Here we go again then, another new Audi and another niche market to satisfy. Yawn. I’ve been quite vocal in my criticism over Audi’s increasingly lazy approach to styling and the fact that for the vast majority of the buying public, the brand has become this kind of untouchable hero. But credit where credit’s due, Audi is a monster and if they say we need a Q3 in our lives, then we must need a Q3 in our lives. Heck, I’m pretty sure if Audi released a four wheel drive Danish pastry, stuck four rings on the top in place of a cherry and charged £80 for it, people would be queuing in the streets.
In fact, Audi is confident that the Q3 will sell like hot cakes, proudly proclaiming that the Q3 offers;
“all the benefits of SUV ownership in a more compact and ‘city-friendly’ form”
Right you are then, so the Q3 is designed for those people who simply can’t do without an SUV when they reach the confines of the city? Of course, being an Audi it will be well built, a little shouty and offered with an array of optional extras. In the UK at least, it will be offered in SE or S line spec, with the latter offering goodies such as 18″ alloys, S line styling, xenon headlamps and yes, the all important LED daytime running lights. That’s a relief, I’d hate to think that the Q3 would be offered without the retina burning qualities of the daytime running lights.
But even in SE spec, the Q3 will be well equipped, featuring 17″ alloys, parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, retractable colour display screen and Concert audio system with iPod connectivity. Initially, three engines will be available – a 2.0 TFSI petrol unit with 170PS, another with 211PS and a 2.0 TDI with 177PS. The range is predominantly quattro focused, although a front wheel drive 140PS diesel version will be available soon after launch. Crucially this model will offer 54.3mpg, therefore making it the choice of the frugal buyer. Although you’ll need to think carefully should we get more snow next winter as you’ll look a little daft if your rugged, go-anywhere, “crossing continents” SUV gets stuck in your cul-de-sac.
The Q3 will be priced from £25,000 and will make its world debut at the Shanghai Motor Show in April 2011. Nothing more to say really. It will sell well, probably be accompanied by an annoyingly flash and sophisticated TV ad and will be seen filling up your rear view mirrors later in the year.
But of course, there is an alternative. A car that will cost you less to buy than the deposit on a new Q3. A car that was only available for a couple of years before it was cruelly killed off when its manufacturer went bankrupt. I give you, the Rover Streetwise. Based on the Rover 25, the Streetwise was billed as ‘the world’s first urban on-roader’, and however laughable this sounds, it seems remarkably forward thinking looking back. The Streetwise has a genuine ‘wipe clean’ feel to it, almost relishing car park scrapes and kerbed alloys. Of course, being front wheel drive only meant it was next to useless when the going got really tough, but then it never claimed to be an off-roader. Pick of the bunch would have to be the 2.0 TDI, but there are currently 65 of all variations for sale on eBay and I have to say, most of them look well cared for and in pretty good nick.
OK, I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out on this as there’s some more petrolhead logic at work here. Firstly, look at the figures:
Impressive eh? So the Streetwise weighs less, is marginally wider and only loses 7mpg on the fuel economy comparison. Not bad for an old diesel unit. But the real clincher is surely the price? So you have to do without some of the electronic gizmos and toys, but then there’s less to go wrong. I admit that the Streetwise isn’t a four wheel drive, but then realistically, how often do you need it? Yes, yes, you”ll have to do without the Audi build quality and things will fall off your Streetwise at some point, but then isn’t that all part of the fun?
Ah, I hear you cry, what about street cred? Well the Streetwise isn’t exactly dripping with credibility and it does have a bit of an image problem, but let me put it this way. When next winter comes and the snow falls once again, you’ll look less of a wally with a Streetwise stuck on your drive than you will with a £25k Q3. I also have a sneaking suspicion that Audi UK might agree with me too. The caption for the press pack photos is titled ‘the streetwise SUV from Audi‘.
Still not convinced? Let me put it this way. For the £25k Audi is asking for the Q3, you can purchase the absolute best Streetwise there is out there, plus a glorious Audi RS2 and still have change for a fantastic winter skiing trip to the Alps. The RS2 is a proper quattro and, with some looking after, won’t lose any value. In fact, it may actually increase in value. And if you’re really worried that your Streetwise may not have the same street appeal as the Q3, I’ll guarantee you’ll have some spare change left for a strip of LED lights from Halfords. Or wait until Christmas and pick some up from B&Q or Homebase.
Of course, it is your call, but I know where my money would be going. In the meantime, can I interest you in a Danish pastry?
Streetwise images courtesy of Rudolf Stricker.