Audi Q3 review
The Audi Q3 is a BMW X1 rival that has bags of style, impressive tech and makes a great all-rounder
There might be something increasingly ubiquitous about the Audi line-up, but its popularity reflects qualities that are hard to dispute. Crisp upmarket styling, a premium image, advanced technology and secure handling are all Audi brand qualities that the Q3 SUV/crossover delivers in spades.
The latest model looks similar to its predecessor, but the big change is inside where Audi’s exemplary Virtual Cockpit is now featured. With a decent range of engines all offering punchy performance, the image and road presence of that broad Audi grille and a high quality cabin offering luxury and practicality, it’s hard to pick holes in the Q3 concept. It’s not quite as much fun to drive as a BMW X1, and there’s been no attempt to make the Q3 competitive off-road, but neither will be much of an issue to Audi’s legion of fans. The clunky manual gearbox may be slightly more aggravating.
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.
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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 Qashquai, 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, and you can opt for a quattro four-wheel-drive powertrain and six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic transmission.
Trim levels start off with the Q3 Sport, or you can spec up to the Q3 S Line or Q3 Vorsprung.
All come models 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, special matrix headlamps and an Alcantara-trimmed interior.
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 Q3 a real contender for class honours
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsEconomy figures are unconfirmed, but running costs should be appropriate to each model’s performance
- 4Interior, design and technologyGreat design inside and out, and the Audi Q3 is a technological tour de force
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe Audi Q3 is bigger than previously, but still only a five-seater albeit a roomy one
- 6Reliability and SafetyThe Q3 gets top marks for safety, but reliability reports aren’t great across the Audi range