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Audi Q3 engines, driving and performance

How does the Audi Q3 drive?

The Audi Q3 is composed, reassuring and competent. It’s not set up for keen handling and driver satisfaction like the BMW X1 is, with light but well-judged steering and little in the way of mechanical feel.

Nothing about the Q3’s driving experience is at all bad, and most drivers will be very pleased with the solid, sure-footed feel that the Q3 offers. That’s something inherited from Audi’s larger SUVs, so you can have the proper Audi confidence without stretching to the bigger Q5 or Q7.

Is the Audi Q3 comfortable?

The Q3 is more comfortable than the BMW X1 around town, where it filters out some of the bumps that the X1 tells you about. It’s set up to be smoother and softer over the bumps than the X1 is, which – let’s be honest – is what you probably want from an SUV. However, it’s not perfect, and some jolts will have it bouncing up and down on its springs a little.

If comfort is high on your priority list, avoid the firmer suspension and the big wheels of the S Line and Black Edition trims, which make the ride frustratingly choppy. Sport trim, with its standard suspension and more modestly sized wheels, is our pick of the range.

At higher speeds, the Q3 lets a bit more noise into the cabin than the X1 does, with tyre roar being the most noticeable culprit.

What’s the best engine to get?

A 1.5-litre petrol engine, badged 35 TFSI, opens the range, and this engine provides enough power for day-to-day driving and the promise of 40mpg. It also keeps the price and your insurance costs in check, so many buyers will be perfectly happy with this engine.

Above the 35 TFSI are the 40 TFSI and 45 TFSI options. These are two different versions of a 2.0-litre engine – with 190hp and 245hp respectively. Both come with four-wheel drive as standard and both return an MPG figure in the low thirties.

The diesel engines are both 2.0 litres as well, with the 35 TDI boasting 150hp and the 40 TDI coming with 193hp and, again, four-wheel drive. The 35 TDI will suit long-distance drivers, although its promise of 48mpg isn’t exactly groundbreakingly frugal. With the extra weight of the four-wheel-drive system, the 40 TDI returns up to 42mpg.

Combining petrol with electric, the plug-in hybrid Q3 can drive for up to 32 miles on electric power with a fully charged battery. How economical it’ll be will depend entirely on how and where you drive it – you’ll quickly eat up its electric range at motorway speeds while, around town, the engine can be kept asleep the whole time and you can enjoy the quietness of the powertrain.

For now at least, a manual gearbox is still fitted to some cars with a 150hp engine. The seven-speed S Tronic automatic gearbox – optional on the entry-level engines and standard elsewhere – is the more popular choice, and is what we’d recommend. Automatic Q3s are easier to sell on and may keep more of their value than manual ones, even though the automatic can sometimes be a bit slow to change down and occasionally jerky when parking.

Audi Q3 performance

As even the entry-level engines offer fine performance, many buyers don’t feel the need to upgrade to one of the more powerful engines. However, if you do go for the 40 TFSI or 40 TDI, the acceleration drops from under 10 seconds to a nippy 7.3 seconds – largely thanks to the extra grip given by the quattro four-wheel-drive system. That’s the same time that the plug-in hybrid takes to get from 0-62mph, although it feels quicker initially thanks to the instant punch of electric power.

If you want your family SUV with a scorching hot chilli pepper under the bonnet, you’ll need to hunt out the RS Q3. Much pricier than the standard Q3 but much faster too, the 400hp RS version hits 62mph in just 4.5 seconds on the way to a limited 155mph top speed.

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