Audi Q3 (2011-2018) review - Interior, design and technology

Tried and tested platform offers plenty of tech, but the Audi Q3 doesn't quite feel up to the minute

Audi is the master of the corporate look, the Q3 does a good job of utilising the brand's family face. The overall profile will appear familiar to A3 or A4 owners, while the jacked-up body will satisfy the ever-growing crossover market. A facelift in 2014 gave the Q3 a more angular design for the large grille, and it’s finished with satin silver trim that merges with the headlights, giving the Q3 a look similar to the new Q7. However, if you go for white or silver bodywork, the new trim doesn’t stand out.

The slender light housings feature full LED lamps on S line models, while SE versions get xenons. Elsewhere, all cars come with 17-inch alloys, and S line versions add 18-inch rims. There’s a variety of optional wheel designs, too, including chunky 19-inch versions for around £600, which add interest to the Q3’s overall look. 

At the back, S line cars feature strobing indicators – borrowed from higher-end models in the Audi range – but apart from that, you’d be hard pressed to distinguish the updated Q3 from its predecessor.

It’s the same story inside, as the layout is largely unchanged. All cars feature a screen that pops up manually from the top of the dash. Yet while the build quality can’t be faulted and the soft-touch plastics hint at impeccable quality, there are some quirks.

Best crossovers and small SUVs

The layout isn’t as easy to get along with as in some of Audi’s newer models, with the air-con controls in particular proving a bit fiddly, as they’re mounted low behind the gearlever. Overall, the interior of the Audi Q3 and the design is beginning to show its age – it’s in stark contrast to the strikingly minimalist dashboard in the Audi A3, for instance.

Generally speaking, the Audi Q3 is very well equipped. Entry-level SE trim cars come with stop/start technology and 17-inch alloys, as well as climate and cruise control, automatic wipers and lights, plus rear parking sensors. 

If you opt for the sportier S line version, you also get 18-inch alloys and suspension lowered by 20mm. In addition, it features a power tailgate, scrolling indicators, xenon headlights and sports front and rear bumpers, while inside there are front sports seats embossed with Audi’s S line logo, plus aluminium interior inlays. The Q3 S line Plus trim features 19-inch wheels, Alcantara S line-branded seats and privacy glass. 

Go for the RS Q3, and you get the honeycomb grille found on all Audi RS models, as well as a raft of other trimmings to distinguish this model as the most powerful Q3 in the range. Opt for the range-topping RS Q3 Performance version and in addition to the extra horsepower you'll find 20-inch wheels, a Titanium styling pack and special Alcantara seats.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

While a 6.5-inch sat-nav system is standard across the Q3 range, the optional Technology Pack (around £1,000) upgrades this to Audi’s MMI Sat Nav Plus displayed on a larger seven-inch screen.

You get traffic information, voice control and a 20Gb hard drive for music storage. On top of this there’s a 36-month subscription to Audi’s Connect Infotainment Services, but apart from the standard iPod interface (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren’t available even as an option) it shows the limitations of the Q3’s older set-up. The rotary controller – mounted on the centre console and not the transmission tunnel – isn’t intuitive to use, while the screen’s graphics are fuzzy compared with the sharper displays in newer rivals.

The Technology Pack also adds a 3.5-inch colour display between the instruments, but it’s nowhere near as advanced as the Volvo XC40’s digital instrument panel.

Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    35 TFSI Sport 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £31,905

Most Economical

  • Name
    35 TDI Sport 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £33,505

Fastest

  • Name
    40 TDI 200 Quattro Sport 5dr S Tronic
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £37,095

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