The next Q3 has new underpinnings, a roomier interior and contemporary electric architecture supporting many of Audi’s latest driver assistant systems. The changes are so extensive that sources call it a "comprehensive re-engineering". It's part of a Volkswagen Group programme that's also resulted in the launch of the Skoda Kodiaq, Seat Ateca and the latest Volkswagen Tiguan.
The car has grown in order to distance itself from its cheaper, smaller sibling, the Q2. Nothing is official yet, but sources suggest its length extends to around 4450mm and its width beyond 1860mm — increases of 60mm and 30mm respectively.
In comparison, the Q2 measures 4190mm long and 1790mm wide, while the recently launched second-generation Q5 is 4660mm long and 1890mm wide.
Based on the VW Group’s widely used MQB platform, the new Q3 is claimed to have shed up to 50kg over today’s model, which sits on older PQ35 underpinnings dating back to the second-generation A3 of 2003. This should bring the planned front-wheel-drive entry-level model, which is set to use a 128bhp 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, down to less than 1350kg, despite the Q3's growth in size.
Audi's engineers are also beginning to turn their attention to the hot SQ3 variant. That model is likely to arrive at the same time or very soon after the regular Q3. Spy photographers have captured the standard car during spells of winter testing and have also spotted the higher-specification version.
In typical Audi style, the SQ3's appearance is only lightly adjusted, with a lower ride height and larger wheels the clearest signals to its performance. It will serve as the range-topping model until the even hotter RS Q3 is produced.
As well as being lighter, the MQB architecture also provides the new Q3 with added structural integrity. Audi insiders cite a significant improvement in static and dynamic rigidity as being crucial to enhancements in the isolation of vibrations and the lowering of overall noise levels — factors that promise to make the Q3 a more adept long-distance proposition.