I drove the latest Audi Q3 recently. And it got me thinking.
I’ve heard of compassion fatigue - whereby an endless succession of charities make such relentless Tele- and radiothon-sponsored demands on the public purse that, eventually, the well indulges in a little covert self-sealing even if not strictly dry - but am now wondering whether we might be on the verge of an entirely new phenomenon which, for the purposes of this piece, I shall dub Quality Fatigue.
Audi: can we have too much quality?
One major pitfall of this job is the potential to start regarding the really quite exceptional as commonplace. Indeed, I haven’t forgotten a recent group outing hallmarked by one esteemed staff member’s pre-test adjudication: ‘We’re bored of Audis’ he said.
Now that’s an odd position to reach… And makes me wonder if the public have begun to feel the same way?
Audi Q3: the styling
Walter da Silva’s Big Grille, of which I still cannot approve, may have done a whisker too much to bring family-arity to the range’s road presence, but they certainly don’t all drive the same.
A quarter mile duration revisit of the A5 Sportback the other day (sorry; it was all I could stomach), allegedly re-fettled after the gentle roasting the ride quality received at launch, suggests that whoever eased off on the springs and dampers tightened everything right back up the moment no one was looking.
Audi Q3: the review bit
The latest 2012 Audi Q3, by contrast, is a very decent, if hardly memorable drive. What is memorable is the growing signs that, faced with an increasingly monstrous bill for champagne as new models grease down the slipway with a frequency that would tax even a Radio 5 Live tennis commentator, the company seems hard pushed to differentiate each new interior from the next.
In this case, the new constitutes little save – admittedly beautifully detailed - surround strip lighting to the front door loudspeakers and, erm, the centre console cupholders.
But let’s face it; to date, anyone who goes out to buy an Audi does it, to some extent, precisely because the average model interior is a seriously wholesome nugget of iron-clad design, bullet-proof build quality, intuitive ergonomics and the visual equivalent of hot chocolate with marshmallows, whipped cream and a Flake on top.
Mr and Mrs Punter have already signed up for that stock Audi interior, then, all they’re doing upon the prising open of the purse is selecting the size and shape of vehicle within which they receive it.
Audi and quality fatigue
So I am, I must confess, more than somewhat embarrassed by the fact that this remains my abiding memory of a car I lived with for a week, and many would kill to afford. Quality fatigue? Or have I simply allowed my senses to become submerged beneath the treacherous, yet strangely selective, Audi Swamp of Sameness?
Odd, because I don’t seem to suffer the same issues with Mercedes and, largely thanks to the Wisconsin Wunderkind (and the, ahem, road manners of all too many owners), don’t actually covet enough of the BMW model range to find myself over-concerned…
Mental note, then, to try harder to differentiate 'twixt Audis on your behalf in the future. However, short of sending every car out with Miss Whiplash primed and ready in the back, I’m not sure what the company can actually do to make the experience more memorable. Except, of course, rein right back in on the new model launch frequency…
And that, undoubtedly, falls into the Fat Chance category.