Audi Q3 Review
The Q3 has been a highly successful model for Audi for those wanting the 4x4 looks but not the bulky dimensions of cars in that segment.
- Striking exterior looks
- Good choice of engines including a new Cylinder on Demand unit
- Well-built Audi quality
- Boot shape limits what you can get in it
- Start-stop function can feel jerky
The compact SUV from Audi has been buyers’ ways into their successful Q model range, the Q3 was the baby of the much larger Q5 and Q7 until the Q2 came along.
As an affordable alternative it’s proved a popular model since its inception in 2011. The Q3 last got given a refresh in 2015 when more equipment and power had been high up on the Audi list as it continued to keep up with rivals such as the Mercedes-Benz GLA and Nissan Qashqai.
On the Road
The Q3 we had on test featured the 1.4-litre TFSI petrol engine with Cylinder-On-Demand technology which made its debut on the refreshed model. With 150PS it can get from 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds using the very smooth six-speed Audi S tronic automatic transmission that makes inperceptable changes.
It can shift along making it an ideal engine choice for this model but there are times, especially in Eco mode, where it feels rather laboured as it uses too high a gear at low speeds, obviously to help with fuel efficiency, but the result is that when overtaking on motorways you feel the obvious reduction in acceleration as it progresses through the box. The main problem is a momentary panic as it doesn’t accelerate quite how you expect leaving you glancing in the mirror thinking you’re just about to end up with the proverbial white van up your rear because you’re not quite up to speed...
It is good at hoovering up the miles as a long distance cruiser though; a trip to Sussex for the Goodwood Festival of Speed genuinely flew by.
Other engine options for the Q3 include a 2.0-litre TFSI quattro which produces 180PS and a diesel option, the efficient 2.0-litre TDI which comes with outputs of 150PS or 184PS, both figures have been increased over the equivalent previous generation.
Handling is very light, so much so that at times feedback isn’t that great and it can feel lairy at speeds going into corners and you have to overcorrect the steering. The 1.4-litre engine comes as front-wheel drive only, while the quattro option is available on the other engines.
Ride comfort has been improved and Audi have added their drive select system to the Q3 as standard so you can adjust the car setup to whatever suits your driving needs. The suspension feels less settled at high speeds and rear passengers will feel every bump and cats eye on the road - don’t attempt to drink out of a bottle if you are in the back...
If you go for 18-inch tyres then some noise is to be expected, apart from that though cabin noise is limited with no wind noise from the large wing mirrors.
The petrol engines are very quiet at tickover, the diesels can be noisy as you accelerate but it’s not that off putting as both variants aren’t obtrusive when cruising.
The start-stop system is great for efficiency but it isn’t that smooth, jolting when setting off again.
In the car
The Q3 comes with front sports seats as standard, although comfortable and produced in a cloth upholstery, adjustment of the seats are manual. Personally, I think any car that is above average in terms of cost should have seats that are electronically adjustable.
The cabin is well-laid out, clutter free and the 6.5-inch display screen is manually retractable. With the screen closed if you’re a passenger looking for the time you will have to keep leaning over to the driver’s side. A clock somewhere in the central console would help.
Bluetooth, iPod connectivity and navigation is available on the Q3 and information on the display is also relayed to the driver via a Driver’s Information System situated between the instrument dials.
There are three trim levels: SE, S line and Black Edition. LED daytime running lights come as standard on the SE specification with front sports seats, dual zone climate control, rear parking sensors and a full-body colour paint finish.
Black Edition adds high gloss black contrast bumpers and spoiler, privacy glass, black roof rails, 19-inch alloy wheels and metallic paint comes as standard.
There is plenty of space in the cabin for five adults and enough headroom in the rear. Getting child seats in and out of the car is straightforward with room to not struggle putting baby in the back.
The rear seats fold flat to increase the 420-litre boot to 1,325-litres but the shape of the boot is quite problematic as it is slanted rather than box shape at the rear so you need to plan how to fill up the boot. Fitting in a couple of suitcases, bags and a pushchair and it only just about went in, and that was for jsut two adults and a baby. There is a retractable luggage cover which helps to cover up any possessions you have in the boot and the powered tailgate helps when you have your hands full.
The Audi Q3 is priced from £27,910 which is well-priced in the compact SUV segment as the rival BMW X1 starts at £26,900.
It fails to match the Range Rover Evoque in terms of boot space as that has 575-litres but it is more than capable on taking on its rivals in other areas.
The 1.4-litre TFSI petrol engine with Cylinder on Demand technology emits just 127g/km so will cost £160 for the first year. A combined 51.4mpg figure can be achieved, we managed around the 40mpg mark so running costs will be good.
There is no expense spared on this smaller model of the Q family with the cabin built to a high quality, it feels solidly built and materials used are premium. The cabin features aluminium inlays and door sills, which make it look stylish and this carries through to the exterior with aluminium finishes on the front grille and window surrounds and the roof rails.
In the 2017 Auto Express Driver Power survey the Audi Q3 has ranked in the top 15 of best cars to own.
The Audi Q3 is fitted with airbags, rear parking sensors, Isofix child seat mounts, a first-aid kit and a light and rain sensor. To stop thieves driving off in it an alarm and immobiliser is fitted as standard.
There are various driving aids on the Q3 including electronic stability and braking systems.
The Q3 scored the maximum five stars in the Euro NCAP tests back in 2011 scoring 94% for adult safety and 85% for a child.