Audi Q3 First Drive Review
Isaac Bober reviews the Audi Q3 2.0TDI with pricing, specs, ride and handling and verdict.
The small SUV segment is becoming increasingly crowded, and it’s beginning to fill up at the premium end, too. The Audi Q3 joined the fray last year and, after our drive of the vehicle we’d suggest if you were considering an BMW X1, you should think again, because the Q3 is better.
But then it was always going to be because the Q3 is based on the same running gear that sits underneath the much-praised Volkswagen Tiguan and Skoda Yeti. But, as you could imagine, it feels more premium and dynamic than either of those two.
In terms of design, looking at the petite little Audi Q3, the Q7 finally makes sense. When that car launched back in 2007 it looked bloated and plenty of journalists recoiled in horror. Punters weren’t put off though and the Q7 sold in droves. Then the Q5 came along and the curvy design seemed to suit the smaller frame better, and now the Q3 is here it’s just about perfect. We can only imagine the Audi Q2 will be a gorgeous looking tiny-tot soft-roader.
With prices starting from $44,800 (+ORC) for the Q3 2.0TDI (front-drive only) with six-speed manual, and topping out at $56,000 (+ORC) for the Q3 2.0TFSI quattro manual, there’s a Q3 to suit just about all tastes and budgets. And, for the money, the Q3 is pretty well equipped with all models coming standard with: Bluetooth and iPod connectivity with audio streaming, dual-zone climate control, multi-function steering wheel, rear parking sensors, and much more.
Climb in behind the wheel and the Q3 instantly feels nice and spacious with reach and rake adjustment on the steering. No-one does an interior like Audi and the Q3 is no exception; the fit and finish is first-rate and the quality of the plastics is high. There’s plenty of room in the back seats and there’s a generous 460 litres of boot space. Drop the rear seats and that grows to 1365 litres.
If you’d expect the Q3 to behave like a slightly smaller Audi Q5, then you’d be wrong – it feels better than the inconsistent Q5. The steering is light but well weighted, the ride is the perfect blend of sport and comfort, the brakes are strong, and the 130kW petrol engine with the seven-speed S tronic transmission is super-smooth.
While the Q3 hasn’t yet been assessed by ANCAP, it did receive a five-star rating from EuroNCAP. It gets six airbags, seatbelt pre-tensioners in the front and back, ESP with ABS, ASR and EDL, as well as speed-sensitive power steering and quattro all-wheel drive, and three child-seat anchor points as well as ISOFIX mounts.
PRACTICAL MOTORING SAYS
The Audi Q3 is a very impressive entrant into the premium small SUV segment, and, yes, one that makes the BMW X1 look awkward. Not quite as cool or capable as the Range Rover Evoque, maybe, but the Q3 is cheaper and pretty good on a dirt road too.