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Audi Q3 Review

8 / 10
4 June 2024

The second-generation Audi Q3 is a smart, desirable SUV that tackles the rough and the smooth – although mostly the smooth.

Larger and more practical than the A3 it’s based on, the Q3 is more expensive too. But its strong residual values make monthly PCP prices surprisingly affordable.

What we like:
  • Solid, sophisticated feel
  • Strong material quality
  • Practical
What we don't like:
  • More expensive than mechanically similar alternatives
  • Drab-looking entry-level models
  • Poor ride quality on big wheels

Should I buy an Audi Q3?

They say a mullet is the ‘business at the front, party at the back’ hairstyle. The Audi Q3 is the exact opposite of a mullet – practicality at the back, and fancy tech and ambient lighting at the front. Just don’t ask your hairdresser for that cut.


There’s also the Q3 Sportback, which is party in the front and party in the back, to continue with this analogy. Audi’s designers have chopped a bit out of the Q3’s roofline to create the Sportback, so it’s a little less practical but more stylish, daahling. The end result is a lot better resolved than many coupe-SUVs, and it still has a big boot.


The Q3 combines must-have features that many of you are looking for – the space and high driving position of an SUV, and a premium German badge. It’ll equally suit family buyers and lone drivers who want a commanding view of the motorway network.


Of course, the Q3 isn’t the only premium German SUV with the anti-mullet approach. There’s the BMW X1, which is sportier than the Audi, and the fancy-at-first-glance Mercedes GLA. Other rivals include the Volvo XC40, Jaguar E-Pace and Range Rover Evoque.


Closer to home, there’s also the Volkswagen Tiguan, SEAT Ateca and Skoda Karoq. All are cheaper than the Q3, and all share the Audi’s underpinnings and at least some of its engines. See also the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf.


Although, because the Q3’s always in high demand, it keeps its value well and monthly payments are kept in check – it’s usually only a small jump in PCP repayments from a Tiguan to a Q3. You may just need to factor in the Audi’s higher insurance costs and potentially higher servicing costs.

Interior and technology

The inspiration for the Q3’s interior seems to have come from up above – there are hints of Audi’s more expensive models in the C-shaped metal trim around the infotainment system. Generally, the build quality matches dearer Audis, too.


In this class, the Audi’s interior is one of the best. The materials are a noticeable step up from mainstream alternatives like the Nissan Qashqai and Ford Kuga, and it certainly feels more premium – living up to its higher price tag.


Every Q3 gets Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster and a large infotainment system with built-in sat nav, a host of apps and smartphone mirroring, keeping you in the loop on the road.


Other standard equipment includes rear parking sensors, a push-to-close tailgate, alloy wheels, cruise control and climate control.

Practicality

The Q3 might be the second-smallest Audi SUV but it still boasts peachy practicality. Four adults – five at a push – can comfortably sit in the Q3, and a tall adult can sit behind another one without having their knees close to their chest. A BMW X1 feels a little bit more spacious in the back seats but the Q3 should still offer enough space for most buyers.


With easily accessible Isofix points and an airy feel back there, it’s also a good choice for family buyers with young children.


Keep the rear seats in place and both the Q3 and Q3 Sportback offer 530 litres of boot space – even if you pick a quattro four-wheel-drive model. That’s a really strong amount of space and will be more than enough for most family holidays and trips to flatpack furniture shops.


Clearly, if you want to load to the roof, the Q3 Sportback and its tapered tail won’t fit as much in as the boxier Q3 SUV will. You also won’t get as much luggage in the boot of a plug-in hybrid Q3, as almost a third of the bootspace is taken away by the large battery pack.

Engines and performance

Let’s kick off with the plug-in hybrid. Badged ‘45 TFSI e’ (catchy, we know), the Q3 PHEV boasts a 32-mile electric range when its battery is fully charged. If you can recharge at home, this engine will let you cover a good proportion of your commute without using a drop of fuel – and it’s the best choice if you’re going to be driving around towns and cities a lot.


Elsewhere, there’s a choice of five engines – three petrol, two diesel – plus the unhinged RS Q3 if you want a high-performance SUV with the fuel consumption of the Exxon Valdez.


The entry-level 35 TFSI petrol is plenty powerful enough for most driving situations, and its 42mpg figure keeps it fairly affordable to run. This engine even comes with the option of a manual gearbox – yes, in 2024!


Diesel buyers still have two versions of a 2.0-litre engine to choose from. The 35 TDI has 150hp and returns 48mpg, while the 40 TDI has 193hp and confidence-inspiring four-wheel drive. Just be sure you’re going to appreciate the quattro four-wheel-drive system if you pick it, as it knocks the fuel economy down to 42mpg.

Driving and comfort

If you’re at all bothered about having fun behind the wheel, get the BMW X1 or Jaguar E-Pace instead. The Q3 doesn’t try to entertain – instead it’s soothing and satisfying to drive, with the sort of solid, competent feel that you’d expect from both an Audi and an SUV. It certainly doesn’t feel like a small or entry-level SUV.


The Q3 is mostly comfortable, especially on faster roads and if you resist the temptation of a car with the biggest alloy wheels. Around town and on slower roads it can be a bit bumpy and unsettled, but that’s probably saying as much about the quality of our roads as it is about the Audi’s suspension setup.

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