Cylinder shutdown that’s just seamless
THE constant advance of technology in modern cars never fails to amaze me... and nowhere more so than at Audi.
Enter their latest version of the popular Q3, which was unveiled along with a number of other model revisions in the UK earlier this year.
Added to the Q3 range for 2015 was Audi’s ‘cylinder-on-demand’ 1.4-litre TFSI petrol engine. With lively performance despite its diminutive size it has almost 150 bhp.
Like a number of other manufacturers, Audi have worked out that the car does not always need to be a four cylinder, but the really clever bit is how this happens, totally unnoticed.
You would think that – as you cruise along the motorway at near the legal limit – if half the engine’s cylinders shut down you would be able to tell. But it is seamless… the only indication of a switch to just two cylinders is a discrete message on the binnacle display.
This ‘party piece’ enables the Q3 we had as our test car this week to return over 50mpg on the combined cycle and near 60 on a run – not bad for a petrol crossover. Yet it can go from 0 to 62 in under nine seconds and hit a top speed of 126.
Other changes include a revised front end, more in line with the latest Audi corporate look, minor styling enhancements at the back and increased standard equipment.
There are three trim levels – SE, S-Line and S-Line Plus. Our test 1.4 TFSi S line six-speed manual is bang in the middle of the line-up and price range at £27,515.
The car had that very useful power tailgate, which is standard above the base model, plus six airbags and electronic stability control, blind spot monitoring, DAB radio, sat-nav, speed limit display and active lane assist. S line models and above also feature Xenon headlamps and all models have an upmarket interior and feel built to last.
However, our car boasted quite a list of optional extras which took that on-the-road price up into Evoque territory at £33,900 – but did include things like special smart ‘double spoke’ alloy wheels, Digital TV, heated front seats, a ‘technology package’ (£1,500!), and a particularly excellent hill hold assist system, which is one of the best I have come across and makes queuing in uphill traffic a doddle.
The standard Drive Select system allows you to adjust the steering weight and throttle response – but it’s best left in auto mode to let the car decide when power is needed and how many cylinders to employ.
Also the steering feels a little heavy in sport mode and the car’s sharp handling means a firmer ride than other compact SUVs, but it is still comfortable.
All versions offer the option of either manual or S tronic twin-clutch automatic transmission, which are both excellent, and above our 1.4 in the engine stakes is an updated 2.0-litre TFSI petrol unit – with power up from 170bhp in the outgoing Q3 to 180 – mated to the S tronic transmission with quattro all-wheel-drive.
The diesel version has a 2.0 TDi with 150 bhp or 180, 2wd or Quattro and mpg figures little better than our 1.4 petrol.
With the latest facelift, Audi hopes to continue the Q3’s current success – the firm has sold 400,000 globally since its launch in 2011.
Mind you, it needs to be a good car as the nearest opposition are Range Rover Evoque, BMW X1 and Mercedes GLA
Prices start from £25,340 OTR up to £35,735 and there is a hot RS Q3 on the way with 340bhp which tops the range at £45,495 – but will not be on sale here in the UK until Spring next year.
●» The 2015 Q3 has revised front and rear design