Long-term review: Audi Q3

Russell Campbell
April 17, 2019

It’s month two with our Audi Q3 and we’re rapidly coming around to its high-tech infotainment system. Read on to find out what makes it so brilliant. 

Month 2

We’re well into our time with the Q3 and, since our first update, its keys have been handed to carwow producer Sam who, along with having to lug heavy camera, also needs a boot that’s suitable for carrying Wilson, the carwow dog.

But while its interior is practical, it’s the Audi’s technology that really impresses Sam. The Q3 comes as standard with Android Auto and Apple Carplay, which means Sam can use the apps on her phone through the car’s big screen. That includes navigation app Waze – which has an ability to navigate around congestion that makes it a godsend in London – and Spotify which can create a playlist so moulded to your tastes it’ll shame the selections made by any radio DJ.

Something else that marks out the Audi’s infotainment from lesser units is its voice activation system. Compared to the infuriating system in our Kia Proceed long-termer, the Audi can understand spoken word commands so you don’t need to stick to a list of exact phrases like you do in the Kia, and the Audi’s also much better at dealing with accents. Important because the carwow office has a variety of voices that stretch from Glasgow to the South Coast with a little bit of Brummy sprinkled in for good measure.

The Audi’s also really good at the tech you can see. Its infotainment system is crystal clear and pretty to look at – which does make the lack of a rearview camera seem like a real omission – and the Virtual Cockpit remains as good as ever, wowing us with its ability to transform into an expansive sat-nav map at the touch of a button.

There are a few things we don’t like about the Q3’s infotainment though, such as the lack of a swivel-wheel control like you got in Audi’s of old.  Most of the time you can get away with using the car’s voice activation system but if it lets you down, you’re stuck with using the touchscreen which can be a pain to operate when you’re driving along.  

What’s been annoying us a lot more is our Q3’s combination of a 1.5-litre petrol engine and an automatic gearbox which so far has proved to be neither economical or fun to drive, more on that next month.

Month 1

Okay, so our Audi Q3 might not have beaten the Volvo XC40 in carwow’s group test but there’s still a lot to like about it. For one, it’s a smart-looking machine, particularly in our car’s specification. It’s an S line so gets lowered suspension, huge 19-inch alloy wheels and a sporty body kit. That Turbo Blue paint also turns heads.

10

As an S line, carwow’s Q3 looks nicer inside than a basic model thanks to its illuminated door trims, dark headlining and metal pedals. Our car has also been optioned with desirable kit such as a flat-bottomed steering wheel (£250), selectable multi-coloured ambient lighting (£100) and an upgraded Virtual Cockpit display (£250). The latter means the digital instrument binnacle increases from 10.25 to 12.3 inches in size. Other options include the £250 Storage Pack – it adds extra interior cubbies, a 12v power socket and additional boot lighting – electrically adjustable front seats (£675) that are heated (£300) and heated wing mirrors that fold away when you lock the car (£225). Lumbar support (£255), auto park (£300) and an uprated Audi Sound System (£275) complete the list. That little lot means our Q3 would set you back  £37,565 – a lot for what is a 150hp SUV with two-wheel drive.

That said, it does look and (for the most part) feel like an expensive car. The huge central infotainment has pretty graphics and crystal clear clarity and, nine times out of ten, its voice activation system does exactly what is asked of it. Just as well, because writing letters into the central screen with your left hand – if you’re right-handed – can be an infuriating process. But perhaps not quite as annoying as the numerous squeaks that have been cropping up around the cabin from behind the dashboard and somewhere near the rear seat. They’ll be fixed by a visit to the dealer, which we’ll report on soon.

What won’t be fixed by a visit to Audi are the hard interior plastics that you find on parts of the interior like the doors, and that the combination of the seven-speed auto and 150hp petrol engine can feel a little bit laggy when you’re nipping about town. And if that all sounds hard on the Q3 then it isn’t meant to. It has already shown itself to be extremely practical on an obligatory trip to the dump Reuse and Recycle Centre – its flat floor and lack of a load lip making it easy to fill the back with junk. It’s also a nice car to drive – once you get up to speed – with positive steering and a body that doesn’t lean too much in bends, we’re also quite keen on the pure white light of the LED headlights.

All of which means the Q3 hasn’t proven itself to be our knight in shining armour just yet, but it’s certainly no rogue either – can it push itself further into our affections over the coming months? You’ll have to wait to find out…