£26,150 - £36,945 Price range
40 - 62 MPG
The Audi Q3 is the smallest SUV that the firm sells (prior to the arrival of the all new Audi Q2) and it’s been treated to a facelift to keep it up to speed with accomplished rivals such as the BMW X1, Range Rover Evoque and Lexus NX.
The firm has now revealed the smaller Audi Q2 compact SUV – check it out if you think the Q3 might still be a little too big for your needs. Can’t decide between the two? Read our Audi Q2 vs Q3 comparison.
Visual changes include a new framed grille (that puts the Q3 in line with models such as the new A4, Q7 and TT), standard Xenon headlights and revised LED taillights that, in S line models and above, have eye-catching scrolling indicators. The changes combine to freshen up what was already a smart looking design, if one that lacks the flair offered by the Range Rover and Lexus.
Revisions to the engine range, including the addition of the clever cylinder-on-demand 1.4-litre petrol, mean that fuel economy has been improved by up to 13 per cent and power increases by up to 10hp.
The old model was often criticised for its firm ride, but revisions to the new car’s setup go some way to improving this. S line models, with their sports suspension and large 19-inch wheels, are still a little on the firm side, but buyers can choose the SE’s softer suspension at no extra cost.
With a bigger boot than the similary sized Audi A3, the Q3 makes a strong case for its self as a family wagon and there’s space on the back seat for six footers, even if there are already tall adults sitting in the front.
All models come fitted with a 6.5-inch colour display, alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, climate control and electric lumber sport for the front seats, but cruise control is optional on all but the top of the range model. Read our colours and dimensions guides to see if the Q3 is the right car for you.
If you’re looking for a more style-focussed SUV, our Audi Q4 price, specs and release date article will give you full details on the Q3’s upcoming sister car – a slinky SUV Coupe.
Audi’s a master at building premium interiors so it’s no surprise to find the Q3’s oozes quality. Cheap-feeling plastics are notable only be their absence and everything is clearly laid out and, on the whole, easy to use.
If we were being harsh, though, we would mark down the Q3 for a lack of clever design touches, which makes it seem ever so slightly dated next to the firm’s newer models. Q3 owners can’t spec Audi’s high-tech looking Virtual Cockpit and the car lacks feel-good interior touches such as turbine-style vents you get in the TT. Specifying the optional LED Interior Light Pack (£245) cures this to a certain extend by illuminating parts of the interior with cool white light.
The optional sat-nav works well via the standard 6.5-inch display, but the control interface is a little dated, needing characters to be selected one at a time rather than quickly typed.
Audi Q3 passenger space
Despite being the smallest SUV Audi sells, the Q3 is decently spacious. Even with two six-footer adults in the front, there’s space for two people of a similar size in the back, but a third passenger will feel squeezed and the Q3’s transmission tunnel means their feet will have to slide in under the front seats. Small rear doors mean the back of the car is also harder to access than the front.
Families will be happy to see there’s plenty of interior storage space thanks to a large glovebox, pockets on all four doors, two cupholders between the front seats and a centre armrest with a storage bin hidden underneath that also houses the car’s smartphone connection.
Audi Q3 boot space
Open the Q3’s boot (electrically operated in all but the base model) and you’ll see another reason to choose a Q3 over a regular hatchback – luggage capacity. With a 420-litre boot the Q3 has 55-litres more than a similarly sized Audi A3 and the gulf only gets bigger with the rear seats folded down – the small SUV offering a total load capacity of 1,365 litres compared to the hatchback’s 1,100 litre boot.
Audi is often marked down for making its cars too stiff and it’s a complaint that can be levelled at the Q3. In S line trim, with its big alloy wheels and lowered suspension, it can ride harshly over roads that rivals – the Range Rover Evoque in particular – glide over with little fuss. Arguably, the Q3’s ride lacks the sophistication of the rest of the car.
Attack the bends and the news is a little better. We found the Q3 has excellent body control and little lean, so even a series of corners can be tackled without feeling the car could get out of shape – the huge tyres fitted to S line and S line Plus models mean there is plenty of grip on offer so you’ll have to make a concerted effort to find the car’s limits and it feels a lot happier in quick corners than a cheaper rival such as the Kia Sportage. Trouble is, while the Q3 is impressively composed, it lacks the meaty steering of the Evoque that serves to make it more fun to drive.
The manual six-speed gearbox is easy to use, although sixth gear is best reserved for fuel economy, giving little in the way of acceleration at motorway speeds. The optional seven-speed DSG auto is a £1,500 option that is worth considering if you regularly drive in town.
As with most of its rivals, four-wheel drive is an option in the Audi and one you’ll rarely get much use for unless you often encounter slippery roads.
Audi offers the Q3 with a choice of three petrol engines and two diesel units. New to the range is the 1.4-litre petrol, which uses clever cylinder-deactivation technology to rest half the engine and save fuel.
Audi Q3 diesel engines
Accounting for the bulk of sales is the 2.0-litre diesel engine that is available in two states of tune, with either 148 or 182hp. The former gets from 0-62mph in 9.6 seconds, returns fuel economy of 60.1mpg (in fuel-saving two-wheel drive form) and costs £110 to tax thanks to CO2 emissions of 122g/km. Arguably, it’s the best all-rounder in the range.
The more powerful diesel only comes with Quattro four-wheel drive, so its fuel economy of 51.4mpg and yearly road tax bill of £145 isn’t so bad and performance takes a noticeable step up, with 0-62mph taking 7.9 seconds and plenty of overtaking power even at motorway speeds.
Both diesels suffer from noticeable clatter on startup and their engine noise is louder than we would like at a fast cruise, too.
Audi Q3 petrol engines
The 2.0-litre petrol is rendered almost obsolete by the top-of-the-range diesel, which is nearly as quick and much cheaper to run. The 1.4-litre model, however, is worth considering. Its cutting edge technology means it can return fuel economy of 49.6mpg, CO2 emissions of 131g/km (for road tax of £130 a year) and gets from 0-62mph in a spritely 9.2 seconds. A big selling point is that it’s more than £1,500 cheaper than the basic diesel.
Audi Q3 RS
Topping the range is the 2.5-litre petrol of the RS Q3. It gained an extra 30hp over its predecessor in the 2015 facelift, pushing maximum output to 340hp and 332lb ft of torque. In a car with all-wheel drive mated to Audi’s S-Tronic dual clutch gearbox, performance is startling. It shoots from a standstill to 62mph in only 4.8 seconds, and reaches a limited 155mph top speed. Other Q3s get an option of either a six-speed manual or the S-Tronic automatic.
The Audi Q3 was tested by Euro NCAP for crash safety in 2011, achieving a five-star rating. However, it’s worth remembering that the NCAP tests are much tougher now than they were back in 2011.
Stability control is standard, as are seatbelt warnings for all passengers. Delve deeper into the spec lists and you’ll find automatic lights and wipers. Opt for an S-Line plus, and parking is aided by Audi Parking System Plus.
In general the Audi Q3 is a well equipped car. All models come with alloy wheels, DAB digital radio, dual-zone climate control and a powerful basic stereo, while preparation for SD based sat-nav means the system can be retro fitted after purchase.
Dig a little deeper, however, and there are some strange omissions – one of them being cruise control. Audi will charge £225 extra to fit a system that is bound to prove useful to most owners.
Audi Q3 S line
One of the biggest complaints of S line trim used to be that its suspension was too stiff, but now buyers can choose to keep the standard car’s setup at no extra cost. Best to try both before choosing which you prefer. Aside from that, S line trim gets you the familiar upgrades of a subtle body kit and big 18-inch alloy wheels (up from 17-inches in SE models), plus a few convenience extras such as powerful LED headlights and an electrically operated bootlid.
Audi Q3 S line Plus
S line Plus models sit at the top of the range and are the only ones to come with any form of cruise control as standard – the more expensive active cruise control system. Also on the standard kit list are headlights that dip automatically, Alcantra/leather seats and 19-inch alloy wheels.
Audi Q3 Black Edition
The Black Edition is Audi’s latest range-topping addition to the Q3 range. This trim level brings black wheelarch mouldings, a black-painted grille and darkened roof rails to the exterior and a wealth of standard kit to the cabin. Read our Audi Q3 Black Edition guide for full details
With the arrival of the new BMW X1 and the Lexus NX, the Audi Q3 may not be the freshest small SUV on the block, but its mid-life faclift has given it the spit and polish needed to make the old car’s likeable attributes shine brighter.
It might not share the concept-car design of the Lexus NX, but it looks every inch a premium product and is arguably easier on the eye than the BMW X1. And, while it may not drive as well as the BMW, it feels safe, handles with precision and, if you avoid the top-of-the-range petrol, is cheap to run.
If you’re looking for a Golf-sized car, but with more space and a premium badge, the Audi Q3 is still one of the best options out there.