2019 Audi Q3 Review
Paul Horrell’s first drive 2019 Audi Q3 Review with Specs, Performance, Ride and Handling, Safety, Verdict and Score.
IN A NUTSHELL The Q3 got bigger, roomier than more versatile. It’s loaded with tech, as Audis tend to be. But there are rough edges in the powertrains.
2019 Audi Q3 Specifications (European spec)
Price N/A Warranty 3 years/unlimited km Engines 1.5L petrol turbo (35TFSI), 2.0 diesel turbo (35TDI), 2.0 petrol turbo (45TFSI) Power 110kW at 5000-6000rpm (35TFSI), 110kW at 3500-4000 (35TDI), 169kW at 5000-6700 (45TFSI) Torque 250Nm at 1500-2500rpm (35TFSI), 340Nm at 1750-3000 (35TDI), 350Nm at 1500-4400 (45TFSI) Transmission 6-speed manual or 7-speed DCT auto Drive front-wheel drive (35TFSI) or four-wheel drive (others) Body 4484mm (l); 1856mm (w exc mirrors); 2024 (w inc mirrors); 1585mm (h exc antenna) 1616mm (h inc antenna) Towing weight 2000kg (braked) 750kg (unbraked) Kerb weight 1495kg (35TFSI) 1625kg (35TDI and 45TFSI) Seats 5 Fuel tank 60 litres Spare space-saver Thirst Not yet available
The Audi Q3 was one of the earliest posh small crossovers – only the BMW X1 in mark one (and rather rubbish) form was there first. Since then all the rival premium makers have piled in, and they’ve made their rivals bigger. Meanwhile Audi itself brought in the Q2, and that isn’t a whole lot smaller than the old Q3. So of course the new Q3 grew, by 97mm in length, and by a very useful 77mm in the wheelbase. All good for rear legroom and boot space.
The old car also ran on a fairly outdated platform, while the new one switches to the VW Group’s so-called MQB platform. In size and basic components it’s the same underneath as the VW Tiguan, but it’s tuned differently so feels quite different to drive – more agile and sharp.
There’s also Audi’s all-screen dash setup, with a touch-operated centre screen instead of the old knee-level controller wheel.
Engines run from 1.5 petrol to 2.0 petrol (in two outputs) and 2.0 diesel. We tried the three listed in the spec table above. All 2.0 cars have all-wheel-drive.
On the face of it then, Audi has bust a gut to tackle the BMW X1, Jaguar E-Pace and Volvo XC40, as well as the new versions of the Mercedes GLA and Range Rover Evoque that are on the horizon.
To show the world you’ve got the mark two version of the Q3, there’s a whole load of assertive new styling going on. It’s lower and wider, emphasised by the honking great octagonal grille and blades of LED light-show – mirrored by similar LED graphics in the tail-lamps. Along the side, Audi is laying claim to the original rally-Quattro heritage with angular blisters in the sheet-metal above the wheels.
Locally, we’ll have to wait until next year to see the new Q3 (mid-2019) and final specification and pricing will be released closer to launch.
What’s the interior and practicality like?
The sweep of high-resolution screens across the dash helps the modern feel, and so does the angular design of the dash and door furniture.
We drove German-spec cars that sported some pretty out-there colour schemes, using Alcantara suede-effect for seat and door panel accents. Most buyers would likely run a mile from such a thing, fearing it’d have people sniggering at them in the golf club bar. So they sheepishly opt for plain grey or black.
Most of it is finished with the usual Audi smart, solid materials. But annoyingly, the vents are a bit cheap, and the door pulls are fashioned from hard scratch-prone plastic too. You’d think components you touch so often would be nicer, even if that meant going without soft-touch plastic for the upper dash, a moulding you never actually touch.
Still, the first thing you notice has got to be that spangly infotainment screen. Rather than sitting on top in the modern tablet style, it’s set right into the centre of the dash. That has the happy consequence of moving the air vents up to a level where they’ll actually aim at your face. The climate controls are actual hardware knobs and buttons. That’s also good.
There are no hardware instruments though. A digital set of driver graphics is standard, on a 10-inch screen. An upgrade fee will get a slightly bigger and more configurable display. To be honest, the simple version that simulates old-style dials is the most useful anyway, so why bother upgrading?
Audi says the front seats come from the Q5, and they certainly feel good for long hauls. Almost anyone will get a good driving position. The rear passengers get an armrest, lights, vents and storage nets. As advertised, the whole cabin is usefully bigger than the old Q3, with class-competitive rear space.
The 530 litre boot also brings the Q3 up to par. You can expand that boot significantly because the back seats slide forward, so if the passengers are kid-size you’ll have more room to carry a buggy and all that paraphernalia. The backrest also splits 40:20:40. The boot blind stores under the floor. All very sensible.
What are the infotainment and controls like?
The system is cloud-connected as standard, so you get accurate real-time traffic and the like. It uses the same network to set up a wifi hotspot in the car for everyone’s devices.
Audi has gone to touchscreens with several recently launched cars. The top-end cars (A6/7/8, Q8) get a pair of them one above the other, but the Q3 and next A1 have just the one. The MMI selector wheel down in the console has gone. Shame – it was very well-developed by the end, and good for inputting instructions when the car was bouncing down the road.
The touchscreen by contrast often shows a load of touch buttons that are too small and crowd too close together, so they’re hard to hit. Beautiful rendering and graphics are all very nice, but we want something that’s useable too, please.
If you want big, simple graphics, plug your phone in and use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
What’s the performance like?
We tried three engines. The cheapest is the 35TFSi, a 1.5 petrol job that makes 110Kw. It comes only with front-wheel-drive, and the one we tested had an autobox, marking it out as a car directed at tarmac only, and mostly cities and suburbs. Not that it couldn’t manage motorway, mind.
The issue isn’t performance, it’s just the manners. Below 3000rpm it’s laggy, and above there it sounds tingly and harsh. It was paired in the tester with a seven-speed DCT autobox, which itself wasn’t any too smooth on the gearshifts.
The top petrol is the 45TFSI, again with the seven-speed box but Quattro drive too. This is lively on paper – 0-100km/h in 6.3 seconds, but again sounds harsher and wheezier than essentially the same thing when it’s motivating VW Golf GTI.
We also had a go in the TDI, a six-speed manual with Quattro. This is pretty smooth and quiet for a diesel, and the manual transmission has good manners too.
What’s it like on the road?
All versions turn well into corners, without the sogginess of many crossovers. Body roll is kept well under control too. There’s also lots of grip at least in the dry, even in the front-drive 35TFSI. It’s not all gravy mind. The steering in all versions is too light and has no feel, so you aren’t really engaged.
At least in the 45TFSI, you can feel the extra power working the tyres harder, so it’s a bit more fun in tight bends. The ride is pretty good too. Sure there’s an underlying firmness, but the suspension eases away sharp bumps and urban potholes.
And when you aren’t accelerating or hauling up a hill, the engines quieten down and you realise the general noise level from tyres, suspension and wind is damped well away.
What safety features does it get?
There have been no crash tests yet, but it’s worth noting the Q3 shares most of its platform and structure with the VW Tiguan which has a five-star NCAP rating. It got 96 percent in front occupant crash protection, and strong child results too (the Tiguan’s actual percentage score dropped here because of the difficulty in attaching child seats to the third row, which isn’t relevant to the two-row Q3).
The Q3 has, as should be industry standard these days, a frontal alert system that detects vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians, and can auto-brake to avoid or at least ease a crash.
Also standard is a lane support system that’ll nudge the car back into its lane if it drifts across the lines and the driver isn’t indicating. Encourages use of the flashers if nothing else…
Another element of the standard suite is blind-spot warning. Then comes an optional assistance package that includes adaptive cruise control with steering. But the supported steering was fallible in our drive (they all are, but this more than most) so keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Self-parking is also part of this pack. Hmmm… if you can’t park, maybe you shouldn’t be driving. Standard LED headlamps help when driving at night.