Long-term tests

Audi Q3: Second report

We’ve had to get a screen chip fixed, but this hasn’t spoiled our enjoyment of crossover

I’m really starting to get to grips with our new Audi Q3, although there has been one casualty since it arrived. Within weeks, it had collected a large stone chip on the windscreen, which immediately caused a big crack to develop, so I’ve just had a replacement screen fitted.

Autoglass in Chelmsford, Essex, managed to get hold of a new screen within a couple of weeks. Fitting it only took a few hours – even with me and my camera getting in the way. So, the Q3 is back in fine fettle, which is just as well, because web reporter Luke Madden is about to take it to the French Alps on a winter skiing holiday.

The Audi is perfect for his mammoth road trip: it’s a refined, economical cruiser. And while I’ve yet to put the winter tyres to the ultimate test here in the UK, they should come into their own in the Alps.

I’ve noticed the significant extra grip the tyres provide on frosty mornings, so Luke has definitely chosen the best car on the fleet for his holiday.

Mind you, we’ve already had a few dramas. In my first report, I mentioned a rattle behind the dash. I asked an Audi technician to investigate when the Q3 was getting its winter tyres fitted. He fixed the rattle, but must have knocked the wiring behind the dash in the process, as the next day the wipers stopped working – during a downpour in the outside lane of the M40.

The car was recovered to Audi’s flagship dealer in West London and was quickly fixed, but it’s not something I’d want to experience again. In fairness, I don’t think I will, as the Q3 has lived up to its premium billing during the rest of its time in my hands. I’m lucky to have two very harsh road testers at home, in the form of my two daughters. If there’s a fault or flaw with a car, they’ll normally find it.

So far, they love the panoramic roof, because it allows them to stargaze at night. This is probably not its intended use but, as any parent will tell you, anything that helps you get a quiet life has to be a good thing.

The flipside to having my kids in the back is that they like swinging their legs around, and my youngest is constantly kicking the back of my seat. Rear legroom is fine for an adult, but a child sits higher when using a booster seat, and that reveals the limited space on offer inside.

The Q3’s compact dimensions do help in other areas, though, as we’re averaging 40.2mpg so far. Considering the performance on offer, and the economy-sapping four-wheel-drive system and twin-clutch gearbox, that’s impressive. I’ve been using the Eco setting for the gearbox whenever possible and it must be having an effect.

This mode allows the clutch to decouple when you lift off the throttle, so the car is effectively coasting. It’s an odd sensation as the revs drop to tickover, but drive engages again quickly and smoothly when you press the accelerator, so you get used to it.

So there you have it. Two months in, and the Q3 is proving to be an effective compact SUV. It has barely any weaknesses and, rattle aside, cabin quality is genuinely impressive. Although it’s smaller than my old Kia Sportage, I don’t feel like I’m being forced to make any significant compromises. And now the screen has been fixed, its appeal is clear for all to see...

Extra Info

“The Q3 doesn’t disappoint – I love the looks and the interior quality is as good as I’d expect from Audi. Even on winter tyres, the ride isn’t compromised.”Lesley Harris, Road tester

“The back of the Audi is sloped, and the VW Tiguan is the same. This means they’re not as good at carrying large dogs as my Honda CR-V.”SteveLM2, via www.autoexpress.co.uk

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