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…
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 a 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, however.
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.
In comfort mode, the Audi Q3’s seven-speed automatic gearbox responds about as quickly as an earthworm evading a hungry blackbird
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 very slow to 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, though.
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. These should help the Audi Q3 score highly when it’s crash-tested by Euro NCAP.