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Audi flicks Q3 production switch near Barcelona

Bird's-eye: Seat's Martorell plant, 30km north-west of Barcelona, is where the upcoming Audi Q3 compact-SUV will be built.

Spanish production of Audi’s Q3 luxury crossover imminent as rumours of Q6 emerge

23 Mar 2011

VOLKSWAGEN Group’s Spanish subsidiary Seat will start building the compact-sized, BMW X1-rivalling Audi Q3 SUV soon at its Martorell plant, 30km north-west of Barcelona.

The announcement confirms once and for all that the Q3 is set to become reality within months, with the programme scheduled to start in the northern spring to coincide with the car’s expected world debut at Shanghai next month.

Audi Australia managing director Uwe Hagen confirmed to GoAuto last August that the Q3 would join the Australian stable alongside the Q5 and Q7, although as of this week the company could not yet confirm when it would arrive.

Little is known about the Q3’s drivetrain and specification line-up, but it is likely to closely follow that of the related and similarly-sized A3 Sportback.

As GoAuto reported in April 2009 when the proposal to build the Q3 on Spanish soil surfaced, European news sources suggested the deal was on condition of a wage freeze by the workforce at the Martorell factory.

At the time, Audi promised that its Q3 would be “produced to Audi quality standards” and would invest €300 ($A422 million) in the plant for a production capacity of up to 80,000 units a year.

7 center imageLeft: Audi Cross Coupe Quattro concept. Below: Audi Steppenwolf.

The recent announcement that the project guarantees 1500 jobs at the Spanish production facility – with 1200 receiving training and a total of 700 new jobs being created – is good news for the struggling Spanish economy.

The country is dogged by Europe’s highest unemployment rate at 20 per cent and took 18 months – longer than many of its neighbours – to emerge from recession after the global financial crisis.

As part of the deal, the Catalan local government will cover all training costs in return for a guarantee that at least 60 per cent of those trained are offered at least a six month employment contract at the production facility.

The Q3 will be the first Audi built at Martorell, but not the first outside Germany. In addition to its domestic production facilities, Audi also builds cars in Hungary, Belgium, Slovakia, India and China.

The Q3 was first previewed way back at the 2000 Paris show with the TT-based Steppenwolf concept and again by the unrelated Cross Coupe Quattro concept at the 2007 Shanghai motor show.

Spy shots of the Q3 in testing have materialised in Europe recently, apparently confirming that the fastback-style sloping tailgate of the concepts will make it through to production.

Meanwhile, reports are emerging from Europe that Audi is planning a rival to BMW’s X6, likely to be badged Q6 and slotting in the brand’s SUV range between the Q5 and Q7.

To the end of February this year, Audi Australia sold 502 mid-sized Q5 SUVs, down 4.2 per cent, while the larger Q7 is going great guns with 398 sold – almost doubling the result for the same period in 2010.

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