Audi Q3: Fourth report

4 Jun, 2012 12:00pm Pete Gibson

We’re sweeping up the roads to prevent another mishap on our 4x4

Our Audi Q3 continues to impress, but it has one issue that’s literally chipping away at my confidence in the car. A nasty stone chip had already forced me to replace the windscreen, and two weeks later, another stray stone cracked the glass.

Maybe it’s the car’s elevated height or the rake of the screen, but the Q3 does seem to be vulnerable to flying debris flicked up by other road users. As a result, I’ve been tempted to hit the streets with my broom and sweep away any loose grit and gravel.

Fortunately, this latest attack on the windscreen hasn’t required another visit from glass specialist Autoglass, as I managed to repair the damage with a DIY kit from Halfords. This neat package costs around £30, and fills the chip with a strong resin in an effort to stop it becoming a crack. It took only half an hour to finish the job, and the screen is now almost as good as new.

The only other issue has been the engine’s appetite for oil. At just under 16,000 miles, the Audi’s oil warning light started to glow. With 2,000 miles to go before the first service was due, I topped up the 2.0-litre TDI with about a litre of the recommended grade.

However, my busy photography schedule meant it wasn’t long before the Q3 was ready for its first trip to the dealer anyway, so I booked it in at Chelmsford Audi in Essex. I dropped it off at 7.30am and was pleasantly surprised to find it was ready for collection by 12pm the same day. The service cost £308, which included a new pollen filter for the air-con, plus a £10 loan-car insurance waiver.

Overall, the whole experience was very good, as the service was carried out quickly and efficiently and the dealer staff were polite and helpful. What’s more, my stint in Chelmsford Audi’s A3 S line courtesy car highlighted just how good the Q3 is.

In my opinion, the compact SUV is one of the best models in the range, combining an excellent ride and handling balance with strong refinement and enough space to accommodate a growing family.

Having spent so much time behind the wheel of the Q3, I’m now getting used to its various selectable driving modes. For instance, on the motorway, the Efficiency setting automatically disconnects the gearbox, allowing the car to coast for better fuel economy. The set-up operates incredibly smoothly and you soon forget it’s working.

Strangely, the sporty Dynamic mode is the best choice for town driving, as it sharpens up the throttle response and disengages the stop-start system, allowing for quicker exits from busy junctions. In Normal mode, the combination of stop-start and DSG gearbox means the engine often cuts out the moment you’re about to pull away, forcing you to wait a second or so for the diesel to fire up again.

The other benefit of Dynamic is that the car feels more responsive on the open road, allowing you to sweep past slower traffic – and avoid stones thrown up by their wheels...

Extra Info

“The Q3 is entertaining on twisty back roads. Compact dimensions, punchy diesel engine and all-wheel-drive traction make it an agile and rapid companion.”
Owen Mildenhall, Senior road tester

“I don’t think any buyer would choose the Q3 over a Range Rover Evoque. An entry-level Audi is cheaper, but I’d still try to find the extra cash for the Evoque.”
peter_sp, via www.autoexpress.co.uk

Key specs

  • On fleet since: December 2011
  • Price when new: £28,965
  • Running costs: 39.1mpg and 156g/km
  • Mileage: 18,297
  • Engine / Power: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 175bhp
  • Trade-in value now: £26,950
  • Insurance Group / Quote: 21/£894
  • Costs: None so far
  • Any problems?: Stone chip led to screen replacement, wipers broke
  • Equipment: Too many to list
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