The new Audi Q3 now has a lot more visual character than the last model, while the interior remains a quality place to be and it’s refined overall.
The last Audi Q3 was a perfectly fine all-round package but it had a very bland appearance. The new Q3 has a lot more design character – so does the rest of the car live up to the visual promise?
The Audi Q3 35 TFSI 150PS has a 4-cylinder, 1.5-litre petrol engine mated to a 7-speed S tronic dual clutch transmission and front-wheel drive.
The exterior styling of this latest model is more interesting than the previous generation Q3, and the interior is the normal high quality Audi environment.
Many people are likely to be sold on the Q3 just by sitting in the driver’s seat in the Audi showroom. The interior looks and feels high quality, and is a very pleasant environment in which to spend time.
There’s also decent levels of adjustment for the seat and steering wheel, which means that most people will be able to find a good driving position.
The 7-speed S tronic dual clutch transmission offers D and S settings, and you can change gear manually with the steering wheel-mounted paddles.
Audi drive select offers a range of drive modes – efficiency, auto, dynamic and individual. There should be something to suit everyone, although there’s not a huge difference between the settings,
The Q3 is perfectly capable in general driving, with the 150PS 4-cylinder, 1.5-litre petrol engine being refined and flexible, as well as delivering sufficient performance. However if you do ask too much of the engine, it can sound strained.
But the big issue is that the entire driving experience is spoilt by a huge delay when accelerating from standstill. If you’re trying to pull out into a gap in traffic, this delay can feel like hours. And if you do press the accelerator enthusiastically in a desperate attempt to encourage some form of response, when the powertrain finally decides to wake up, thanks to the front-wheel drive chassis, wheelspin can easily result, especially in the wet. This is a good reason to consider opting for the all-wheel drive quattro model.
Overall responses are better in dynamic mode, but this doesn’t eliminate the tardiness from standstill.
This is an SUV, so the handling is impacted by a higher centre of gravity and a heavier body than, for example, an Audi A3 hatchback. The ride is also on the firm side.
The Q3 is a pleasant place to be on the motorway, but there is some wind noise. When travelling long distances you’ll have the chance to take in all the tech in the interior, which mostly works well, and the mapping quality is excellent.
And good news for parents: car seats are very easy to fit, thanks to large, open isofix sockets – all cars should have such a system rather than the impossible-to-reach connections tucked behind seats in many vehicles.
The bane of our life – the lane departure warning system – also features on the Q3, and while most cars have a button hidden away under the right hand side of the dashboard to switch it off – yet others require a deep dive into the touchscreen – with the Q3 there’s a switch at the end of the left hand stalk on the steering wheel. More consistency between different vehicles, and especially Volkswagen Group cars – and even within the Audi range – would be good.
The Q3 doesn’t have a reversing camera, and to make matters worse, the door mirrors are very slow to fold out when the car is started, so if you get in the car and need to reverse quickly, you can’t see what’s behind you.
And you even have to insert a key in the ignition to start the Q3 – something that feels very old fashioned and low tech and not quite fitting for a premium SUV.
The official combined fuel economy for the Audi Q3 35 TFSI is 36.7-37.2 mpg based on the new, more realistic WLTP test, with CO2 emissions of 133 g/km.
We returned 41.5mpg at 70mph on the motorway but this dropped as low as 24.0mpg around town. Overall after a week the Q3 averaged 36.2mpg – which virtually matches the WLTP figure. This is further proof that petrol SUVs aren’t super-economical, and is a reason why – due to the demonisation of diesel and the move to petrol and to SUVs – average CO2 emissions from cars are rising. If you want an efficient car, don’t opt for an SUV – unless it’s electric (although weight and aerodynamics also impact on electric cars).
The projected driving range for the Q3 was 420 miles – which is better than electric cars at the moment.
The Audi Q3 35 TFSI 150PS S line S tronic costs £33,260. Our test car also had the following options: Storage Pack (£210), Ambient multi-coloured interior lighting (£100), 12.3″ virtual cockpit (£250), 3-spoke multi-function flat bottom steering wheel (£250), Electrically adjustable front seats (£675), Heated front seats (£300), Electric, heated and folding mirrors (£225), 4-way lumbar support (£255), Parking system plus (£300), Audi Sound System (£275). The total price of the test car was £37,565.
The Audi Q3 is available in petrol and diesel powertrains, manual or automatic transmissions, and front or all-wheel drive. Trim levels are Sport, S line and Vorsprung.
The Audi Q3 now has the exterior visual character to match the premium interior. It’s also generally refined and mostly good to drive. Because of all this – and due to the Audi badge and because it’s an SUV – it’s a desirable car. However it would be good to banish the delay in response from standstill, and petrol SUVs aren’t the most economical of cars in real-world driving.
The Audi Q3 35 TFSI 150PS S line S tronic gains a Green Car Guide rating of 8 out of 10. If you want better real-world economy then there’s always the diesel model. Or if you’re prepared to wait a bit longer, an all-electric Audi mid-size SUV will be coming your way in a year or two.