The baby of Audi’s SUV’s, the Q3 is an off-roader that is likely to see many more school runs than mountainous fields.
There is a choice of one petrol and 3 diesel variants of the same 2.0 four cylinder unit. Petrol: 1.4 TFSI with an impressive 150bhp complete with cylinder on demand technology on the 6-speed manual and S-tronic. Diesel: 2.0 TDI with 120, 150 or 184bhp with the same choice of transmissions. The S-tronic works best with the bigger diesel engine, while in the petrol it can’t quite make up its mind what gear to be in. The 1.4 TFSI is by no means slow and is eager off the mark but the diesel just suits the car better delivering punchy bursts of torque at the low end.
Being an Audi and an SUV, you would think Quattro would be a given, but due to the engine being mounted transversely, it gets the latest version of the clever Haldex all-wheel-drive system. Ground clearance is not bad at 170mm, but it’s not likely to spend much of its life off-road with the majority of owners. On the road, it handles very much like a conventional hatchback, albeit with a more elevated driving position. Body roll is minimal and it feels quite agile changing direction at a good pace. Fitted with Audi’s ‘Driver Select’ you can select damping between auto, comfort, dynamic and efficiency.
The Audi Q3 takes on stylish rivals in the shape of the Range Rover Evoque, the Mercedes-Benz GLA and BMW X1. More of a crossover really than an SUV, the Q3 is actually smaller than its Volkswagen Tiguan sibling. The entry level SE offers a perfectly comfortable ride soaking up Irish road lumps and bumps with ease, however you can feel much of the road impairments through the steering wheel which you would not expect. The 1.4 TFSI petrol is only really audible when pushed to the limit while the familiar diesel engine found in various siblings are impressively quiet and torquey.
Being a contemporary Audi, there’s no surprise that the cabin features a sleek and detailed design constructed from the finest of materials. It’s a clean cut design with garnishes of flair throughout. The manual touch TFT screen that displays the MMI infotainment system flicks and raises elegantly from the centre of the dashboard. The materials and the quality of the fit are of no surprise from an Audi with the Q3 branding a sporty multi-function leather steering wheel and matching gearknob. There are enough smattering of S-line badges throughout if you opt for the trim, complete with stylish contrast chrome fittings across the centre console. The air conditioning controls do however feel and look a little old school.
The Q3 looks and feels like a quality piece of engineering. It scored 5 star Euro NCAP for crash testing and that’s good news for potential owners. Like nearly every other Audi in the range, the Q3 gets six airbags as standard and electronic stability control. If you are fan of the latest technology in safety and wish to add further to your new car, there is a plethora of optional safety kit available, but they begin to add up very fast indeed. These range from active lane assist, road sign recognition and blind spot monitoring. Go for an S-line and you get Xenon headlights as standard.
The Audi Q3 may not the most practical choice in its class but it does get a 460 litre boot. There is no parcel shelf either, just a roller shutter now, meaning when you drop the rear sets to make more room, you can just clip it off and store it away. This does create 1365 litres of space but the rear seats do not fold flat. Space for front passengers is good while the high roofline in the back means head space is good for adult passengers while legroom is ample. You won’t be getting uncomfortable on long journeys.