Audi was one of the first premium brands to embrace the compact SUV made popular by the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, launching the original Q3 back in 2011.
The segment has since exploded with numerous rivals trying to muscle in, including the brilliant Volvo XC40 and Range Rover Evoque, so Audi’s all-new Q3 isn’t going to have things quite as easy the second time round.
Audi Q3: Design
- Much more striking design than outgoing model
- Features a large, eight-sided front grille
- You'll want to opt for large wheels than the standard 18-inch rims
With Audi now offering the entry-level Q2 alongside the Q3, Audi’s tried to make a clearer distinction between the two models buy employing a much more striking design than the original model featured.
Engines: 2.0-liter 4-cylinder petrol or 2.0-liter 4-cylinder diesel
Power output: 227bhp (45 TFSI) | 190bhp (35 TDI)
Max speed: 144mph (45 TFSI) | 131mph (35 TDI)
0-62mph: 6.3 seconds (45 TFSI) | 9.3 seconds (35 TDI)
Fuel economy: 34.4mpg (45 TFSI) | 49.6mpg (35 TDI)
Borrowing many of the design cues from the flagship Q8 SUV, there’s a large, eight-sided front grille that dominates the front of the car, with angular intakes adding to the purposeful look of the car. Look a little a closer at these intakes and you’ll notice that these are actually blank with no need to be there other than to make the Q3 look a little more muscley.
Elsewhere, Audi’s designers have worked in plenty of sharp creases and strong lines into the body of the car. This results in a less elegant design than the new Evoque perhaps, but it certainly still looks the part and looks well proportioned. The entry-level 18-inch wheels look a bit weedy, though, so you’ll want to step up an inch and pick something from the options list.
Audi Q3: Interior
- Longer than older model with more interior space
- 10.25-inch Virtual Cockpit is standard across the range
- Plenty of pleasing soft-touch materials and other quality finishes
The new Q3 is now 3.9 inches longer than the older model – again, helping differentiate the Q3 from the smaller Q2. This longer platform now means there’s now more interior space, most notably in the back, where a couple of adults will be able to sit quite comfortably on a long-haul journey.
If you’re going to be ferrying children around then you might want to take advantage of the fact that the rear seats can be shifted forward 5.9 inches to give you a bit more boot space, making it that bit easier to squeeze prams and other bits in the loadbay. That said, the trunk is still a decent size, offering a pretty bulbous 24 cubic feet with the rear seats shoved forward.
Up front Audi has equipped even base models with a decent smattering of tech, including a 10.25-inch Virtual Cockpit (though a 12.3-inch version is available on high-end models) that replaces a traditional speedo and rev counter. It can be tailored to display the sat nav should you wish, while there’s also a slick touchscreen display in the centre console.
This has been cleverly integrated into the dash, with the large screen rich in detail, and as we’ve experienced on other recent Audis, delivers a pleasing response when used.
The screen is also cloud connected as standard, which means you get real-life traffic reports, while there’s the option to set-up a Wi-Fi hotspot.
The Q3 enjoys a great Bang & Olufsen Premium Sound System that uses 15 speakers and produces a total of 680 watts. This combines with four additional speakers in the dashboard, which cleverly use the reflections of the windshield, and one speaker per D pillar to generate a 3D sound environment. A special algorithm that Audi developed in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute adds impressive width and depth to the sound – the interior of the Audi Q3 sounds larger.
The fit and finish of the interior doesn’t disappoint either, with plenty of pleasing soft-touch materials and other quality finishes and switchgear. This all goes to produce a classy feel inside the cabin.
Q3 owners can also take advantage of the myAudi app, which enables seamless transmission of navigation routes. Plot your route before you leave on your smartphone and as soon as you jump in the car, route guidance is ready on screen.
As well as this, it’s also possible to stream music, remotely lock and unlock the car, check the car status and pinpoint where the car is parked (if you’re one of these people who forgets where you’ve parked). On a cold morning, you can also operate the optional auxiliary heating using the myAudi app.
It’s also easy to connect your smart device, with two USB ports upfront (with the optional Audi music interface), with one of them type C. There are also two USB sockets and a 12V socket for the rear available. AMI also establishes contact with both iOS and Android mobile phones to bring Apple CarPlay or Android Auto environment onto Q3’s display.
Audi Q3: On the road
- 227bhp engine is great and paired with a 7-speed auto
- Steering is accurate with a decent amount of grip
- Brilliant for long journeys
In the US, Audi only offers the Q3 with a single petrol engine, but it’s a cracker. The 2.0-liter 45 TFSI power unit produces 227bhp comes straight from the mighty Volkswagen Golf GTI and sees it come with Audi’s four-wheel-drive Quattro technology and a 7-speed automatic gearbox.
For a premium SUV, the Q3 is competitively priced, starting at $34,700 for the Premium model (in the UK this is the Sport model starting at £33,395), while the range-topping Prestige will set you back $42,900 before extras. In the UK, the top model is the Vorsprung 45 TFSI Quattro S Tronic at £46,045.
In Europe, there’s more choice, with an entry-level 1.5-liter 35 TFSI petrol with 150bhp, a 2.0-liter 40 TFSI petrol with 190bhp, along with one 2.0-liter diesel, the 35 TDI with 150bhp.
Performance is good from the Q3’s 2.0-liter engine – don’t quite expect Golf GTI levels of performance as it’s quite a bit heavier at 3736 lbs, but you’ll still get to 60mph in 6.3 seconds if you opt for the Q3’s Dynamic driving mode. This sharpens up engine performance as well as ride and handling. That said, the auto transmission can still be a bit hesitant when you want to push on.
It’s good fun on winding roads too, with accurate steering and a decent amount of grip coming from the tyres, meaning you can push into corners with a good amount of speed. However, its more natural environment is the freeway, where it happily eats through the miles, making it a great highway cruiser.
Audi Q3: Verdict
Audi’s certainly not holding back with the Q3, improving on the outgoing model in pretty much every way. The chiseled styling makes it look much sharper, while the cabin is nice and classy, thanks in part to the decent dollop of tech on offer. A very solid performer on the road as well, if you’re in the market for a compact SUV, this should certainly be on your list.