Audi to Unveil New Q3 at Shanghai Motor Show

In preparation for next week’s Shanghai motor show, Audi has released the first official photos of its updated 2013 Q3 compact SUV.

The success of Audi’s previous SUV models, the Q5 and Q7, the Q3 is scheduled to go on sale in Europe in June. The company has declined to say when it might be appearing in North American showrooms, but there is speculation that it could happen as early as late next year.

The Q3 is based on the same platform as the Volkswagen Tiguan, and the similarities don’t end there. The Q3 and Tiguan also share the same transversely mounted engine and gearbox combo.

The Q3 will face some stiff competition from a number of other compact premium SUVs including the BMW X1 and soon-to-be-launched Mercedes-Benz GLC and Land Rover Evoque.

A sportier, three-door version of the Q3 showed at the 2009 Shanghai motor show. The five-door version features clean lines, a single-frame grille, wraparound tailgate and trapezoidal headlights all wrapped up in a distinctive, yet understated package.

At 172.8 inches in length by 72 inches in width, the new Q3 is slightly shorter and narrower than the Q5. Standing 63 inches in height including the roof rail, it is also 9.5 inches shorter than its predecessor. The Q3 is also lighter than the Q5. The base front-wheel drive model weighs in at 3,307 pounds; a full 463 pounds lighter than the base model Q5.

In order to achieve such a dramatic reduction in weight, Audi has fitted the Q3 with an aluminum hood and tailgate. High-strength steel makes up the rest of the Q3’s sleek body. The Q3 also features a flat undertray, which when combined with other body modifications, results in a mere 0.32 drag coefficient.

In the Q3’s home market, Audi initially plans to offer motorists a choice of three engine options. The entry level model will feature a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder direct-injection gasoline engine. Buyers will also have a choice of front- or four-wheel drive gearbox.

The top-of-the-line model will come with either the beefier 208-hp turbocharged version of the same gasoline engine or a 175-hp 2.0-liter common-rail diesel engine and will only be available with all-wheel drive.    A fourth 138-hp diesel front- or all-wheel drive engine will be added to the lineup by year’s end.

The Q3 will also come with a long list of optional features including a hard-drive-based navigation system, a 14-speaker Bose surround sound audio system and a parallel-parking assistant system.

Production for the European market will take place at Volkswagen’s Martorell facilities near Barcelona, Span. No official projections have yet been made; however, internal sales studies indicate annual sales could reach up to 100,000 units.

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