Audi Q3 review
The Audi Q3 is a BMW X1 rival that has bags of style, impressive tech and makes 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.
The newest version was launched in 2018 and while it looks much like its predecessor – not to mention most of the other models in Audi’s line-up – big changes inside heralded the arrival of Virtual Cockpit, the brand’s impressively configured screen-based dashboard set-up.
The Audi Q3 offers much more besides, with a spread of powerful and efficient engines providing a wide range of performance options, and a cabin that’s luxurious yet practical.
The big generic Audi grille ensures the Q3 has a strong road presence, and all-in-all it’s tough to find much to criticise. The fact there’s nothing much in the way of off-road capability won’t matter a jot to most Q3 owners, nor the fact that the rival BMW X1 is a little more fun for sporty drivers. A less-than-slick manual gearchange may be a bit of an aggravation, but it’s unlikely to be a deal-breaker.
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.
At first glance, the latest Audi Q3 looks rather similar to its predecessor, but that was always the Audi way. There’s 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, meaning that 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 227bhp, 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 394bhp.
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, or you can spec up to the Sport, S Line, Black Edition, Edition 1 or top-of-the-range Vorsprung.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Audi Q3 is a BMW X1 rival that has bags of style, impressive tech and makes 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