2012 Detroit Auto Show: Audi Q3 Vail Concept
By Carl Malek
Customers in the United States who wanted an SUV offering from Audi were limited to two choices when visiting their local Audi dealer. Either the bulbous and Leviathan Q7, or the slightly smaller but still portly Q5. Customers who wanted something smaller had little choice but to go to Audi’s rivals BMW or Mercedes to downsize their purchase. Not anymore. In an announcement earlier today on the show floor of the North American International Auto Show, Audi announced that it plans to bring the pint-sized Q3 CUV to the North American market place. To further demonstrate its commitment regarding the Q3, the company even brought out the show car you see here the Q3 Vail Concept.
Taking its name from the world famous Colorado ski resort, the Q3 Vail concept was designed to help the small crossover appeal to “young fans of winter sports who love skiing or snowboarding.” Visually, the Q3 Vail presents a bold take on the Q3 while living up to its winter sport-themed nature (despite the current lack of snow in the Motor City). This all starts with the front end of the concept, which sports an aggressively styled grille with an aluminum skid plate, vertical aluminum accents, and more bits of aluminum trim nestled above the fog lights. Flared wheel arches help give the vehicle a more assertive stance and the roof is topped with aluminum roof rails specially designed for the Q3 Vail. The roof rails have the ability to hold and transport skis and snowboards.
The winter sports theme continues in the cargo area of the Q3 Vail, which Audi engineers have equipped with a special movable heated mat that can be placed over the loading area lip to give the occupants of the Vail a warm place to sit when they want to take a break from the slopes. Other thoughtful touches include a unique Thermos bottle and specially designed flashlights, both of which are capable of inductive charging. As a nice bonus, the flashlights also feature infrared heating elements which can be used for warming cold hands or an equally cold pair of ski boots after a day on the slopes.
To help the Q3 Vail slog its way through any snowstorm on its way to the local ski lodge, Audi engineers bestowed the concept with a turbocharged 2.5 liter five cylinder engine which is capable of producing 314 horsepower and 295 lb ft of torque. A seven speed automatic gearbox helps bring all of this power to all four Quattro driven wheels and allows the Q3 Vail to hit 60 mph in a swift 5.5 seconds.
US-spec Q3 production will begin in 2013 as a 2014 model-year vehicle.