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Featured in the December 2011 issue

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Lincolnshire Life’s Simon Taylor was impressed when he put the new Audi Q3 through its paces.

The roads that run across the North Yorkshire Moors are fabulous, meandering not only along a horizontal plane but also a vertical one. As on a rollercoaster, the view from the high parts is spectacular; you plummet into a dark trough and ride the crest of the next rise, putting to the test all the dynamic elements of your vehicle as forces try to bottom out suspension and challenge the harmony of steering, brakes, power delivery and handling.

The new Audi Q3 coped with those roads with remarkable aplomb, resisting the forces pushing it to the limit and making what could have been a hair-raising experience into an exhilarating, enjoyable one.

Not all car makers would have allowed a new model to be subjected to testing in such rigorous conditions by lead-footed journalists - each on a mission to search out the slightest flaw in design and manufacture. It’s a testament to Audi’s supreme confidence in their product that the doors were thrown open wide to such a challenge.

Even though the latest Audi downsizes for easy urban use, there has been no compromise on cross country ability. Designed to be as capable within the confines of the city as it is crossing moorland, this compact SUV will hit the showrooms running when it goes on sale in November, priced from £24,560. Over two thousand advance orders have already been taken, reflecting public confidence in products of this premium brand.

While it is most stylish and most practical, it is not a huge load lugger with the pulling power of a tractor. It doesn’t purport to be anything other than a compact premium 4x4. It is actually quite a bit shorter than its big brother the Q5.

The predominantly quattro-equipped range (there is a two-wheel drive version that focuses absolutely on efficiency) belongs to the non-steroidal class of ‘gentle off-roaders of the refined kind’. In other words it does just what is needed by 99.99 recurring per cent of users. Farmer Palmer and Scott of The Antarctic will not want one.

Life in the well-appointed cabin with lots of standard equipment like dual zone climate control, concert hall quality audio and more, is particularly comfortable. Naturally there’s good visibility and that air of smugness that comes from being higher than most other road users. Driver aids are many and multifarious, ensuring safe and secure passage so that you need not fear whatever the highway gremlins may strew in your path.

A quantum leap forward for mSo why does a Q3 take the lead over the opposition? It’s rather like the difference between understated, made-to-measure apparel that comes - as all good things do - at a price. But a sensible one and designer label fashionable fripperies that ‘cost a packet’ and do not guarantee a pocket to put your hands in.

With an Audi you know to expect comfort, performance, style, safety, good residuals and a warm acknowledgement from fellow road users who are rightfully suspicious of undue ostentation and conspicuous flag-waving of the parvenu kind.

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