Audi Q3 Review
The Audi Q3 is an upmarket compact SUV that delivers owners loads of high-tech features and lots of cabin space. It’s not that enjoyable to drive, however
- Packed with tech
- Roomy cabin
- Big boot
What's not so good
- automatic gearbox can feel unresponsive
- Less fun to drive than some alternatives
- Some desirable features cost extra
- Choose your perfect car
- Dealers come to you with their best offers
- Compare offers and buy with confidence
Audi Q3: what would you like to read next?
The Audi Q3 is a stylish small SUV that combines the sort of high-tech features you expect of a premium car and a cabin that provides an enormous amount of space. It is an alternative to a BMW X1 or a Mercedes GLA.
Of course, it’s far from the only Audi SUV available, but the Q3 is larger and more suitable for families than the more city-focused Audi Q2, and smaller as well as cheaper to buy and run than the more premium-feeling Audi Q5.
Overall the Q3 is a bit like one of those dwarf conifers you might put in a small pot in your front garden: its shape is distinctive and you can tell exactly what it is immediately, but it is noticeably smaller than most of its relatives – in this case a full-size SUV like the Audi Q7. In fact, the Q3 gets quite a few design features that link it to its larger SUV siblings. The prominent octagonal grille looks like a smaller version of the Q8’s, for example. The similarities go deeper than a family face, though – you’ll spot a good few similarities with other Audi SUVs when you climb inside, too.
There’s an integrated touchscreen in the big black dash that feels as though it was destined for much higher-spec models. Plus, there’s a digital driver’s display instead of conventional dials on every Q3 – even the most basic ones.
Everything you’ll likely touch feels high quality, including switches and general cabin materials. Fancy-feeling suede-like Alcantara dash trim is even available, and in various colours. There’s standard mood lighting, too, and leather upholstery from mid-range cars upwards.
Insidethe front seat positions give you loads of head- and legroom in the front seats, even if you’re tall, and it’s pretty easy to get comfy whatever your size or shape.
Over in the rear seats, the Q3 offers loads more room than you’ll find in many alternatives, and you can slide the rear seats forwards and backwards to prioritise either passenger legroom or boot space as standard.
Speaking of which, the Audi Q3’s boot is significantly more spacious than in most alternatives. Even with the back seats in their most rearward position, there’s more space for luggage than you get in the BMW X1. Fold the back seats down and the Audi Q3’s boot is flat, easy to load and big enough to carry a bike.
There’s no doubt the Audi Q3 has been inspired by the vast Q8 SUV – that giant grille, for example, makes it look just like a toddler that’s trying on its Grandparent’s dentures
If carrying lots of luggage is a regular occurrence for you, you’ll want to pick an Audi Q3 with a more powerful petrol or diesel engine. There are five to choose from, including a sporty 230hp four-cylinder turbocharged petrol. If you spend more time in town, go for a 150hp or 190hp petrol while one of the two 2.0-litre diesels will be a much better bet if you do lots of long motorway journeys.
You can choose between a fairly smooth six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed automatic across the Audi Q3 range, but the latter’s a bit slow to respond when you put your foot down. The more powerful models come with the option of four-wheel drive for extra grip in slippery conditions, and you can get adaptive suspension to make the driving the Audi Q3 feel a tad more sporty.
Even with this suspension fitted, the Audi Q3 is more at home on the motorway than on a twisty mountain road. It cruises along quietly and comfortably, especially if you avoid the sports suspension (that’s standard on S line cars) and stick with smaller alloy wheels.
The Audi Q3’s tall body and light steering mean it’s pretty easy to drive in town, and you can get it with a clever 360-degree camera system that helps make parking pretty stress-free, too. You also get plenty of active safety kit as standard, but you’ll have to pay extra for adaptive cruise control.
The Audi Q3 does look a little more expensive next to an equivalent BMW X1, Mercedes GLA or Volvo XC40 at brochure price, but its long list of standard equipment goes some way to making up for that. All-told, the stylish and spacious Audi Q3 makes an excellent small family SUV.
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The Audi Q3 might be a fairly compact SUV, but there’s loads of space inside for tall adults – the only real criticism is that there’s a large lump in the floor that cuts into a middle passenger’s foot space
You can slide the rear seats backwards to maximise passenger space or forwards to give boot space a healthy boost – just like in many MPVs
The Audi Q3’s tall body and boxy styling mean there’s plenty of space inside. You’ll have more than enough room to get comfortable in the front if you’re very tall, and there’s ample adjustment in the seat and steering wheel to help you easily find your ideal driving position.
Manual seat adjustment comes as standard, but you can upgrade to a mid-range S line model to get electrically adjustable seats with added lumbar support to help prevent annoying backache on long drives.
Space in the back seats is very good, too. The Q3’s tall body and fairly large rear door openings mean you don’t have to stoop or step down to climb in and even six-foot-tall adults have enough leg and headroom to sit behind an equally sizeable driver.
There’s plenty of space under the front seats for your rear passengers’ feet, but a sizeable lump in the floor means someone sitting in the middle will feel slightly more cramped than those in the outer two seats. Shoulder space is still pretty good though, so you can carry three adults side-by-side for reasonably long journeys without them having too much to complain about.
You can also slide the rear seats forwards and backwards by up to 15cm to give your passengers a smidge more legroom or expand the boot if the back seats aren’t being used. With the rear seats moved as far forward as they go, there’s only enough legroom for kids or small adults to sit in the back, though.
Fitting a large child seat is much easier with the seats slid backwards. There’s plenty of space to lift the seat through the Audi Q3’s rear doors and the Isofix anchor points are simple to locate, too.
The Audi Q3’s front door bins are wide enough to hold a 1.5-litre bottle each and there are two large cupholders in the centre console that’ll think nothing of swallowing a giant service station coffee. The glovebox is reasonably deep – but nothing to write home about – and there’s space for a few drinks cans or a couple of phones under the central armrest in the front.
In the back, you get another folding armrest between the rear seats with two built-in cup holders and space for a 1.0-litre bottle in each rear door bin. Beside each outer rear seat, there’s a handy storage tray that’s big enough to tuck plenty of assorted family bits and bobs neatly out of sight.
The Audi Q3’s 530-litre boot is larger than that in the BMW X1 and significantly more spacious than in the Mercedes GLA. It’s large enough to carry as many as four suitcases and plenty of bulky soft bags under the load cover but you can slide the rear seats all the way forward to boost its capacity by an extra 215 litres – just be careful not to lose small items in the deep gap behind the back seats.
If you need to carry tall boxes, you can lift out the parcel shelf and store it in a handy gap under the boot floor – although you will need to remove two small boards before it’ll fit properly. The boot floor itself is height adjustable to minimise the load lip by the boot opening, too. With it in its most raised position there’s no load lip to worry about so it’s easy to slide in heavy boxes.
The back seats flip down in a three-way split so you can carry two passengers in the back and some long luggage poking through from the boot at once. You have to flip the seats down from the back doors rather than the boot, but once they’re folded away the Audi Q3’s loadbay grows to 1,525 litres – only just shy of the space you get in a BMW X1.
There’s enough room to carry a bike with both its wheels attached and the flat floor makes it easy to slide large or heavy items right up behind the front seats. You also get some tether points and shopping hooks to stop smaller items rolling around when you’re driving.
The Audi Q3 is a doddle to drive and comes with a fair amount of safety kit as standard, but if you’re after for a sporty SUV you’ll have to look elsewhere…
In comfort mode, the Audi Q3’s seven-speed automatic gearbox responds about as quickly as an earthworm evading a hungry blackbird
You can get the Audi Q3 with three petrol and two diesel engines and with either a manual or an automatic gearbox. Most come with front-wheel drive as standard, but you can pay extra to get more powerful models fitted with quattro four-wheel drive instead.
If you don’t do many miles a year, you’ll want to choose the 35 model with a 150hp 1.5-litre petrol engine. It’s slightly slower than the cheapest diesel models (accelerating from 0-62mph takes a pretty leisurely 9.3 seconds) but it’s smoother and will prove cheaper to run if you do lots of short journeys around town.
There’s a more powerful 40 model with a 190hp 2.0-litre petrol engine – that’s worth considering if you do a mix of inner-city and countryside driving – and an even sportier 230hp model in 45 trim. The latter’s more expensive to buy and can’t match the fuel economy of the diesel versions on motorway journeys. It will accelerate from 0-62mph in a reasonably brisk 6.3 seconds.
If you’re a high-mileage driver, one of the two diesels will be much more suitable. Your choice consists of two 2.0-litre four-cylinder units producing 150hp and 190hp. The former – called the 35 – is pretty sluggish, but suits those looking for an economical motorway cruiser. The 190hp version is faster and returns similar fuel economy, but it costs more to buy.
Neither diesel can match the smoothness of the petrol engines, but they all settle into a quiet cruise without any unpleasant vibrations or drones.
The standard six-speed manual gearbox is relatively slick and easy to use in traffic, but if you regularly get stuck in long tailbacks you’ll want to upgrade to the optional seven-speed automatic. It doesn’t lurch at slow speeds and helps take the stress out of long drives but can be slow to hook up from a standstill and change down when you accelerate hard to overtake slow-moving traffic – especially in comfort or eco mode.
You sit higher up in the Audi Q3 than in a conventional family car, so you get a good view out over traffic. The pillars between the windscreen and the front doors aren’t particularly large, but it’s still a touch tricky to spot smaller cars approaching at junctions.
Rear visibility is pretty good, though, and you can get parking sensors and a 360-degree surround-view system to help make the Audi Q3 easy to park. In all but Dynamic mode, the steering’s nice and light, too, so your arms won’t start to ache when you’re manoeuvring the Audi Q3 through tight city streets.
Speaking of which, the Q3’s standard suspension does a decent job ironing out the sort of bumps you’ll find in town. Models with the lowered sports suspension and larger alloy wheels feel significantly firmer.
You can pay extra to get the Audi Q3 with adaptive suspension that lets you choose between softer, comfort-focussed setups and stiffer, more sporty settings. Even in the firmest Dynamic mode, however, the Q3 is no sports car. It doesn’t lean too much in tight corners, but the sluggish automatic gearbox and light steering contribute to it feeling less athletic than a BMW X1.
Head out onto a motorway, though, and the Audi Q3 shows itself to be a comfortable and relaxing cruiser. You won’t hear a great deal of wind or tyre noise at speed, but you do have to pay extra for adaptive cruise control that’ll help maintain a safe distance between you and other cars.
Other features you’ll want to consider forking out for include rear cross-traffic assist – that’ll help stop you reversing out of parking spaces into the path of other cars – and traffic jam assist that’ll accelerate and brake for you in heavy traffic.
Thankfully, automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist and blind-spot detection all come as standard. Something that contributed towards the Audi Q3 achieving the full five stars in its Euro NCAP crash test.
The Audi Q3’s interior looks far more futuristic than in most small SUVs. It gets lots of kit as standard, too, but the most eye-catching trims and colours are reserved for top-spec cars
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