Audi's baby Q

Audi has unveiled its BMW X1-fighter at this week’s Shanghai motor show. The Q3 compact SUV will be built in Martorell, Spain, and goes on sale in Europe mid this year before being introduced to Oz in early 2012.

Looking much like a scaled-down Q5, the Q3 measures in at 4.39 metres long, 1.83m wide and 1.60m tall – by comparison the X1 measures 4.45m/1.79m/1.54m.

The Q3 boasts an aluminium bonnet and tailgate, and Ingolstadt claims the base front-drive model tips the scales at under 1500kg. Inside, the Q3 nabs cues from its A3 hatchback sibling, including the climate control and audio switchgear. The 460-litre boot is 80L shy of a Q5, but expands to 1365L with the three-seat rear bench folded.

Four 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engines will be available. Two petrol versions produce 125kW and 155kW, the latter of which sprints the Q3 to 100km/h in a claimed 6.9 seconds. Likewise, two oilers are available in either 103kW or 130kW guise.

The lesser-powered front-drive diesel is claimed to use just 5.2L/100km. All engines mate with Audi’s seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, dubbed S-tronic.

Both the front- and all-wheel-drive Q3s get electric power steering, and include standard ESC with an electronic diff lock function, which mimics the operation of a mechanical LSD.

A various range of options will be available including Audi Drive Select adaptive dampers, adaptive cruise control, and auto-park assist.

Like its exterior dimensions, expect the Q3’s Australian pricing to be a near-facsimile of the BMW X1’s. That means around $45K for the entry-level petrol front-driver to $55K for the flagship all-drive oiler.

BMW has shifted 553 X1s so far this year (VFACTS, March 2011) so the ‘premium compact SUV’ niche clearly has resonance in the Australian landscape. How much of dent can Q3 make on X1? Come early 2012, we’ll know...

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