Audi Q3 review
Premium quality and style, plus impressive practicality and class-leading tech, make the Audi Q3 a great all-rounder
Audi’s trickle-down design philosophy may mean all its cars look similar, but fortunately it’s the cheaper ones that share the qualities of upmarket models and not vice-versa.
As a result, the brand’s smallest SUV/crossover the Q3 is infused with much of the premium feel of its larger stablemates. It’s a characteristic that’s not just skin deep as the Q3 combines sharp styling with the latest technology, great build quality and excellent ride and handling.
About the Audi Q3
The Audi Q3 has been around in its present form since 2018, and while it didn’t move the game on much in styling terms from its predecessor, it did get a worthwhile tech upgrade including the adoption of Audi Virtual Cockpit, which is the firm’s impressive digital instrument display.
Luckily there isn’t much wrong with the way most Audis look, and the Q3 has a lot more to offer beyond its typically premium style. It’s got a decent range of engines that are powerful and efficient, including the new 45 TFSI e hybrid option, and has a usefully practical cabin that’s also luxurious.
That sense of luxury is well heralded by the big Audi grille which gives the Q3 a strong presence on the road. In spite of its high-riding SUV stance there’s not much focus on off-road ability, but taking the Q3 anywhere off tarmac will be far from most owners’ minds. The Q3’s excellent road manners will be appreciated though, and while the BMW X1 offers a bit more driving involvement, Audi’s customers like the way their cars handle just fine. A less-than-slick manual gear change is a small fly in the ointment, but it’s unlikely to be a deal-breaker, especially as many will choose the S tronic auto option. Otherwise it’s quite tough to pick holes in the Q3’s approach.
Car group tests
- Audi Q3 Sportback vs Lexus UX
- Audi Q3 vs Range Rover Evoque vs Volvo XC40
- Audi Q3 vs Volvo XC40 vs Mazda CX-5
Used car tests
The Audi Q3 is a one of the most important vehicles in the German marque’s line-up, given the growing reluctance of people to buy ‘ordinary’ saloons or hatchbacks when there’s a crossover/SUV on offer.
It competes in a hugely competitive market against the likes of the BMW X1, Mercedes GLA, Jaguar E-Pace and Volvo XC40 at the premium end of the crossover sector, but also has to attract buyers of more mainstream vehicles such as the Ford Kuga, Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar and Peugeot 3008. There are some strong rivals within the VW Group itself, namely the Skoda Karoq, SEAT Ateca and VW Tiguan.
Compared to the preceding model, the latest Q3 has a new front grille with octagonal edges, new headlamps, and the car’s profile is taller, emphasising its crossover credentials. There’s a bit more pizazz to the exterior styling too, with bulging rear wheel arches that are styled similarly to those of the A5 and A8 saloons.
An Q3 Sportback model is also offered which brings added style in the form of a steeply raked roofline, giving a coupe-like appearance over the standard Q3. The Sportback is 16mm longer than the Q3 on which it is based, and the roofline doesn’t affect practicality quite as much as you might imagine.
The latest version of the Audi Q3 is built on the VW Group’s MOB platform, which it shares with an increasing number of in-house stablemates. There’s only a single five-door bodystyle and five-seat cabin arrangement, but you do get a roomy boot.
There is a range of petrol and diesel engines, offering power outputs of 148bhp to 241bhp, while you can opt for a quattro four-wheel-drive powertrain and six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic transmission. For those seeking extra performance, Audi also offers the RS Q3 with 396bhp. Company car drivers will be especially drawn to the new-for-2021 Q3 TFSI e plug-in hybrid model, with its tax-busting 36-38g/km of CO2. The Q3 plug-in model shares its running gear with the VW Golf GTE and Tiguan eHybrid, and while it’s available to order we’re still waiting for the first cars to arrive here in the UK.
All models come with Audi’s hugely impressive Virtual Cockpit digital dash, alloy wheels and LED headlamps. The Q3 S Line gets sports suspension and sports seats with leather trimmings, plus larger alloys, while the Vorsprung adds adaptive suspension, matrix LED headlights and an Alcantara-trimmed interior. Trim levels start off with the Q3 Technik, and you can spec up to the Sport, S Line, Black Edition, Edition 1 or top-of-the-range Vorsprung. Neither the Q3 Crossback or the TFSI e line-up have a Technik grade, so they kick off with Sport.
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In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingPremium quality and style, plus impressive practicality and class-leading tech, make the Audi Q3 a great all-rounder
- 2Engines, performance and driveMuch improved ride comfort makes the latest Audi Q3 a real contender for class honours
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsEconomy figures are decent, while running costs should be appropriate to each model’s performance
- 4Interior, design and technologyWith typically stylish design inside and out, the Audi Q3 is a technological tour de force
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe Audi Q3 is bigger than the previous model, which means useful extra room for passengers and luggage
- 6Reliability and SafetyThe Q3 gets top marks for safety, but reliability reports aren’t great across the Audi range