From £24,8257
New entry-level petrol engine option broadens the appeal of Audi’s compact premium SUV

Our Verdict

The Audi Q3 is a desirable and capable contender that fails to engage its driver, which ultimately, leaves it trailing the BMW X1 and the Range Rover Evoque

What is it?

This is the cheapest way into an Audi Q3. Until recently, that role was filled by a 138bhp, front-wheel-drive 2.0 TDI SE manual costing £25,595. Now, if you can't stretch to that, or if you're averse to or have no need for diesel power, there's this 1.4 TFSI-engined option, which undercuts the once entry-level TDI by a full £1725.

Just to cloud the issue slightly, here the 1.4 TFSI is tested in more expensive S-line trim, although the price difference between it, at £26,620, and an S-line-spec front-drive 2.0 TDI is the same £1725.

The 148bhp 1.4 TFSI beats the diesel on power but predictably falls short on torque, making 184lb ft to the TDI's 236lb ft. It also lags behind on claimed economy – 47.9mpg combined to a front-drive diesel's 54.3mpg, but consider that £1725 difference in initial outlay and the lower cost of petrol – although CO2 emissions match at 137g/km. 

Note that the 1.4 TFSI unit used here isn't the Volkswagen Group's latest version featuring what Audi dubs Cylinder on Demand (CoD) technology, which runs the four-pot engine on just two cylinders under light throttle loads. That engine is already available in the A3 range.

What's it like?

As it is, this 1.4 TFSI suits Audi’s compact SUV quite nicely. It's 55kg lighter in the nose than the diesel for starters, so the car feels a tad more agile. 

You notice the torque deficit, though, however for the most part it's no hardship to rev the quietly refined but enthusiastic petrol lump harder to compensate.

Of course the trade-off for this extra throttle use is reduced real-world fuel economy. Drive with a modicum of restraint and you'll see figures in the low 40s, but mid-30s are only a twitch of the right foot away. 

One caveat, however. The engine’s deficiencies are most apparent when pulling away from a standstill. In order to make prompt getaways it’s necessary to work the engine quite hard or risk having to play catch-up after changing to second gear. The problem would largely be solved if you bought your Q3 with a rapid-shifting S-tronic dual-clutch automatic gearbox, but the £1495 premium required for it would offset much of the 1.4 TFSI’s cost advantage over a diesel. 

Elsewhere, as we've recently noticed, the Q3's sometimes crashy ride has gained some welcome suppleness – and more than can be attributed to the difference in kerb weight over a diesel – while the steering is alarmingly lifeless around town and only slightly better as speeds increase.

The interior is another Audi masterclass in cabin execution. Allied to the raised driving position, toned if not muscular SUV aesthetic and all-round feeling of robust, premium gloss, it makes up a significant chunk of the Q3's appeal in the first place.

Should I buy one?

You could make a strong case for it. This isn't a large car on the inside, despite its exterior proportions, but if you're sold on the four-ringed allure and want a place on the compact SUV bandwagon, then fill your boots. 

Whether this petrol option is right for you depends on much on what you plan doing with the car. Yes, you will get fewer miles to the gallon than in a diesel, but that £1725 difference in asking price will buy nearly 300 gallons of unleaded right now, or enough for more than 10,000 miles of motoring at 35mpg. The 1.4 TFSI petrol engine only adds refinement to the overall package and it doesn’t want for performance, so for lower-mileage users it could prove to be the ideal way into a slick and likeable product.

Audi Q3 1.4 TFSI S-line

Price £26,620; 0-62mph 9.2sec; Top speed 126mph; Economy 47.9mpg; CO2 137g/km; Kerb weight 1385kg; Engine 4 cyls, 1394cc, turbo, petrol; Power 148bhp at 5000-6000rpm; Torque 184lb ft at 1750-3000rpm; Gearbox 6-speed manual

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Comments
11

1 May 2014
Audi didn't use the ACT engine in this car. That may help this this 2WD version of this pseudo SUV slip a tax band lower. Still okay for what it is. As far as the problems of it being underpower or lacking sharp handling are concerned. That hardly matters. Who buys Audi for handling or driving pleasure. Absence of "effortless driving" however may be an issue for the prospective buyer who'll likely stick with the diesel which however offers similar power as well as emissions!

1 May 2014
ACT version of the 1.4 due to its old PQ35 underpinnings.

1 May 2014
courtster wrote:

ACT version of the 1.4 due to its old PQ35 underpinnings.

While this may be the case but then the Volkswagen offers the ACT in (non-MQB) cars such as Polo for instance. So why not in this Q3 which is presumably based on the old A3\Golf platform.

1 May 2014
I've always thought the Q3 to look a little awkward: Its almost as if its trying to look like the Q7, but is rather embarrassed because its a lot smaller.

1 May 2014
Like to know why the 1.4 cod (140 hp) engine wasn't fitted ? Could there be a problem with all that tech?? I'd rather keep the tech for the ps4 and have the 148hp engine in the A3 too

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

2 May 2014
Considering the largest cost of running a car, particularly a new one, is depreciation, you're not actually going to save £1725 with the petrol. Even if they depreciate at the same rate, the diesel will be worth more at resale. That's not to say there isn't a case for the petrol, especially given the rising complexity of diesels, but I wish Autocar would think beyond the purchase price.

3 May 2014
This vehicle pretty much sums up why I hate Audi so much. Branch manager at Carphone warehouse on wheels.

6 May 2014
NY_69 wrote:

This vehicle pretty much sums up why I hate Audi so much. Branch manager at Carphone warehouse on wheels.

What does this mean? I am assuming there is a contempt here for people buying Audi's for aspirational reasons? Not sure where Carphone warehouse fits in either.

All rather distant from the car itself though.

6 May 2014
Drive an R8 and it looks as if you've hired it and you might be appearing as an extra at Amir Kahns wedding...drive a front wheel drive A3/4/5/6 with the numbers 2.0 followed by TDI and just confirms that you don't actually know anything about cars.

6 May 2014
NY_69 wrote:

Drive an R8 and it looks as if you've hired it and you might be appearing as an extra at Amir Kahns wedding...drive a front wheel drive A3/4/5/6 with the numbers 2.0 followed by TDI and just confirms that you don't actually know anything about cars.

Slightly harsh. The LED light loving fraternity do annoy me but that's a little silly. VW group certainly know how to sell cars in the UK (regardless of the cars overall ability) - the ability to brainwash the punters in/on the forecourts is a talent the group certainly has.

Q3 is worthy car but just a bit dull. You missed out the A1 BTW which is just ridiculously girly (no problem I guess if your female). Don't get the appeal with them at all.

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