There’s no doubt that as a compelling, affordable and handsome small crossover, the new Audi Q3 should become a considerably more important model in the Audi range. The Q3’s segment is one of the hottest in the industry, so is it any surprise that Audi is considering what appears to be a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) version?
Spy photographers in the field have caught this black Q3 test mule out doing the usual rounds in warm weather locations. Given the new Q3 is already in the market, there’s no need for cladding or disguise. What makes this Q3 so interesting then is the “fuel filler” door on the front right quarter panel.
That cap is the telltale sign of a charging port. Just like other more recently revealed PHEV Audi models, it is expected that this Q3 may also share the latest “TFSI e” nomenclature, though arguably the first of the next-generation MQB transverse engine vehicles.
At Audi, the internal combustion engine (ICE) component sets are largely limited to longitudinal MLB-based models like A4 up to A8, or smaller transverse engine MQB-based models such as A1 and A3… plus all the derivatives like the Q3.
From an engineering and component set standpoint then, this new Q3 marks likely the first transverse-based “TFSI e” model. Yes, there’s already been the A3 e-tron that is both transverse and a PHEV, but the new nomenclature and this more evolved MQB hardware mark a shift forward in the space. Whether or not the A3 will carry on with a TFSI e version of its own remains to be seen, but the A3 e-tron has been pulled from the market in the USA and in Germany.
Also interesting to consider is whether the Q3 TFSI e will utilize some version of quattro all-wheel drive. In MQB terms, that’s typically the hydraulic clutch center differential-based system from Haldex. The A3 e-tron skipped quattro, so whether this new Q3 TFSI e gets Haldex, or some sort of rear electric drive remains unclear at this time.
Check out more photos below.