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Audi Q3 Road Test Review

Audi Q3 Road Test Review


Motoring journalist and ex-racing driver, John Swift, takes a spin in the Audi Q3 and finds out why it remains the SUV to beat in its' sector.

Should I buy an Audi Q3?

  • Understated good looks and no 'look at me' shoutiness
  • High quality, tactile and inviting interior
  • Smooth ride even on bumpy roads
  • Gives you the feel-good factor
  • Good residual values mean excellent whole-life running costs

Explore the Audi Q3 range  Design your own Audi Q3

Audi Q3 Road Test Review

The market for SUVs is getting very crowded and Audi offers five of them in different sizes from the little – but, very good Q2 – to the mighty, and soon to be released, Q8; and when the Q4 arrives next there’ll be a Q family of six.

One of the most popular of the Q family has been the mid-size Audi Q3 which competes against other premium cars from BMW, Mercedes and Range Rover, as well as excellent cars such as the latest version of the one that started it all, the Nissan Qashqai.

Blue Audi Q3 two thirds front on outside stately home

What does the Audi Q3 look like?

Styling 4/5

It’s a typical SUV in that it sits high on big wheels, but is also typically Audi in the slim headlamps and the now familiar radiator grille which is becoming uniform across the Audi range. It looks understated compared to some – the main premium badged rivals such as the Evoque, Merc GLA and the BMW X2 in particular – but some (me included) quite like that. It looks very neat, unfussy and I’m rather taken by the suggestion of coupe styling at the back with those heavily raked D pillars framing the back window.

It’s been said to the point of boredom, but it’s nonetheless worth repeating, that the aesthetics of a car are mainly subjective and in the case of this writer, the Q3 gets the thumbs up in its quiet approach over the more ostentatious looks of some others.

Blue AAudi Q3 side on outside stately home

What's the interior of the Audi Q3 like?

Interior 4/5

Quality, you take that for granted, elegance too for that matter inside any Audi and the Q3 more than delivers everything you want in those respects. The plastics and materials you touch and see are high grade, the seats are comfortable, the dash and instrumentation looks inviting and the Q3 has that indefinable sense of making you feel very much part of the car as you slip behind the wheel.

Drivers seat interior view of Audi Q3

The front seats are fine, but the ones behind are not especially good for adults; while that sloping roofline looks sporty it does restrict the headroom available underneath, nor is the boot space the biggest in this sector. I would also urge a note of caution on the spec level because it’s all too easy to start ticking the options list and pushing up the cost. This is a danger when you’re spec-ing up any new car, but you need to pay particular attention with the premium brands.

That said, you can forgive so much when you appreciate touches like the soft glow of hidden illumination in the cabin at night and the tactile experience of those parts you touch or the comfort of the driver’s seat.  It is a nice place to be.

What's the Audi Q3 like to drive?

Driving 3/5

This is a little bit old-school Audi and a little bit old-school SUV because the steering can feel a little vague and doesn’t connect to your neural system as effortlessly and faithfully as, say that in the BMW. Point it into a bend and it’s not instantly apparent if the car will follow your anticipated course because the steering and suspension between the front wheels and you filter out some of the messages you need; however, maybe that’s just me talking as someone who enjoys feeling really involved when I’m driving.

What the Q3 does do well, surprisingly so actually, is, providing your car has the smaller diameter wheels, it rides well over all but the worst of our broken roads. SUVs place competing demands on their designers. On the one hand, they need to stiffen the springs and anti-roll bars to prevent motion sickness as the leverage of the raised ride height makes the car wallowy in the bends or when braking. On the other hand, they need to have a reasonably comfortable ride. Some I can think of are utterly defeated by this and are positively unpleasant, but the Audi caught my attention for all the right reasons.

Under the bonnet you have the choice of 1.4 or 2.0 litre petrol engines or a 2.0 diesel. The little petrol engine is for front wheel drive versions only, the 2.0 exclusively with the Quattro drivetrain and the diesel either/or.

Yellow Audi Q3 driving towards you on amazing road

The bigger petrol engine is great, a good choice, the smaller one is game, but struggles a little under load. We all know that diesels are being driven out of favour, but the endless torque available from this one is so perfectly suited to an SUV that it is certainly worth a look.

It’s smooth, nicely insulated and with a seven speed semi-automatic ‘box never seems fussy or busy making progress feel relaxed. You have to factor in the fuel economy as well, because comparing like-for-like trim specs, the diesel averages 61 mpg, the 2.0 petrol 42 and the 1.4 48 so there are significant cost savings depending on your mileage.

Should I buy an Audi Q3?

Verdict 4/5

The Q3 is not the latest car in the Audi model range, or the newest one in this sector, but still has so much in its favour. The styling gets a big tick from me, as does its ride and the interior from the driver’s perspective. Residuals are good which has a big and beneficial effect on finance packages and whole-life running costs.

If you’re thinking of an Audi, you have certain expectations, on quality, performance, styling, of wanting a certain panache that makes you feel good about yourself every time you drive it - yes, even in our traffic and on our roads; then the Q3 may not be perfect, but it does give you all that!

Yellow Audi Q3 two thirds side on with mountain and sky backdrop

Facts & Figures for the Audi Q3

Audi Q3

From £27,915

Model tested 1.4 TFSI Sport S tronic


0 to 60mph: 9 seconds

Top speed: 127 mph

Average mpg: 48

CO2: 136 g/km

Main service: 20,000 miles/24 months

Explore the Audi Q3 range  Design your own Audi Q3