COM­PLETELY AUDICTED

GER­MAN CAR MAKER AUDI STEELS VA­ROON P. ANAND IN ITS OWN WORLD WITH AN UN­FOR­GET­TABLE DRIV­ING EX­PE­RI­ENCE IN MU­NICH

India Today - - SPICE -

Sand coloured grain fields glis­ten un­der a driz­zle on a wet Mu­nich morn­ing as I glide sound­lessly through. It’s my first time driv­ing on a Ger­man road and hav­ing slipped away from the main high­way onto the muddy farm tracks I’m not the slight­est bit wor­ried about los­ing my way. The nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem’s mon­i­tor calls out clear di­rec­tions, as I take in views an­cient and pas­toral. The scenery is like a mov­ing paint­ing whose bumps, pot­holes, and wet earth I can see but not feel. Sink­ing fur­ther into the seat moulded per­fectly to my size, I ex­cuse my­self for feel­ing like the mas­ter of all that I sur­vey. I am, af­ter all, astride the very no­ble Audi Q3.

This heady feel­ing sur­passes van­ity; it’s the com­fort of a car that an­swers ev­ery ques­tion with a lux­ury so­lu­tion. That’s just how Audi does ev­ery­thing, in­clud­ing get­ting you ac­quainted with their fea­tures through the Audi driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence pro­gramme. A high-per­for­mance ad­vanced driv­ing tuition and ed­u­ca­tion pro­gramme, ini­ti­ated by Audi in 1983 whose pri­mary aim is to ed­u­cate driv­ers by the­ory and phys­i­cal hands-on tuition. Struc­tured in a num­ber of tiered pro­grammes, in­clud­ing the prac­tice of emer­gency ma­noeu­vres util­is­ing Anti-lock Brak­ing Sys­tem (ABS) and Elec­tronic Sta­bil­ity Pro­gramme (ESP) sys­tems, it also in­cludes safe high speed han­dling, and helps demon­strate and ed­u­cate the abil­i­ties of Audi’s qu­at­tro four-wheel drive sys­tem. In a bur­geon­ing lux­ury au­to­mo­bile mar­ket like In­dia’s, the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence is also Audi’s an­swer to pick­ing the right Audi.

Audi has been the leader of In­dia’s lux­ury au­to­mo­bile seg­ment since 2010, sell­ing 5,511 cars in 2011. Each year Audi tries to in­tro­duce a new model for the In­dian mar­ket, and each year they have to ex­pand the Audi driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to give the con­sumer the tools to choose be­tween the range. In or­der to con­tinue grow­ing, Audi now looks to make in­roads into a sub-sec­tion of the rapidly ris­ing SUV mar­ket.

What im­presses most about Audi is how the group makes all the thought and ef­fort put into ef­fi­ciency, com­fort and in­no­va­tion in­vis­i­ble to the naked eye. It’s only when your white knuck­les are wrapped around the steer­ing wheel, foot gun­ning the ac­cel­er­a­tor, reach­ing 130 km/h only to stomp on the brakes full force that you can ap­pre­ci­ate the ABS. The glee­ful Ger­man in­struc­tor sit­ting shot­gun beams. mak­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence feel far safer as the rain pours down on the Audi track be­hind the Mu­nich air­port. There couldn’t be an­other way to make sense of the Q3, the new pre­mium SUV in a com­pact­cat­e­gory form. Audi is bet­ting that they can meet the needs of a flashier, younger mar­ket with the Q3’s sporty char­ac­ter and coupe-like lines. Sharp edges frame el­e­gantly arched sheet me­tal sur­faces, and dis­tinc­tive lights ac­cen­tu­ate the front and rear. The low roof line, which be­gins drop­ping rather early, and the very flat D-pil­lars, un­der­score the dy­nam­ics of the Q3. The base ver­sion of the Audi Q3 weighs just 1,445 ki­los. Its rigid, safe and quiet oc­cu­pant cell in­te­grates a num­ber of ul­tra-high-strength steels. Both the en­gine hood and the tail­gate are made of alu­minium. Audi also of­fers a choice of op­tional equip­ment taken di­rectly from the lux­ury cat­e­gory, in­clud­ing the adap­tive light sys­tem for the xenon plus head­lights, the high-beam as­sis­tant, the panoramic glass roof, the LED in­te­rior light­ing pack­age and pow­er­ad­justable front seats. But most strik­ingly, Audi has fore­gone its usu­ally un­der­stated black, white, and greys for some truly bright choices, like the Samoa orange I rode, to ex­cite a younger mar­ket.

Back on that dirt road rolling away from Mu­nich, the nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem in­forms me I have ar­rived in Erd­ing. I start back­ing up to park and a view pops on the dash­board con­nected to a cam­era in the back show­ing me what I’m re­vers­ing into. I step out and a sen­sor in the key locks the doors when I’m far enough. I breathe in crisp, fresh air, or­der a pint from a tav­ern, and take a few mo­ments to ap­pre­ci­ate the Bavar­ian beauty be­fore rest­less­ness hits. I turn back and a few steps away the Audi, sens­ing my wan­der­lust, opens by it­self, ready to en­cap­su­late me into its charm­ing world.

THE AUDI Q3 ON THE SLALOM COURSE DUR­ING THE AUDI DRIV­ING EX­PE­RI­ENCE IN MU­NICH

THE NEW AUDI Q3 RE­TAINS THE FA­MIL­IAR BEVY OF DRIVER AS­SIS­TANCE AND MUL­TI­ME­DIA SYS­TEMS AND COM­FORT­ABLY SEATS 5 PAS­SEN­GERS

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