The Q3’s light controls and raised driving position mean it’s easy to drive and has plenty of grip in corners, but fun isn’t really on the menu
The Q3 has a simple engine range that includes a 150hp 1.4-litre petrol, a 180hp 2.0-litre petrol, and a 2.0-litre diesel with either 150hp or 184hp.
The 1.4 petrol is the best all-rounder. It’s smooth and quiet compared to the diesels and its 0-62mph time of 8.9 seconds means it feels pretty nippy. It’s a clever engine that can turn off two of its four cylinders to save fuel when the extra power isn’t needed. It gets claimed fuel economy of 51.4mpg, but in the real world expect to get more like 40mpg – that’s still pretty impressive for a petrol SUV.
You’ll be better served by the 150hp 2.0-litre diesel if you have a high annual mileage, which will give you a chance to recoup its cost through fuel savings. In two-wheel-drive form it’s claimed to get 61.4mpg and its extra low-down grunt makes it better than the petrol engines if you’ll often carry a full load of passengers and luggage.
If you want more performance go for the 184hp diesel. You’ll find it is just as quick as the 2.0-litre petrol and cheaper to run – but nowhere near as fast as the expensive, thirsty, but gorgeous-sounding RS Q3 performance model.
The Q3 drives well but doesn’t do anything to set your world alight
Four-wheel drive is available on all models except the 1.4-litre petrol. It makes sense if you drive on slippery roads or tow a trailer but it’s not really necessary and just hurts fuel economy.
In terms of gearboxes you can choose from a six-speed manual, a six-speed auto or a seven-speed auto. The manual’s easy to slot through the gears, but the autos are worth considering if you do a lot of town driving and want to give your clutch foot a rest – and they change gears quickly and smoothly.
The Q3’s light controls mean you’ll find it no harder to drive than a normal family hatchback and its raised driving position helps you plot a course through busy city streets. There aren’t many major blind spots and even basic Sport models come with rear parking sensors to take the stress out of shopping trips. S line Edition versions add front parking sensors and a rear parking camera. There’s also an automatic parking system for hands-free parallel and bay parking, but it’s a £175-500 option depending on the Q3 you pick.
Clear the city and you’ll find the Q3 to be quiet and comfortable. It goes over bumps well – so long as you don’t choose the sports suspension and big alloy wheels – and the cabin is quiet – you’ll only notice a little road noise at cruising speeds. You can make it safer on the motorway by specifying lane assist and a blind spot monitoring system for £900, but the Q3’s too old to come equipped with autonomous driving aids – you can’t even get active cruise control.
Sometimes you’ll wish it could drive itself simply because there’s not much fun to be derived from driving it yourself. The Q3 has lots of grip in corners and you can corner quickly without getting lots of body lean, but you feel a little detached from the process – a BMW X1 is more enjoyable.
Although the Q3 is available with quattro four-wheel drive for extra grip on slippery roads it’s nowhere near as capable as a Land Rover Discovery Sport off-road.