Audi Q3 SUV (2018 - ) review
The Audi Q3 is a practical family SUV that goes up against the BMW X1, Jaguar E-Pace and Volvo XC40. It features a wide range of engines and has lots of tech available inside, but it all comes at a premium price.
The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.5
The Audi Q3 is a small premium SUV with an eye-catching design, backed up by a high-quality interior, making it a desirable and well-rounded machine, albeit one in a sea of very good cars from rival manufacturers. Good passenger space and a generous boot add to its appeal, as does its wide range of engines.
- Good levels of standard equipment
- Spacious interior and decent boot capacity
- Plenty of kerbside appeal
- Some versions feel underpowered
- Uncertainty over ownership costs
- Dashboard layout could be better
Interested in buying an Audi Q3?
How good does it look?
There are three versions of the Q3 to choose from. The Sport model features 18-inch alloy wheels and sharp looking LED lights on the front and rear, the latter including indicators that appear to swipe in motion. The S line specification is styled more aggressively with different bumpers, side sills and larger 19-inch alloy wheels. Topping off the Q3 range is the Vorsprung model with 20-inch alloy wheels and, in addition to the S line body kit, it gets a black styling pack around the grille and window frames.
What's the interior like?
As soon as you get into the Audi Q3, you know you’re in a premium car. The materials used throughout are a real step up from more mainstream SUVs like the Ford Kuga and Nissan Qashqai. The digital instrument cluster looks impressive, as does the infotainment system. Apart from the climate controls, there aren’t many physical buttons, and the switches and column stalks all have a solid, expensive feel. The cabin isn’t short of storage areas, either. From the driver’s seat, the view is largely unobstructed, and the rear-view mirror offers a good view out of the back window.
How practical is it?
For a small five-seat SUV, the Q3 offers generous amounts of passenger space, especially for those in the rear. Having said that, the middle seat in the back does lose out on a bit of foot space because of the transmission tunnel in the floor. All versions feature rear seats that can slide forward or back by 150 millimetres, which is really useful. The 40/20/40 split folding rear seat backs add to the versatility and are easy to fold down. The boot measures 530 litres, which is below average for the segment. However, when the rear seat backs are down, the Audi can swallow up to 1,525 litres, giving it one of the largest capacities among its main rivals. All Q3 models also feature a power-operated tailgate as standard.
What's it like to drive?
Even though this is a raised SUV, the Q3 drives with a lot of composure, meaning it doesn’t lean too much when driving through a series of bends, for example. It soaks up large and small bumps well, too. It's got a clever steering system, called variable ratio steering, which means it requires less steering lock when driving in town and through tight corners, though remains stable on the motorway. This type of steering is especially useful when parking, as it needs fewer turns of the wheel from side-to-side.
All S line models get what Audi calls its ‘Sport’ suspension, which is a touch firmer than the standard setup. There is the option to upgrade to more elaborate adaptive suspension, which is standard on range-topping versions, but unless you frequently travel on poorly surfaced roads, we think the standard suspension is more than adequate.
How powerful is it?
The Q3 has a wide range of diesel and petrol engines that are available with automatic and manual gearboxes. The 1.5-litre petrol engine, badged 35 TFSI, produces 150 horsepower and delivers adequate performance for urban and city commutes. However, it can start to feel a bit breathless when you’re fully laden or facing steep inclines. The 40 TFSI pushes the power to 190 horsepower, but we've not tried it yet.
Should you typically drive longer distances or carry heavy loads, then the 2.0-litre diesel in the 35 TDI will suit you better. Like the petrol engine, it has an output of 150 horsepower, but has more pulling power. This extra shove means that you don’t have to work it particularly hard, and it’s pretty quiet and smooth, too. Versions of this engine with the manual gearbox also feature all-wheel drive. The 45 TDI ups the power to 190 horsepower, and feels even more muscular and quick, so would be worth looking at if you'll regularly have a full car, or just want a bit more go.
If you’re looking for more performance still, then there's the 45 TFSI, with its 230-horsepower 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, fitted with a seven-speed automatic gearbox. It becomes more urgent as you work it harder, and it’s unobtrusive when you’re pottering about at lower speeds.
How much will it cost me?
The Q3 does come with a premium price tag, but it is very well-equipped as standard, and that – combined with the premium image and high quality - does go some way towards justifying the cost. Buyers can choose several of the engines with front-wheel drive, which helps to keep purchase prices and running costs down if you don’t particularly need the extra traction of four-wheel drive. Resale values for Audi’s cars are generally high, but industry predictions suggest the Q3 might not hold onto its value as well as rivals like the BMW X2 or Volvo XC40 so the total cost of ownership should remain reasonable for the Q3.
How reliable is it?
According to the Warranty Direct Reliability Index, Audi languishes in the lower half of the manufacturer table. The story is worse in the JD Power 2019 Vehicle Dependability Study, which sees Audi third from bottom overall. Whatever the case, it may be worth considering the extended warranty options. All new Audi models come with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, with further options to add a fourth or fifth year, or a higher mileage limit, at an additional cost. Owners can also spread servicing costs into monthly payments.
How safe is it?
The Q3 comes with a good level of safety equipment as standard. There are several driver assistance systems to help with the day-to-day driving, including lane departure warning that alerts you when you veer out of your lane, along with side assist, which provides a visual warning when another vehicle is in your blind spot and alerts you should you attempt to signal and move out. Front-facing sensors can sense pedestrians and cyclists and, if it detects the risk of a collision, it will provide acoustic, haptic and visual warnings and, if necessary, perform braking assistance or an emergency braking action in certain circumstances. The car scored the maximum five stars in crash tests by safety organisation Euro NCAP.
How much equipment do I get?
The Q3 isn’t short on standard equipment, even in the entry-grade Sport trim. You get LED front and rear lights, a fully digital ‘Virtual Cockpit’ instrument display, windscreen with acoustic glazing, selectable drive modes, hill hold assist to prevent rolling back on inclines, rear parking sensors, cruise control with a speed limiter function, aluminium roof rails, 18-inch alloy wheels, a powered tailgate and a 10.1-inch infotainment touch-screen with sat-nav. All Sport models also come with a three-year subscription to Audi Connect Infotainment Services.
Mid-level S line versions gain firmer suspension, ambient interior lighting, rear privacy glass, 19-inch alloys, brushed aluminium interior inlays, black cloth headlining and front seats finished in part-leather with embossed S logos.
Topping the Q3 range is the Vorsprung specification. Visually it is differentiated by a black styling pack that covers the window trims, front grille and mirror housings. Other standard features include 20-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, adaptive suspension, heated and electrically adjustable front seats in Alcantara and leather, panoramic glass sunroof, 360-degree cameras to aid parking, a wireless charging pad for compatible mobile devices and a Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system.
Fans of the Q3 will be drawn to it because they want a spacious and stylish SUV that is easy to park and comfortable to drive over long distances. Devotees of the latest in-car tech will also find the Audi Q3 appealing, and some will be drawn to its design and brand image, which live up to the expectations of customers at this premium end of the market.