The Audi Q3's new engine may be smaller but it is still punchy
Quick 3 DIFFERENT AUDI ANIMAL: The Q3's steering wheel does not have any multi-function controls or shift paddles. It is possible, however, to change gear manually using the gear lever

SMALLER need not be slower as proven by the latest version of the Audi Q3. The Q3 is Audi's urban-friendly SUV which follows the same successful formula as the Q5 softroader, only more compact. Introduced here three years ago as a 2.0-litre quattro all-wheel-drive model, this stylish crossover is now available as a 1.4-litre front-wheel-drive alternative. The Audi Q3 1.4 TFSI has a turbocharged engine driving the front wheels through a six-speed S tronic twin-clutch transmission. Audi has other 1.4 TFSI models in its stable, such as the A3 Sedan and A1 Sportback. But the Q3 is not quite the same. Firstly, the 1.4-litre unit in the A3 and A1 produces only 122 hp, which means they are both COE Category A models. The Q3 1.4 TFSI, on the other hand, has been tuned for 150 hp, thus setting it firmly in Cat B. Then there is the matter of the gearbox. Both are called S tronic dual-clutch transmissions but the seven-speeder in the A3 and A1 uses a dry clutch, while the Q3 has a wet clutch. All this means is that the Q3 1.4 TFSI is a different Audi animal altogether. With 250 Newton-metres of torque, the baby SUV is as eager as a playful puppy. Set it to Sport mode and it accelerates briskly up to 60 kmh, despite the Q3's 1,405 kg kerb weight.

For a relatively tall car (1.6 metres high), the handling is tidy and the Q3 corners confidently. But at just 4.4 metres long and 1.83 metres wide, it is also a very good size for the urban context. The Q3 is highly manoeuvrable and the driver sits high with good forward visibility. Parking is especially easy.

With a high roof and 2,603 mm wheelbase, the Q3's rear bench has good head and legroom. But three adults may find it a bit snug in the back unless they're small. Up front, the Q3 1.4 TFSI looks just like the 2.0 TFSI quattro except for a couple of minor "entry-level" details. Its steering wheel does not have any multi-function controls or shift paddles. It is possible, however, to change gear manually using the gear lever. Incidentally, the gear lever also has separate slots for D and S because the Q3 does not have Audi's latest shift pattern interface which offers the electronic toggle between those two positions. Nevertheless, this premium little Audi is a very nice drive, with a spacious cabin that sets it apart from other small city-cars. Best of all, it still looks and feels as fresh as the day it was launched.