On the face of it, it appears that this Audi
Q3 has all the right ingredients for success. It has a premium badge, good quality interior
and raised ride height with excellent forward visibility, which is exactly what family buyers
are looking for. And it’s a small SUV which is one of the largest markets around, trouble
is the size of that market means competition is tough. Just 3 of the rivals are BMW X1,
VW Tiguan and Range Rover Evoque. So can the Audi Q3 still cut it or has it lost its day?
To find out we’ll start by taking it on the UK roads. For a small car there’s actually
a big choice of engines available from a small 1.4 litre petrol up to a 2 litre and 2.5 litre
petrol plus a pair of 2 litre diesels. It’s the lower powered diesel option that we’ve
got fitted to this car and if you do any motorway miles it’s the one that we ultimately recommend
because it’s smooth, has enough power delivery to cope with a fully loaded car and is relatively
economical. Even on its standard suspension, the Q3 offers a comfortable ride at all speeds.
In fact, this is the set up to go for because the one fitted to the pricier S line models
is less forgiving. As you might expect, raising the ride height for any car doesn’t do any
favours to its handling. That said, compared with its SUV rivals, the Q3 does pretty well.
It has plenty of grip through the corners and keeps its body well controlled. The petrol
engines are quieter than the diesels and aside from some small vibrations sent back into
the interior, overall refinement is good. Go for the 6 speed manual gearbox and you’ll
enjoy some precise, well weighted changes. While the S tronic automatic we’ve got here
is largely quick and smooth. Like the best Audis, the Q3 has the kind of interior that
oozes quality. Everything you touch feels solid and there are plenty of soft touch materials.
You won’t have any trouble getting comfy either because there’s plenty of adjustment
in this seat and the steering wheel can be moved for reach and rake which is great. And
even the entry level versions have got adjustable lumbar support and you can even alter the
height of the armrest. Although if you’re only 5” 4 & 1/4 , it’s not really that much
good! Every version of the Q3 gets this retractable 6.5” colour screen. You get DAB radio and
bluetooth as standard, Sat Nav is an optional extra. What you can’t get though is Apple
CarPlay smartphone mirroring and Audi’s virtual cockpit instrument display. So let’s
see how easy it is to set a destination in that optional Sat Nav and pair my mobile phone.
Okay, let’s start by setting a destination in the Sat Nav, if we go to address and scroll
up here. Let’s go somewhere in Portsmouth. Okay so we’ve got Portsmouth. Let’s add
a street, let’s go to High Street. High Street. House number, 100, if that exists,
yes it does, excellent. Start route guidance. Your route is being calculated. Well, that
was quite easy to use. Next up let’s pair my mobile phone. Okay, search for new mobile,
make sure my bluetooth is on. Bluetooth, quite a few cars there, might have to have a bit
of a clear out! Find bluetooth devices. Okay, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting. Ah, Rebecca’s
Iphone, want that. Hands free, yes. Connection is being established, please wait. Pair, hands
free, yes. Yes, that code matches. Connection is being established. Excellent, we are connected.
Even if you’re tall, you’ll have plenty of space in the front of the Q3 and these
door bins are large enough for a big bottle of water plus you’ve got two cup holders
here. Some more storage here for everyday bits and bobs and a decent sized glove box.
Move back here and it’s not quite so spacious, there’s not much more room than you’d
get in the back of a family hatchback. In fact, a BMW X1 does have more space Although
there’s decent sized door bins, that’s where I’ve put my umbrella and you can reasonably
comfortably sit 2 adults back here but 3 will be a bit of a squeeze. The Q3’s boot is
smaller than that of the Mercedes GLA however in reality it’s the Audi’s boot that’s easier to
live with because it has a wider opening and although this boot floor is non-adjustable,
there is a little bit of storage space underneath. And if you’d like to turn your Audi Q3 into
a van, all you do is press this button here and cue camera trickery. The Audi Q3 is a
premium car, so it does look expensive when compared with the Seat Ateca or Nissan Qashqai,
that said, up against a Mercedes GLA or a BMW X1, it’s priced competitively and with
strong residuals, PCP finance deals are rather tempting. We’d team our recommended 2 litre diesel
engine with SE specification, this may be the entry level trim but it still gets you
everything you’re likely to want including 17” alloy wheels, dual zone climate control
and rear parking sensors and when it comes to safety, the Audi Q3 received a full 5 star
rating when it was tested back in 2011. The Audi Q3 is good to drive, compact and inexpensive
to run. So if you’re looking for a small, comfortable, small SUV with a premium badge, it definitely
deserves to be on your short list and if you are thinking of buying one, head to WhatCar.com
and go to our ‘New car deals section’ where we can save you some money. You’ll
also find our full online review as well as its rivals reviews but before you go anywhere,
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