With its distinctive styling, advanced technology, eye-catching lines and great handling, the Q3 is a compact SUV that loves to perform. And there’s a choice of engine styles and trim specifications to suit all needs.
The goodGreat looks and performance
The badNever the cheap option, but quality pays!
Audi Q3 35 TFSI 1.5-litre 150PS S line S tronic
While SUVs are flooding the motoring scene at the moment there are not that many models that offer dynamic performance yet still meet all the demands for practicality along the way – normally you must prioritise between one or the other.
Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule and the Audi Q3 is one of them, sitting alongside the likes of the Volvo XC40, Range Rover Evoque and BMW X1. These are premium models that combine luxury, great handling and off-road ability, yet can still be used for a family getaway with luggage and goodies galore.
Once the baby of Audi’s SUV line-up (a title now claimed by the Q2), the Q3 is a fabulous looking car with muscular and athletic styling. Eye-catching features include a huge front grille housing the Audi rings and number plate, twin tailpipes, tinted windows, sweeping light clusters with LED daytime running lights, body coloured door handles and mirrors, plus smart alloy wheels.
Move inside and the interior is of a high quality with lots of soft-touch surfaces, leather upholstery, heated front sports seats with power adjustment and four-way lumbar support, ambient lighting and a three-spoke multi-function flat-bottomed steering wheel. There is ’S’ badging on the seat backs and steering wheel as a gentle reminder that this is an S line model.
And of course, there’s a wealth of techno treats to explore with full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, plus Audi’s excellent virtual cockpit which allows you to personalise the information you see behind the steering wheel.
With plenty of seat movement along with ample steering wheel adjustment, getting a comfortable driving position is a quick and simple process and all dials and readouts are ideally placed for ease of use. Audi has ditched its traditional rotary dial in place of a 10.3-inch touchscreen which is simple to operate. However, it is good to see that all the climate control settings are positioned below this screen, so adjustments can made quickly on the move without having to navigate through an on-board computer system.
Costing £33,260 (£37,565 with options fitted), the Q3 in S line trim was powered by a 1.5-litre 150PS petrol engine mated to a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission. It could reach 62mph from a standing start in 9.2 seconds and maxed out at 128mph. According to official WLTP figures, it could deliver combined fuel economy of 36.7-38.2mpg with carbon emissions of 133g/km.
Although those performance stats may not sound particularly impressive, the manner in which the Q3 behaves certainly is. Out on the fast moving country lanes with lots of twists and turns, the car gripped the road like glue and was beautifully composed and balanced. The acceleration through the gears was swift and responsive, especially in Dynamic mode, and the steering wheel-mounted paddles are there for extra fun.
At times, it’s easy to forget you are driving an SUV thanks to the car’s agility and the Q3 cruises effortlessly at motorway speeds too eating up the business miles. From a refinement point of view, the cabin is well insulated against any road surface, engine or wind noise and the stiffened suspension on S line models does an excellent job of smoothing out the rough surfaces.
There is a choice of other drive modes apart from Dynamic when you want to calm things down a bit. These are called Efficiency, Comfort, Auto, Individual, plus an Off-Road setting, which along with Audi’s four-wheel-drive system, will keep you moving in more adverse weather and driving conditions.
In busy town centres, the visibility ahead and sideways is good thanks to the slightly elevated driving position, but the thick B pillars do block the over-the-shoulder view considerably. However, the Parking system plus (a £300 option) delivers warnings about any obstacles in front of, or behind the car.
When it comes to practicality, the Q3 can easily accommodate a couple of adults in the back with ample leg, head and shoulder space. A third passenger could squeeze in but their feet would need to straddle the large raised central tunnel.
Elsewhere, storage options are impressive with a boot capacity that ranges from 530 litres to 1,525 litres with the 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. There are deep pockets in all the doors, a covered central box, front and rear cup holders, a glovebox and a non-slip tray in front of the gear lever to stash away smaller items.
As one would expect from the premium German marque, the car is packed with all the latest safety kit and driver aids, making the Q3 a fabulous all-rounder for anyone with a little extra cash to spare who is looking for a premium SUV that boasts performance capabilities to match its dynamic styling.
Audi Q3 1.4 TFSI SE 150PS S tronic
The Audi Q3 may be the baby of the company’s SUV family, but it can certainly stand up for itself and packs a mighty punch along the way.
Buyers can select from a wide range of models with varying engines, power outputs, transmissions and design traits, and whilst the 1.4-litre 150PS petrol derivative may not be the most economical of the bunch, it is certainly worth exploring.
The Q3 is guaranteed to turn heads with its athletic styling complimented by 18-inch alloys, sweeping light clusters, twin tail pipes, tinted windows with chrome trim, body-coloured door handles and mirrors, plus roof rails.
And once you step inside the car its difficult not to be wowed by the spacious, driver-focused cockpit which is packed with Audi technology and creature comforts.
Features include an easy-to-operate sat nav system, an audio system with CD player which is compatible with all modern media devices, dual zone air conditioning, cruise control, LED interior lighting and plenty more besides.
The driver benefits from a high-seated driving position which results in excellent all-round visibility – this is a plus factor for a vehicle that will regularly be used on the school run.
And with practicality in mind, the Q3 offers generous storage options including a large boot which boasts a powered tailgate and can accommodate 460 litres of luggage which can be increased to 1,365 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats flat.
Elsewhere there are deep door pockets, good-sized cup holders, a central bin and a useful glove-box.
But, practicality aside, there is another side to the Q3’s character that simply cannot be overlooked.
For the Q3 boasts all the driving dynamics and handling capabilities associated with the Audi nametag and the 1.4-litre petrol-powered engine is quite a performer.
The car can sprint from 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds and tops out at 126mph.
According to official figures it can deliver combined fuel economy of 47.9mpg with carbon emissions of 138g/km.
The six-speed S tronic automatic gearbox is beautifully smooth and responsive. In addition, the drive select function means you can choose from four different driving modes – comfort, auto, dynamic and efficiency – which alter the car’s handling, driving dynamics, economy and fun factor.
In built-up city centres the car weaves its way through the traffic with ease and that great all-round visibility is a real plus factor when watching for other cars and manoeuvring into tight parking spaces.
Then out on the faster lanes and motorways the Q3 easily keeps pace with fast-moving traffic and when being driven with a lighter right boot, the car switches into fuel-saving two-cylinder mode.
The road-holding is superb and the steering is beautifully precise as the Q3’s highly-efficient suspension system somehow irons out the many creases and potholes along the way.
As one would expect, Audi has packed a comprehensive list of safety features into the car to help prevent accidents and protect occupants and pedestrians alike.
As is common with most premium car manufacturers, prices to tend increase quite swiftly when options are added, but the initial asking price for the test car was £26,275 which is very respectable. Options resulted in a £6,760 price hike, but it is still fairly competitive for such an impressive vehicle.
All in all, the Audi Q3 is an attractive model that makes for a practical, yet lively all-rounder with a price-tag that won’t break the bank.
Audi Q3 2.0 TDI Quattro S line 140PS
It may have some big SUV brothers in the form of the Audi Q5 and Q7, but the compact Q3 certainly packs a mighty punch too.
Long gone are the days when SUVs were big, bulky and cumbersome people movers.
And the Q3 is a perfect example of just how refined our larger, more versatile vehicles have become.
With dazzling Glacier White paintwork that is possibly visible from outer space, the test model looked amazing from every angle.
Despite being a compact model, it is very big on appeal with a bold, ready-for-action stance, tinted windows with chrome surrounds, neat alloys, sweeping headlights, roof-rails and body coloured door mirrors, handles and bumpers.
Audi is a premium brand and the Q3 exudes premium quality throughout with sophisticated and elegant touches at every turn.
It is feature-rich with technology including a brilliant multi-media sound system with Bose speakers, DAB radio, satellite navigation via a pop-up colour display screen, LED interior lights, dual-zone climate control and plenty more besides.
The soft Nappa leather seats offer excellent support and can be heated to beat off the winter chill. Elsewhere there are subtle reminders that this particular Q3 model is a little bit special with the S line emblem embossed into the seat backs and also at the bottom of the sporty steering wheel.
Admittedly, at £28,480 increased to £34,235 with the optional extras, the Q3 is not cheap but nor is anything about this vehicle. It oozes quality and has a performance to match.
The driver can choose a driving style to suit their mood thanks to Audi’s Drive Select system. There are four modes to choose from – comfort, auto, dynamic and efficiency and each mode brings its own benefits with it be it driving dynamics or economy.
Despite its size the Q3 proved exceptionally nimble when it came to manoeuvring through tight, winding bends and then out on the faster roads and motorways, the 2.0-litre diesel-driven engine delivered plenty of power to accelerate the vehicle through its six-speed manual transmission.
Occupants are treated to plenty of room and even back seat passengers can spread out with lots of leg, head and elbow space. Luggage restrictions will never be an issue either as the Q3 features a large boot capacity which can be increased further thanks to 60:40 split-folding rear seats.
Audi has packed a comprehensive range of safety features into the Q3 and it also comes with the company’s quattro four-wheel-drive technology which means never being caught out by one of Mother Nature’s bad moods!
All in all, the Q3 is a brilliant all-rounder – it’s big enough to transport a family with all their necessary requirements for an active lifestyle, but it’s compact enough to fit into your everyday way of life too.
Audi Q3 2.0 TDI 177PS quattro SE S tronic
Following sharply in the tyre tracks of its bigger brothers – the Q5 and Q7 – the beautifully crafted Q3 is certainly turning heads along the way.
And with its coupe-styled roofline, along with high-seated driving position, the Q3 is going to prove a real challenge to other premium SUVs such as the BMW X1 and Land Rover’s newcomer, the Evoque.
It looks great from all angles and a vehicle like this should be admired. The test model was supplied in a dazzling Samoa Orange shade that could barely go unnoticed!
The Q3 boasts rugged, ready-for-action curves complimented by neat light clusters, 18-inch alloys, aluminium roof rails, body-coloured door mirrors, daytime running lights, aluminium window trims and a massive panoramic sunroof.
And the quality and quantity of top notch gadgetry is just as apparent once you take your seat behind the multi-function steering wheel. There is wizardry at every turn with all dials, controls and readouts perfectly positioned for driver usability. Creature comforts are plentiful and include cruise control, a BOSE surround sound audio system with eight speakers – this is compatible with every music device imaginable.
There is Bluetooth connectivity, a highly efficient air con system, sat nav, auto stop/start, an auto-dimming rear view mirror and a list that seems to go on and on.
The cabin is elegant in its design without being garish in the slightest.
The black alcantara leather sports seats contrast beautifully with the interior design and the aluminium flashes scattered throughout the cabin again add to its style and finesse.
So the Q3 looks the business, is packed to bursting with class leading technology and comfort, but what about the vehicle’s performance?
Once again, you won’t be disappointed. The 2.0-litre diesel-powered engine delivers excellent power and acceleration and the automatic transmission is very smooth, efficient and responsive.
There is the option of using steering-wheel mounted paddle shifts if you so choose and the Audi drive select means you can also choose from four different modes which deliver engine, transmission and steering options.
I was surprised how quiet the drive was even on bouncy country lanes, but you could hear a pin drop. The road-holding was excellent and comfort levels were superb.
This Q3 model can reach from 0-62mph in 8.2 seconds and has a top speed of 132mph. Combined fuel efficiency is shown as 47.9mpg which is most impressive.
There is room for three passengers in the back – two in absolute comfort. And the generously-sized boot with the option of split-folding rear seats, means luggage restrictions won’t come into play.
If I had to pick fault, it would be visibility. With the information screen raised at the front and sun visors lowered, there doesn’t seem to be much windscreen left to look through. And the central rear headrest blocks the view out the back a little.
But that aside, the Q3 is a brilliant all-rounder and the silver quattro emblem emblazoned across the dashboard is a gentle reminder that it has all-wheel-drive capabilities.
Audi has packed a very comprehensive list of safety features into the Q3, such as anti-lock brakes, a tyre pressure monitoring system, hill hold assist, electronic stability programme, numerous airbags and a whole lot more besides.
All in all, the Q3 is a brilliant all-rounder. Admittedly, it’s not cheap – the test model was priced at £40k with £12k optional extras, but what price can you put on pure quality these days?