What is it?
The top-spec version of Audi’s compact soft-roader; driven in the UK for the first time. Petrol-engined variants of the Q3 will be greatly outnumbered by their diesel counterparts, and Audi expects the most powerful derivative to make up just five per cent of sales.
However, musclebound SUVs have always proven popular halo vehicles even if they fail to find buyers in large numbers. The allure is power and prestige, and to that end the current range-topper gets a 208bhp take on the 2.0-litre TFSI lump.
That’s sufficient to propel the Q3, via all four wheels, to 62mph in 6.9 seconds - making it quicker than comparable BMW X1 or Range Rover Evoque. Starting at £28,610 for the SE trim, it’s slightly cheaper too, but that’s before you begin ticking Audi’s lengthy options list, which includes several items - Drive Select, adaptive dampers - that are essential.
What’s it like?
Before we consider the specific attributes of the petrol engine, a word on the Q3 experience in the UK. Prospective buyers already enticed by another slickly packaged Audi affair will be pleased to hear that the model takes to potholes and manhole covers reasonably well.
There’s a perhaps a hint that once again the manufacturer has opted for a slightly over-firm setup, but it takes some seriously troubled tarmac for this thought to occur. Otherwise the Q3 saunters along in a quiet, unruffled kind of way - especially with comfort mode appointed on Audi’s Drive Select.
However, armed with the butch petrol engine, it’s hard not to constantly reach for the more aggressive Dynamic setting. As ever with the self-appointed ‘quick’ car of the range, poking the TFSI is practically obligatory, and flat out, the Q3 delivers the straight-line, linear oomph you’d expect from the figures.
Unfortunately, the added performance doesn’t necessarily equate to increased enjoyment of the product. Hooked up to Audi’s twin-clutch S Tronic ‘box, the gearshifts are breakneck, but the transmission has a habit of making powerplants characterless and sterile.
And those same descriptives could be applied to the Q3’s handling prowess. At moderate speeds the condensed SUV is precise and very easy to live with. Push on and the superb body control and quattro traction ensure that it remains competent - it just doesn’t become any more fun.
Should I buy one?
Perhaps. This particular Q3 largely achieves what Audi intended it to - namely, it goes fast - but there’s never any impression that the model deserves much recognition beyond its niche audience.
That’s because, like much of the manufacturer’s range, there isn’t a tremendous amount of reward to be had from torturing the TFSI aside from arriving at your destination marginally quicker. If that’s good enough for you then the premium may be justifiable, but we’d happily settle for the improved economy and lower price of the better-suited 175bhp 2.0-litre TDI.
Audi Q3 2.0 TFSI Quattro
Price: 28,610; Top speed: 143mph; 0-62mph: 6.9 seconds; Economy: 36.7mpg; Co2: 179g/km; Kerbweight: 1565kg; Engine type, cc: 1984cc turbocharged four-cylinder petrol; Power: 208bhp (5000rpm - 6200rpm); Torque: 221lb ft (1800rpm - 4900rpm); Gearbox: Seven-speed automatic