Audi prestige with a big range of engines, good road manners and the choice of 2WD and 4WD
High-quality interior
Efficient engines
Almost hatchback-like handling
Looks rather dumpy, particularly at the rear
While 'affordable', it's not cheap
Little else, really

Audi Q3 review (2011-on)

Audi's smallest SUV combines go-anywhere ability with a hatchback-like driving manner

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What is the Audi Q3?

Affordable running and that desirable four-ring badge are the two biggest reasons people buy the Q3, Audi’ smallest SUV. And, like its rivals, the Q3 offers that coveted raised driving position and the added versatility of extra ground clearance. The list of alternatives worthy of a test drive is long and varied, but at the very least it should include the BMW X1, Honda CR-V, Ford Kuga, Land Rover Freelander and VW Tiguan.

Picking the best model depends on whether it’s a private or business purchase, and how many miles will be travelled annually. For the ultimate in frugality, the front-wheel-drive, 138bhp 2.0 TDI SE is the best buy, as it returns up to 54mpg. If you need four-wheel-drive, then either the higher-powered 175bhp 2.0 TDI or the 2.0 TFSI with 168bhp would be the next best choice.


The drive

Here’s the good news: the Q3 is much like a regular hatchback to drive and live with. It doesn’t feel big and bulky (in fact it’s one of the shorter cars in its class), the raised driving position gives a commanding view of the road ahead and surrounding traffic, the steering and manual gearchange are light and refinement is impressive. In other words, it’s not a taxing experience.

With the higher-powered diesel comes the assurance of all-weather traction, thanks to the quattro permanent four-wheel-drive system, which allows the Q3 to tackle damp farmers’ markets or greasy slipways comfortably. It is partnered with an S-tronic, seven-speed automatic transmission as standard, though.

Choose the Audi Drive Select system and this neat gizmo allows the driver to cycle between different settings, such as comfort or sport. But of arguably greatest relevance is the efficiency mode, which tunes the throttle response and gearshift patterns to save fuel. As for the road-holding, the Q3 judges things just about right. It will cover long-distance motorway trips in comfort yet remains responsive when faced with a winding country road.


The interior

This is perfectly accommodating for four adults and their luggage, or Mum and Dad with the kids in their child seats, but five is a pinch. The boot is a generous 460 litres, and Audi offers the option of a front passenger seat that can be folded forward flat, much like the rear seats — a blessing for DIY obsessives.

Judged against its peers, the Q3’s dashboard and general standard of fit and finish throughout the cabin is first class. Made from materials that ooze a premium feel, it is clearly laid out, comfortable and comes with good standard equipment — including automatic lights and windscreen wipers, Bluetooth synchronisation and climate control.

The Q3 is one of the best compact SUVs money can buy. Make sure it’s on your test drive shortlist.


The one to buy

Audi Q3 2.0 TDI SE



1968cc, four-cylinder turbodiesel
138bhp @ 4200rpm
3236 lb ft @ 1750rpm
six-speed manual
0-62mph in 9.9sec
Top speed:
54.3mpg (combined)
Road tax band:
L 4385mm, W 1831mm, H 1608 mm

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