RIGHT-SIZING is a relatively modern term in the motoring arena and is a definite art.
It is all about designing vehicles and engines to fit in with the times and Audi, with its Q range of SUVs has a fine track record of getting it right.
Take the Q3 for instance which pitches for sales in the growing small premium SUV sector.
Some years ago it might have been asked about a small premium SUV, ‘What's the point?'
But these days with downsizing being a definite trend in the marketplace the pocket sports utility can be a great money-spinner for a manufacturer.
The Q3 is positioned in the marketplace to compete against the likes of the Range Rover Evoque and the BMW X1 and takes on this formidable opposition with typical Audi aplomb.
Using the underpinnings of the Audi A3, the Q3 is now offered with a neat restyle and more equipment.
Three trim levels, SE, S Line and S Line Plus are superbly equipped but, following current automotive fashion, can be personalised.
The engine lineup for the Audi Q3 comprises two TFSI units and two TDI clean diesel four-cylinder units. Displacement ranges from 1.4 to 2.0-litres and output from 150ps to 184ps. All are turbocharged, direct-injection units and comply with the limits of the Euro 6 emission standard.
With the help of sophisticated thermal management, they quickly come up to operating temperature following a cold start.
Compared with the previous model, performance is even better and CO2 emissions have been reduced by up to 17 percent.
The diesel engines are two versions of the 2.0 TDI clean diesel, which Audi offers with either 150ps or 184ps outputs.
The 2.0 TDI I drove came with quattro all-wheel drive and seven-speed S tronic transmission. With 127mph in its sight and a 0-62mph sprint of 9.3 seconds it was a sharp and confident performer and CO2 emissions were also impressive at 134g/km.
The S tronic transmission is very responsive. It comprises two transmission sections configured similarly to a manual transmission. The two multi-plate clutches are arranged radially, one above the other. The large, outer clutch transfers the engine's power via a solid shaft to the gear wheels for gears one, three and five.
A hollow shaft rotates around the solid shaft. It is connected to the second, smaller K2 clutch, which controls the gear wheels for the gears two, four and six, as well as reverse gear. While driving, only one transmission section is coupled to the engine at any given time, but both are continually active. For example, when the driver accelerates in third gear, the fourth gear is already engaged in the second transmission section.
The shifting process takes place by switching clutches; this happens in just a few hundredths of a second with no detectable interruption of propulsive power. Gear changes are so fast and smooth as to be barely noticeable.
Audi Q3 drivers can operate the compact dual-clutch transmission themselves using the selector lever or the optional shift paddles on the steering wheel.