The Audi Q3 is offered with four engines. The 1.4-litre TFSI produces 148bhp and is only available in front-wheel drive, while the 2.0-litre TFSI creates 177bhp and only comes with Audi's quattro system. The 2.0-litre TDI comes in two states of tune - 148bhp and 181bhp.
With 280lb ft of torque on tap from 1750rpm, the 181bhp diesel engine is content to punt along in the low rev range that its economy-tuned, seven-speed dual-clutch transmission deems applicable.
Gear ratios often come and go imperceptibly, and while there’s a voluble rattle at re-ignition from the automatic stop-start, the engine seems thoroughly insulated. Working hard it is audible, but most of the time it sounds hushed and distant.
Demand considerably more pace from it and the powerplant responds with quick-fire bursts of convincing thrust. Its maximum output is exhausted by 4200rpm, but with a free-revving character and seven ratios to get through, energetic headway is not difficult to access.
But don't think the 148bhp version is left wanting. Its torque figure of 236lb ft makes driving pretty effortless and it's a proven and willing performer, and you'll rarely miss the extra poke, particularly when running costs are factored in – in real-world use the lower-powered diesel is by far the most economical of all the Audi's powerplant options. This model also records a 9.9sec 0-62mph time, against the 174bhp model's 8.2sec.
The dual-clutch S-tronic automatic transmission can be used in ‘S’ mode to access full performance or you can opt to shift for yourself via the wheel-mounted paddles. The dual-clutch unit has a habit of holding on to gears a little more aggressively than is often required, but the S mode’s performance bias can be useful at roundabouts, where the standard D mode has a tendency to leave the car in too high a gear for the usual positioning cut and thrust.
That’s a minor quibble. A more substantial one can be levelled at the new Efficiency mode, which, when selected, disengages the clutch each time the driver lifts off the throttle to preserve fuel by allowing the car to coast unencumbered by engine braking.
It’s a good idea, and one which is becoming increasingly commonplace on dual-clutch gearbox-equipped Volkswagen Group cars. But because it is not an automatic feature in the Q3, it often only occurs to you to select Efficiency mode on the motorway.