I’ve pointed out before how important the feel of a steering wheel should be to manufacturers – it’s the part of a car your hands will come into contact with most often, by far. Run your hands over an Audi steering wheel, especially an S Line one, and it just feels right – such an obvious detail, and yet one so often overlooked.

Audi_Q3_TFSI_Sline_front_lightLet there be light……

Audi have also set the pace recently regarding illumination; they were the first manufacturer to feature DRLs (daytime running lights) – for a while, bright LED light signatures on any car were referred to as “Audi lights”. Their expertise in the field is mirrored inside the car also. Combining the usual white lights with their trademark red creates an atmosphere and ambience that’s unparalleled. Any photographer or interior designer will tell you that light can be your best friend or your worst enemy – depending on how it’s used; Audi get on very well with light.

Audi_Q3_TFSI_Sline_frontPanoramic glass sunroofs are another great way of adding light to any car and can make any small space feel more generous. If you’re going to spend £1,100 on the Q3’s optional roof , I’d just be a bit wary if anyone driving it’s over 6 feet tall. I use this height as the limit because that’s how tall I am and I just about got away with it with the seat on its lowest setting – anyone any taller will curse the glass roof as it does steal a valuable couple of inches of headroom.

…….and sound

Speaking of options though, at £690, the BOSE surround sound system is an absolute must. I’ve driven cars with far more expensive systems from equally impressive stereo makers, and been left completely underwhelmed. Not so the BOSE – it is absolutely sublime and, I think, a bit of a bargain.

Audi_Q3_TFSI_Sline_sideUpdate due soon

The Q3 will be updated fairly soon with a bit of a facelift and slightly revised engines  – you can have a look here; http://www.audi.co.uk/new-cars/q3/q3.html – but they’ll still be instantly recognisable as Audi’s smallest SUV (until the rumoured Q2 comes out soon, at least). They’ll also still utilise VAG’s PQ35 platform – it may not be as modern and ubiquitous as the MQB platform, but it performs admirably on the Q3. It handles the road with the minimum of fuss, achieving the objective of performing more like an A3 than a big, wallowy SUV when the tarmac comes over all twisty, even without Audi’s much-lauded Quattro system driving all four wheels.

Part of the New Q3’s facelift will involve, quite literally, a facelift, with the dominant feature – the Darth Vader/Hannibal Lecter/Hoover Dam ‘mouth’ being remodelled into something more 3D and slightly more subtle – very much in the style of the original Q3 from 2011. This shape Q3 is slightly front-heavy in the looks department, but when you add the larger wheels and other highlights that come with the S-Line spec that’s on our test car, it all balances out very well.

Audi_Q3_TFSI_Sline_leatherSmaller is better

The New Q3 will also come with some updated engine technology, the most frugal being a very clever, cylinder deactivating variant of the 1.4 TFSI petrol we’ve got here. Audi expect around one fifth of sales to be powered by their smallest unit, I’m thinking it’ll be a little higher. At 137g/km it produces Diesel rivalling levels of CO2 and slots into tax band E, yet at the same time, it’s genuinely good fun to drive. Sub 10s 0-60 times aren’t anything to write home about, but the way this Q3 is geared, combined with that beautifully weighted chassis, makes for a hugely satisfying driving experience. An unexpected bonus is the fantastic burble from the exhausts when you hit 4000rpm; I really wasn’t expecting it but the tones that resonate through the cabin just add to the sense of fun.

If you still need convincing to swap a larger oil-burner for this TFSI petrol, can I just throw in the fact that it’ll cost a whopping £3,900 less than its nearest priced alternative. £4K is not to be sniffed at and it quite conveniently keeps the Q3 more wallet-friendly than some other manufacturer’s alternative, namely the Range Rover Evoque.

Audi_Q3_badgeWhat does it all add up to?

Sometimes, every once in a while, you put all the correct ingredients together and life has a really vexing way of messing the recipe up, with no explanation offered, leaving you with a right dog’s dinner where should have been a masterpiece.

Conversely, sometimes the opposite occurs and what, on paper, shouldn’t turn out to be anything particularly special is actually pretty wonderful.

I think it’s called equalling more than the sum of its partsand this fairly run-of-the-mill Audi Q3 is a superb example of such an occurrence.

By Ben Harrington

Specifications; Audi Q3 TFSI S line, Transmission – 6 spd manual, Layout – Front engine, FWD, Power – 150Ps, Torque – 250Nm, Emissions – 137g/km CO2, Economy – 47.9 mpg combined, Maximum Speed – 126mph, Acceleration – 9.2s 0-62mph, Price – £25,850 OTR, £32,770 as tested

For full details go to http://www.audi.co.uk

Cholmondeley Pageant of Power 2011 – Press Day

Bentley, Lotus and Lamborghini on Cholmondeley Start Line

An impressive line up at Cholmondeley Castle

Friday the 15th of July sees the start of this year’s Cholmondley Pageant of Power, held at Cholmondley Castle. For those of you unfamiliar with the event, it’s possibly best described as Cheshire’s answer to Goodwood’s Festival of Speed, only with a more generous variety of fast, loud attractions for lovers of machinery in general.Founded in 2008, the Pageant is now in its fourth year and this week I elected to attend the press day to find out what we can look forward to next month.

Following on from the success of previous years, this year’s event is a full 50% longer than ever due to the addition of a third day. The gates now open on Friday, not Saturday as has been the case at prior Pageants of Power. This will give even more people the opportunity to enjoy the action and the event organisers are keen to emphasise that the Friday will offer the same levels of excitement as the following two days.

Hannu Mikkola's Audi Quattro Rally Car

The actual Audi Quattro as used by Hannu Mikkola

Another new feature for 2011 will be the purpose built tarmac rally stage, specially designed to offer spectators optimum viewpoints at various positions. I was lucky enough to hitch a ride in John Hanlon’s works Audi Quattro Rally car and I can wholeheartedly confirm that these 350+ hp beasts are not to be missed. Over 30Lombard rally cars are expected and giving them their own natural habitat will surely provide even more of a spectacle.

Thundercats powerboats on the lake at Cholmondeley Castle

Thundercats on the lake

For those of a more nautical persuasion, the Castle’s own Deer Park Mere provides the setting for powerboats of all shapes and sizes including hydroplanes, monohulls and catamarans, some of which are capable of 125mph! Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing the wetbike from ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’, but that’s just me.

Helicopter landing at Cholmondeley Castle

Helicopter landing at Cholmondeley Castle

Looking skywards, there will be aerobatic displays from, amongst others, the Breitling Wing Walkers and the Arbarth Aerobatic display team. A team from RAF Valley will also be putting on a marine search and rescue display (HRH Prince William will hopefully pop along for the day). The Pageant is actually Europe’s largest helicopter event so is undoubtedly a must for anyone with a passion for these amazing machines.

Sir Jackie Stewart and four time World Rally Champion, Juha Kankkunen are just two of the famous names attending the event this year, no doubt putting the rest of us to shame with their god-like driving abilities. With ticket sales already 40% up on last year, organisers are confident they can top the £75,000 they raised in 2010 for Help the Heroes, with this years chosen charity being Combat Stress.

With further attractions for both young and old on offer around the grounds and a little bit of luck with our ‘summer weather’, this year’s Pageant looks set to be bigger and better than ever. Anyone who’s never been should undoubtedly take the family down and I’m fairly certain that if you have been before, you won’t be able to resist this year’s show.

Full details and ticket sales can be found at www.cpop.co.uk

I’d like to thank both Thunder Cats UK (www.thundercatracing.co.uk) and Helicentre Liverpool (www.helicentre.com) for allowing me the unique experiences they kindly provided me.

Special thanks must go to John Hanlon and the rest of the HanSport team. A truly friendly bunch who allowed me to fulfil a boyhood dream – a high speed rally stage in an Audi Quattro!

By Ben Harrington

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