Review: Audi Q3 (2018)
Premium interior. Very practical.
1.5 TSI petrol engine disappointing with S tronic automatic gearbox.
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Audi Q3 (2018): At A Glance
Buyers of premium compact SUVs have a difficult decision to make. The Mercedes-Benz GLA and BMW X2 are both excellent, while the slightly leftfield Volvo XC40 is arguably the best. And then there's the Audi Q3 which, traditionally, just wasn't that good. It wasn't great to drive, it looked bland and predictable, while the interior was dated and it was not as spacious as it should have been.
Audi's sought to address that with the latest generation Q3. And what a job it's done. From the second you set your eyes on the new Q3, it's clear that it's moving the game on considerably. Not as bold as the XC40, admittedly, but quietly attractive.
The interior is just as impressive. It's similar to that used in the bigger Q8, as well as the A7 Sportback and e-tron electric SUV. The firm's Virtual Cockpit - a digital replacement for conventional dials - is standard across the range, as is a 10.1-inch multimedia display in the centre of the dash.
It all feels extremely upmarket with premium, soft-touch materials and a generous amount of room. Passengers in the rear are also well catered for, with plenty of head and legroom as well as a bench that can slide backwards and forwards depending on where you want to prioritise the extra space.
There are four engines available - three petrols and one diesel, with power ranging from 150PS to 230PS.
The entry-level 1.5-litre petrol (badged the 35 TFSI) produces 150PS and 250Nm of torque but is initially only available with a seven-speed DQ200 dry clutch S tronic automatic gearbox. This combination isn't the best - the engine feels strained and can be noisy, plus it's easy to catch the gearbox out. Having said that, it's easy enough to get used to the gearbox with time and, under normal driving, the engine is perfectly refined.
There are two version of the 2.0-litre petrol engine. The first is available with 190PS and 320Nm of torque, badged the 40 TFSI, or there's the 230PS and 350Nm, badged the 45 TFSI. Both engines comes with the DQ381/DQ500 seven-speed wet clutch S tronic transmission and quattro permanent all-wheel drive.
The only diesel engine available at launch is a 2.0-litre unit producing 150PS and 340Nm of torque. Badged the 35 TDI, it will initially come with a manual gearbox and quattro all-wheel drive. An automatic version will follow along with front-wheel drive, as well as a 180PS version.
What does a Audi Q3 (2018) cost?
Audi Q3 (2018): What's It Like Inside?
If there's one manufacturer you can rely on for always producing an interior that's impossible to fault, it's Audi. Although you're not going to find much flair or quirkiness in the Q3's cabin, it feels extremely well made with high quality materials, while there's plenty of space and everything's logically laid out.
Up front, the Q3 feels like a minature Q8 - definitely a good thing, in our books. There's a 10.1-inch screen in the centre of the dash providing access to entertainment and navigation. It's fast to use and easy to operate, although some will still argue that conventional buttons are easier to use than a touchscreen setup.
One novel feature is the optional alcantara trim on the dash - available in orange, should you wish.
In the rear, two adults can fit comfortably with a generous amount of head and legroom. Middle passengers might be a bit more cramped thanks to a transmission tunnel running between their legs, but the middle seat's fine for occasional use.
The three-seat rear bench can be moved backwards and forewards by 150mm depending on whether you need to prioritise room for rear passengers or boot space, while the rear seat backrest can be split 40:20:40 and tilted in seven stages.
There are clever features in the boot, too. The rear parcel shelf can be removed and slotted neatly under the floor (a feature which, surprisingly, isn't very common), while the opening height of the power-operated tailgate can be adjusted at the tough of the button - perfect if you need to open it in a garage, or just have short arms.
Specification (from December 2018):
Sport features 18-inch alloy wheels, progressive steering, Audi Drive Select, LED headlights with daytime running lights and dynamic rear indicators, LED rear lights, front sport seats in Index cloth, manual seat adjustment, adjustable rear seat bench, dual-zone climate control, three-spoke leather multi-function steering wheel, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, front centre armrest, MMI Navigation Plus with 10.1-inch touchscreen display, Audi Virtual Cockpit with 10.25 digital instrument cluster, DAB digital radio, Audi Pre-sense Basic, Audi Pre-sense Front with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane departure warning, rear parking sensors, cruise control with speed limiter, electromechanical parking brake, hill-hold assist, Audi Side Assist and Isofix child seat mounting for front passenger and outer rear seats.
S line adds 19-inch alloy wheels, sport suspension, S line styling, privacy glass, front sport seats, Pulse cloth/twin leather upholstery, ambient interior lighting and a three-spoke leather multi-function steering wheel.
Vorsprung comes with 20-inch alloy wheels, adaptive suspension, matrix LED headlights with dynamic front and rear indicators, headlight washers, Black Styling Pack, folding door mirrors, panoramic glass sunroof, Alcantara/Twin leather upholstery, four-way electric lumbar support, heated front seats, electrically adjustable front seats, flat-bottomed three-spoke steering wheel, extended ambient lighting pack, Band & Olufsen 3D sound system, Audi phone box with wireless charging, park assist, 360-degree camera, cross-traffic assist rear, adaptive cruise assist, camera-based traffic sign recognition, advanced key and emergency assist.
Child seats that fit a Audi Q3 (2018)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Audi Q3 (2018) like to drive?
- Engines range from 35 TFSI S tronic to 45 TFSI quattro S tronic
Audi reckons most Q3 buyers in the UK will opt for the entry-level 1.5-litre petrol, badged the 35 TFSI. Most of the time it's fine, but if you want to overtake you'll find yourself wishing you'd opted for more power.
That's especially true for the awkward seven-speed S tronic gearbox which can be reluctant to change down and generally doesn't provide a drive as refined and relaxing as we'd expect from an Audi SUV.
If you're happy to take it easy, the 35 TFSI and S tronic automatic gearbox is fine. It's very quiet and refined on the motorway, although the lag when you hit the accelerator can become frustrating around town.
Fortunately, there are other engine options. The 2.0-litre petrol is available with 190 or 230PS and, we suspect, will be much better suited to the Q3 than the 1.5. Then there's a 2.0-litre diesel producing 150PS, which will remain the choice for high mileage users.
Engines aside, the Q3 is a perfectly reasonable car to drive. The variable ratio steering means it doesn't take many turns of the wheel when negotiating tight corners, while it's also nice and light at low speeds. All-round visibility is also pretty good, with that high-up driving position providing a good view of the road ahead.
Up the speed and it's not exactly a nimble handler, but it feels like it has plenty of grip and there's not too much lean in the corners.
It also rides pretty well, if slightly on the firm side if you opt for the S Line with its sport suspension. Our test car was fitted with 19-inch alloys and, while it wouldn't glide over potholes, it wasn't uncomfortable in 99 per cent of situations.
To drive, the Q3 is neither entertaining like an X2 or soft like an XC40, but it's a good all rounder. We'd recommend opting for one of the bigger engines if budget allows, but the entry-level 1.5 is easy enough to live with every day.
|35 TDI S tronic||-||-||123–128 g/km|
|35 TFSI||-||-||140–143 g/km|
|35 TFSI S tronic||-||-||131–134 g/km|
|40 TDI quattro S tronic||-||-||147–148 g/km|
|40 TFSI quattro S tronic||-||-||170–172 g/km|
|45 TFSI quattro S tronic||-||-||173 g/km|
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