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Q3 a true Audi

On its own feet: Despite sharing a platform with the cheaper VW Tiguan, Audi says the Q3 is very much its own beast.

VW Tiguan-based compact SUV designed to be an Audi from the beginning

2 Apr 2012

STYLING of the new Audi Q3 compact SUV was not compromised or constrained by being based on the same platform as the Volkswagen Tiguan, according to a senior Audi executive.

Audi head of exterior design Achim Badstuebner said the PQ35 platform that underpins both vehicles – and dates back to the 2003 Volkswagen Golf V – was engineered from the start to accommodate both vehicles.

Speaking to GoAuto at the Q3’s Australian launch in Queensland last week, Mr Badstuebner explained that no ‘hard points’ are shared between the two cousins, so the Audi team had a free hand in styling the Q3.

He said the Q3 possesses the design attributes that “makes an Audi an Audi”, including six-window side-glass treatment, single-frame grille, daytime-running lights and LED tail-lights.

It also features Audi’s SUV ‘clamshell’ tailgate design, which incorporates the tail-lights in order to give a less tall and narrow look from behind – a solution devised for the big Q7 during its development after members of the Audi AG board expressed dissatisfaction with the rear-on stance of the full-sized crossover.

7 center imageFrom top: Audi W3 interior, Q5 and Q7.

Mr Badstuebner said he faced a number of challenges in transplanting the Q-series design elements on a vehicle as small as the Q3.

“What works on a Q7 may not work so well on a Q3,” he told us.

Achieving best-in-class aerodynamics in a relatively stubby coupe-like body shape that does not compromise on rear headroom too much also taxed the design team.

Creating the illusion of a low, sporty SUV while simultaneously accommodating an average-sized adult in the rear seat not only required lowering the floor and the roof compared to the taller Q5 and Q7, but also gently tapering the angle of the rear glass to give it a more ‘fastback’ style.

“If we maintained a squarer back like on the Q5 then it might have been too close to the Q5,” said Mr Badstuebner.

“We aimed to have very good space but make it look smaller, so there is a bigger gap between it and the Q5.

“Compared to the Tiguan, it is lower we dropped the roof and increased the ‘tumblehome’ so the frontal area is completely different to the Tiguan.

“We also focussed on the Q3 having a high quality interior. We focussed on the materials for it to be like every other Audi.”

Lighter and more efficient than before, Mr Badstuebner indicated the Q3 sets the precedent for all future Audi SUVs.

“It forecasts where Audi and the SUV is going – it is lighter, smaller and has a smaller frontal area, for increased fuel efficiency and lower emissions.

“But the shape stays – we’re definitely keeping that as it is because it is so Audi.”

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