Cool hand Audi: Q3 signals sexy

A new tourist attraction popped up in Hartbeespoort a few months ago: an upside-down house. Yes, in the middle of a field someone decided to build a two-storey, brightly coloured structure flipped on its head. The theme continues inside the quaint living rooms and bedrooms as the washing machine and beds hang above you, presumably nailed to the roof — or is that the floor? Outside there’s even a kennel with a stuffed-dog toy peering down. Christopher Nolan meets architecture.

For all its uniqueness, the house doesn’t actually do anything. You buy a ticket, walk around a little, get slightly nauseous from its slanted nature and take some photos. That’s it, no one is sitting on the couches or taking milk out the fridge. The word “gimmick” has never been so apt.

Driving away from the tourist trap in the new Audi Q3, it was easy to wonder to what extent it too was a gimmick. It’s a question that must be asked of all cars in the increasingly popular compact-SUV segment — a family filled with cousins who play fast and loose with the “utility” aspect of the acronym.

The answer is quite surprising: this is not gimmicky at all. Obviously, it lacks the clearance for serious 4×4 work but you already knew that going in. Everything else you can imagine a big car doing, the Q3 does — and does well. There’s plenty of boot space to hold your luggage for long trips, and the boot is still expandable by pushing or folding the back seats. Should passengers be sitting there instead, they will find a surprising amount of head and leg room. A generally comfortable drive will only add to their pleasant experience.

Easy on the eye

As suitable as it may be for the open road, this car’s greatest boast is its city-slicker qualities. The kitted-out test model we received looked plenty sexy with grungy Johannesburg as its backdrop. It came in Florett Silver (or silver in non-Audi speak), had black trimmings on the rear-view mirrors and vents, 19-inch cast alloy wheels in contrast grey, and a mean front grill that wouldn’t be out of place on a TIE fighter. The design almost escapes criticism but for its sad insistence of following Audi’s trend of installing fake exhausts — a potential dealbreaker for those of us labouring under the illusion that there’s still authenticity in this world.

The pilot’s chair continues the seductive aesthetic set-up from the outside. Ours had seats with a neat combination of leather and Alcantara, giving the interior a classy feel as soon as you step inside. A long infotainment screen and solid finishings ensure that’s not a sensation you’ll be losing any time soon. And then there’s the virtual cockpit — oh wow. Audi essentially pioneered the digital dash cluster and now its final form seems to be close. The graphics are just gleeful to look at. The map that pops up in front of you in bright, full colour looks like a window to an ocean that is just asking to be plunged into. (Pity then that this model broke the mirage with an almost pornographic line of orange Alcantara across the dash.)

Throw in the rowdy Bang & Olufsen sound system and you have yourself a car that’s hard to beat when hitting the big-city highways. On a weekend that included the Hartbeespoort trip and a 45-minute drive from the North to Jabavu, Soweto and back again, driving at no stage felt like anything approaching a chore. 

There is, however, one very large but. As you may expect from those four rings on the angry grill in front, the price is not very friendly either. It begins at R585 000 while our furnished, beguiling machine was valued at R773 450. That is not loose change and for many people will be far more than they intend to spend in the compact SUV class.

Ultimately, it’s up to you what being a cool, smooth-riding city dweller is worth. Rest assured, you won’t be a gimmick driving the Audi Q3, but nor will you be hailed as a paragon of practicality.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Luke Feltham
Luke Feltham

Luke Feltham runs the Mail & Guardian's sports desk. He was previously the online day editor.

Advertisting

‘Frustrated’ police resort to force

Regulation uncertainty leaves slap-happy police and soldiers to decide when people should or shouldn’t be allowed on the streets

Mail & Guardian needs your help

Our job is to help give you the information we all need to participate in building this country, while holding those in power to account. But now the power to help us keep doing that is in your hands

Press Releases

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders