Audi are right in the middle of a sweet spot at the moment. Their current model line up are all lookers and come with some of the best designed and quality interiors you are likely to find in a premium level car today.
The newly revised Q3 is no different and in the right specification, it can be a real eye catcher. You could be forgiven for realising that this is in fact a revised model as it looks almost identical to the model that was first introduced in 2011. It now gets LED day runners as standard and a beefed up chrome grille accent that now reaches the headlights. Our particular test car happens to be one of those nicely spec’d Audi’s, and finished in Hainan Blue Metallic, it receives either complimentary glowing glances or envious demon stares from every young mother on the road. Admittedly it would not be my first choice of colour but it really made the Q3 pop.
Our test model was the Q3 S-Line fitted with the 1.4 TFSI 4 cylinder petrol and very clever cylinder deactivation. It also happened to be loaded with an eye watering €11,240 worth of optional extras. Considering you can drive away in a Dacia Duster for €14,990, if you have the means, it certainly shows how carried away you can get with Audi’s plush options list. The options included sports steering wheel with paddle shifts, 7-speed s-tronic transmission, electric boot lid, piano black inserts, driver info with colour display, 19 inch Audi Sport Titanium alloys, Audi S-Line leather package with heated seats, Keyless go, Audi MMI Nav Plus, LED headlights, Interior LED lighting package and metallic paint. None of this makes the car drive any better to drive, but they do make it a very, very nice place to be.
Considering the exceptional finish to the Audi Q3’s interior, it does not feel particularly spacious for an SUV. The seats are very comfortable and the driving position is good. If you are of 6ft of taller, the rear passengers however, are likely to suffer. I have two young children, one which is in a booster and one still in a baby seat and both could comfortably reach the back of the front seats with their feet. One week late and one packet of baby wipes down, the back of the seats looked brand new handing it back. Boot space is standing at 460 litres (A3 Sportback 380litres and A3 saloon 440litres) so you do benefit from the Q3’s SUV styling gaining an additional 20 litres of space and the benefit of exceptionally easy access provided by the large opening tailgate.
On the road, despite being an SUV, it does perform quite well offering a supple ride and it feels reassuringly planted at motorway speeds. You can choose between comfort, efficiency and dynamic in driver setup, but being an SUV, I just left it in comfort the whole time. Its chassis doesn’t hate corners either and handles them just as well as its A3 hatchback counterpart. Disappointingly, the dashboard remains largely unchanged from the model it replaces does not receive the latest Audi streamlined design. That said, the quality is still there but its dated design does let the interior down somewhat.
This Q3 however is mostly about its engine. Its 1.4 TFSI petrol is remarkably punchy and is mated to the 7-speed s-tronic gearbox which makes the most of the power available. While it may be down on grunt compared to its diesel, it produces 120hp and feels far from underpowered considering the size of the Q3. While petrol still may not be the fuel of choice here in Ireland, sentiment is changing and this 4 cylinder TFSI makes a strong argument for itself. It features cylinder deactivation meaning that when you are pootling around town, the engine will shut down two of its cylinders using the minimum amount of petrol. Call on the power and it will ignite all 4 cylinders and bring you from 0-100kmh in 8.9 seconds. The result is a combined fuel consumption of just 5.9l/100km (47.9mpg) with C02 emissions of just 136g (17% more efficient) putting it in Tax Band B2 €280.
When you stand back and take a look at the Q3, it is blatantly obvious that it knows its target market very well. Its design, interior and build quality are the result of that current Audi sweet spot making it one of the most desirable premium brands on the road today. Starting at €35,100, it looks and feels every cent of its price tag. While I would advise ticking a couple of the above options to include the S-Line package, MMI Nav plus and s-tronic gearbox, you could happily live without them. Damn those options lists!
Looks great in that colour of blue - but it can be a bit bland in real life.