Friday 24 March 2017

Urban meets sporty in Q3 as Audi boosts investment

Worldwide sales have jumped for Audi -- up by 12 per cent in Europe, 16.5 per cent in the USA, and an amazing 32 per cent in Asia -- where China is now its largest market.

Here it is already the leader in the premium segment, entering the top 10 sales chart at No 9, just ahead of chief rival BMW.

Audi's sales were up one per cent over the year, and the small premium market segment surprisingly did rise by 19 per cent. The fact that SUV sales now account for 10 per cent of this market will please Audi as it has just launched its new Q3, a compact SUV that managing director Andrew Doyle says will account for 300 extra sales next year.

Doyle's confidence is based on the early reaction to the Q3 and the €80m investment Audi is making in its Irish network, which will create 200 extra jobs and even more spin-off jobs.

Last Thursday saw the official opening of an Audi terminal, a super garage/showrooms in Sligo; similar terminals are planned for Waterford and north Dublin. It is all part of Audi's global plan which will see an investment of €2bn in new products and technology.

The new Q3 is one of the products of this investment and at the Audi terminals there will be computers available for customers to configure their Audi Q3 and other models. Exterior and interior colour schemes can be chosen with the aid of on-screen displays, and engine and technical specifications are there for the picking along with a big list of optional extras.

Mark McGrath, product manager, believes that the Q3 will appeal to young couples, and the family market, across the age range from 30-50, because of its practical multi-functional design.

There is a high level of quality in the Q3, a sporty 5-door that because of its size is more practical for urban use than the Q5 and Q7. It can carry four to five adults in comfort and rival the BMW X1 and Land Rover Evoque, but is a good way ahead of the VW Tiguan, Ford Kuga, Nissan Qashqai and Hyundai ix35 on 'poser' appeal and will have better resale values.

Prices start at €33,850, and there are four turbo-diesel engines to choose from with stop-start as standard. They include a 2-litre turbo-diesel with a choice of power output from 140bhp-177bhp with 4x4 drive and 7-speed automatic transmission options. There are two 2-litre petrol options putting out 170bhp and 211bhp. Standard equipment includes 17" alloy wheels, parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, a concert- quality audio system and a screen that can be turned into a sat nav with an SD card. An S-version adds extra standard equipment for €3,300.

Martin Brennan

Sunday Independent

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