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Detroit LIVE: Audi Q3 concept previews future U.S. model with turbo 5-cylinder engine

by Andrew Ganz

Audi will bring its sub-Q5 crossover to the U.S. soon, so it will build interest next week in Detroit.

Audi already sells its Q3 crossover in a number of global markets, with the global production Q3 having bowed in April of 2011 at the Shanghai auto show. But now the automaker has released a concept named "Vail" after the tony Colorado ski resort town to build interest.

Up front, the Q3 Vail boasts a bold grille with vertical aluminum accents, an aluminum skid plate and more aluminum trim above the foglights. Flared wheel arches mark the flanks of the crossover, while the roof is capped by aluminum roof rails that are specially designed for transporting skis and snowboards.

The winter sports theme continues in the cargo area, which benefits from a heated mat that be can laid over the loading lip to provide a warm place to sit while taking a break from the downhill action. Other nifty touches include specially designed flashlights and a Thermos bottle that all feature inductive charging capability; the flashlights also boast infra-red heating elements that can used for warming frigid hands or a pair of ski boots.

The cabin gets a black, grey and red color scheme with an Alcantara headliner and numerous special trim details like aluminum-ringed gauges in the instrument panel (winter sports enthusiasts can never have enough aluminum, apparently).

Helping the Q3 Vail swiftly make its way to the nearest ski resort following a snowfall is a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-five that produces 314 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. Transmitting the power is a seven-speed dual clutch transmission, while a quattro all-wheel-drive system and upsized off-road tires help make short work of inclement weather.

The Q3
At its core, the Q3 is actually a Volkswagen Tiguan, although the Audi version gets its own style, quattro all-wheel-drive and a far more sophisticated infotainment system. Befitting its status as an Audi, the Q3 will also have its own unique suspension and steering tuning.

Weighing in at a reasonable 3,307 lbs, the Q3 makes extensive use of aluminum for its hood and tailgate. Its shapely design keeps turbulence at bay, giving it an impressive 0.32 Cd.

Three four cylinders are on offer for Europe - a pair of gasoline turbo units and one turbodiesel. North American powertrains have not been announced, but will likely include the larger 211 horsepower four and the 140 horsepower turbodiesel. However, the supercharged V6 used in the S4 may find its way under the Q3's hood eventually.

Audi says that a base Q3 TDI with front-wheel-drive will net 45 mpg, although that's based on European testing with a manual transmission. We anticipate something closer to 32 mpg for a quattro Q3 TDI automatic.

A seven-speed S-Tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission and quattro all-wheel-drive are on the option list, although European buyers will also gain access to a six-speed stick and front-wheel-drive. The two drive options will probably make North American specification, but the row-it-yourself unit isn't expected to make the overseas journey.

Like other Audi products, a four-mode driving system allows drivers to tailor their Q3 experience to their personal desires from comfort to sport.

Roominess won't be a Q3 forte; its bodylines dictate a small 16.2 cubic foot storage area behind the second row. Fold down the rear bench and that expands to a still snug 48.2 cubic feet.



The company is expected to begin selling the Q3 in this market later this year.


Vail concept