Audi Q3 – The Big Small SUV

Audi Q3, DriveWrite AutomotiveSometimes, checking out the Audi portfolio can be a bit bewildering. They offer a huge range of cars, and, it’s fair to say, all of them are good and fulfil almost any personal motoring requirements known to mankind. There is, for example, a choice of three ‘Q’ cars to choose from, each one bigger than the next.

This week though we’ll concentrate on the smallest model in the Audi SUV range, the Q3. I like this car; this is a car I like. I have driven it on occasion before and it was nice to have one to myself for a whole week. The tragedy is that the day after it was delivered, I was struck down by some fearsome man-ailment that laid me low. The Q3 had to spend a fair amount of the week kicking its heels outside. Fortunately, I was able to take it out on the DriveWrite test route and take some pics. So not a total loss then but it was a shame to have to forgo a lot of the pleasure of driving the thing.Audi Q3, driveWrite Automotive

If I have counted correctly there are no less than nineteen different models available in the Q3 range. There are petrol engines including the tried and tested 1.4L TFSI (now with added cylinder deactivation); there are diesel engines and buyers can choose between two and four-wheel drive plus varying degrees of trim and power. Add to this the almost infinite variety that can be achieved by personalising with a choice of many options and you can multiply the bewilderment of choice. Fortunately, this difficult decision was made for me and the car supplied was, to give it its full title, The  Audi Q3 2.0L TDI Quattro S Line S-Tronic model, punching out a mighty 184PS and 280lb/ft of torque.

Fuel economy is a major consideration when buying a car. To complicate the issue however the correct choice is also dependent on the owner’s specific circumstances and driving style. High mileage users would do well to opt for this version, especially if they like to mix their economy with performance.

Under The Bonnet

The two-litre turbocharged direct injection or common rail engine is the latest in diesel fuel technology and it delivered extremely smooth and efficient combustion with reduced emissions of 146g/km thanks to particulate filters. It isn’t necessary to work this punchy engine hard to get up the road. To aid economy, our Q3 came with Stop/Start.Audi Q3, DriveWrite Automotive

Out And About

Where versions with the smaller, lighter petrol engines feel nimble, the diesel feels sturdy and heavier like the long-legged motorway mile-muncher that it is. The TDI Q3 eats the road with a powerful pull of torque. You can feel the extra weight through the steering. Drive comes via a brilliant (no other word for it) seven-speed auto ‘box with a Sport mode and paddles should the urge arise. It is so good that, after trying the paddles in an experimental way, I didn’t bother, preferring to leave it for the gearbox to sort out which it did with aplomb. The vehicle strikes a good balance with car-like handling mixed with the versatility of the SUV. Handling is good on the optional 19” alloys and encourages enthusiastic driving plus there’s very little ‘SUV lean’ in the corners.Audi Q3, DriveWrite Automotive

On The Outside

The look remains pretty much the same as the original from three years ago with the biggest update on this refreshed model is reserved for the front. The large grille has a more angular design that’s embellished with satin silver trim that merges with the headlights, giving the Q3 a familial face look not unlike the forthcoming Q7. Our S line model featured slim LED light housings and at the back, S Line features strobing indicators – a premium upgrade. For me, the Audi Q3 looks at its best in strong, vibrant colours rather the safe silver and white paint jobs.Audi Q3, DriveWrite Automotive

On The Inside

In typical Audi fashion the interior is superb. Controls are easy to master and use thanks to the pop-up MMI 6.5-inch infotainment screen that features clear graphics and that controls most features which in turn means there isn’t a vast array of switches and buttons. There’s the usual legion of optional extras in terms of comfort, navigation, safety and high-tech electronics, most of those on the our test car are itemised on the list below. The navigation is a stand out feature and the Bluetooth music streaming a doddle.

Various trim options are available and I liked black Sprint cloth/ leather seats which are super-supportive and comfortable. The Q3 has room to spare for four adults and lanky drivers will appreciate the multi-adjustment and – a particular favourite – the adjustable seat squabs for thigh support. Steering rake and reach is as ever fully adjustable too which means getting just the right driving position is a piece of cake. The well-shaped boot is generous which means that, although this is the smallest Q car, it is still a versatile option for a family.Audi Q3, driveWrite Automotive

Verdict

For me, this is almost the ideal car even at the asking price of almost £40,000. It’s a better choice than, say, Mercedes GLA or the disappointing BMW X1 so really the only car in this sector that would make me think twice is the Evoque which has almost as many variants on offer. On balance I feel though that the Audi Q3 is the better driver. On the basis of the foregoing then I can wholeheartedly recommend this car. Love it.Audi Q3, DriveWrite Automotive

Geoff Maxted