First was the Q7, then the fast selling Q5, and now Audi has enlarged its successful SUV range with a compact model called Q3, revealed ahead of its motor show debut in Shanghai.

This will be Audi’s entry level SUV, and it sits on the same platform as the VW Tiguan. Size wise, the Q3 is 4.39 metres long and 1.83 metres wide, which is slightly wider but 64 mm shorter than a BMW X1, the car that it’ll take on in the market. Compared to the Q5, it’s 239 mm shorter and 50 mm narrower, so there’s a clear size gap.

Audi says that the Q3’s drag coefficient of 0.32 raises the bar in this segment and there’s an underbody fairing that facilitates optimum airflow. The boot is expandable from 460 to 1,365 litres. With high usage of tailored blanks and aluminium for the bonnet and tailgate, a front driven Q3 weighs less than 1,500 kg.

Looks wise, it’s unmistakably Audi. The front is dominated by the single-frame grille with tapered upper corners, and there are of course LED daytime running lights, but they’re in bar form here. The Q3’s profile and shape isn’t too far from big brother Q5, but I see some A1 in the more raked D-pillar here. Together with a gently sloping roofline, Audi calls it coupe-like. The wraparound tailgate follows Q norms.

Audi offers 12 different colours for the Q3, and customers can choose either a full paint finish or color-contrasting panels in anthracite gray to replace the black underbody guard and wheel arches.

The Q3 will be available three four-cylinder 2.0L engines upon market launch, two petrols and one TDI, all with direct injection, turbocharging, start-stop and energy recovery system. The 2.0 TFSI delivers either 170 hp or 211 hp, with the latter propelling the Q3 to 100 km/h in 6.9 seconds on to a top speed of 230 km/h. For diesels, there’s a 177 hp 2.0 TDI from the outset, with a 140 hp version coming later.

The lower powered oil burner will be front driven, and it’s the economy champ of the range with less than 5.2 litres per 100 km consumption. The other three engines will come with quattro permanent AWD. This is a simpler and lighter Haldex multi-plate clutch arrangement in place of the Q5’s Torsen-based full-time AWD system.

The lower powered petrol and diesel variants will come with six-speed manual gearboxes, while the top end units get seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch ‘boxes. This means that should the Q3 come to Malaysia, it will be the 211 hp 2.0 TFSI.

Audi drive select is available as an option for all Q3 engines. It manipulates the accelerator and steering, and S tronic/adaptive cruise control, if specified. There are auto, dynamic and efficiency modes. In the latter, the air con and cruise control operate with the specific aim of saving fuel, and the S tronic disengages a clutch when coasting.

The Q3’s ESP integrates an electronic differential lock, which regulates the distribution of drive to the wheels via ‘barely perceptible braking’ at the limit of cornering, which aids handling. The ESP also includes trailer stabilisation. Hold assist is an option but hill hold assist isn’t available for now.

It may be entry level, but some options are high end. For example, the Bose surround sound system integrates 14 speakers and the HDD navigation system is displayed via a (manually extendable) seven-inch LCD screen. The system can also process whole-word voice input. A panoramic glass roof and a self parking system (it’ll steer for you) with twelve ultrasonic sensors are among the other options.

The Audi Q3 will roll off Seat’s under used assembly line in Martorell, Spain and will go on sale in its home market in June from 29,900 euros. Gallery after the jump.

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