From £24,825
Overall, a likeable, sensible, high-quality compact premium SUV. Just go easy on the options list

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

18 February 2012

What is it?

This is the cheapest way in to the cute and compact Audi Q3 SUV. Ignore the faintly ludicrous £33,090 after-options ‘as-tested’ price of the car driven here; a considerably less challenging £24,560 buys you a front-drive, 138bhp 2.0 TDI engined example in SE trim and with a six-speed manual gearbox.

What’s it like?

Appealing, in a no-nonsense – or at least not much nonsense – way. It may only be driven by its front wheels, and only have a out-dated, low-tech manual gearbox, and only produce 138bhp from its 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine, but the essence of what makes the Q3 such a desirable motor in the first place is undimmed.

In other words, this is a stylish if understated premium SUV but with the restrained footprint of a family hatch. The Q3’s cabin is never going to win awards for spaciousness, especially in the rear, but it is an extremely well-executed bijou driving environment. And you won’t waste half a Saturday afternoon circling the town centre trying to find a parking space to fit the car into.

Out on the open road the 138bhp motor is a proven and willing performer, and for the most part you won’t miss the extra 36bhp of the higher-powered variant. You will, however, notice the almost effortless 50mpg-plus fuel economy, stretchable to nearer 60mpg with a careful right foot on gentle motorway runs.

You might also notice occasional traction issues when gassing hard out of junctions or roundabouts as the inside front wheel spins and slips half a revolution or so. If the thousandths of a second in lost journey time this costs you will make a daily difference between life and death, then you probably need to a shell out for a quattro Q3; the rest of us will make do with front-wheel drive.

Should I buy one?

It depends where you’re coming from. If you’ve got £25k to spend on a small-ish SUV then that money will, for example, buy you an admittedly slightly larger but extremely well-equipped Skoda Yeti.

However, if you’re sold on Audi’s premium-quality build and associated badge kudos, and you want a compact car with the advantage of an SUV’s raised ride height and over-hedge viewing facility but don’t need four-wheel drive or a dual-clutch ’box, then this could prove to be an eminently sensible purchase. And if you plan on covering a lot of miles you can’t argue against the 138bhp 2.0 TDI’s everyday-achievable 50 – and more – mpg.

Overall, a likeable, sensible, high-quality compact premium SUV. Just go easy on the options list.

Audi Q3 2.0 TDI SE 140

Price: £24,560; Price as tested: £33,090; 0-62mph: 9.9sec; Top speed: 126mph; Kerb weight: 1445kg; Economy: 54.3mpg (combined); CO2: 137g/km; Engine: 4 cyls in line, 1968cc, turbodiesel; Max power: 138bhp at 4200rpm; Max torque: 236lb ft at 1750-2500rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual

Join the debate

Comments
33

20 February 2012

I'm not sure the engine performs very well at all in this Q3, and whilst I know it is a premium brand, I'm not sure it justifies its pricetag, as it is actually quite a small car. I'd rather have an XV, X1 or Qashqai. This thing really doesn't float my boat.

Audi could change my mind if they put in the 265bhp version of the 2.0 engine. 211bhp isn't quite enough to excite me in a car of this size!

20 February 2012

[quote Autocar]It may only be driven by its front wheels, and only have a clumsy, out-dated, low-tech manual gearbox, and only produce 138bhp from its 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine, but the essence of what makes the Q3 such a desirable motor in the fist place is undimmed. [/quote]

Is that an opinion or factual information about the gearbox?

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

20 February 2012

I don't think I've ever seen the Q3 described as 'cute' before.

Anonymous

20 February 2012

Hi Teg, apologies for that, the gearbox itself works perfectly well, although first gear feels a tad short. I was being clumsy with my words in an attempt to highlight the relatively simple spec of the car compared with the pricier S-tronic equipped variants. I've had the offending adjective removed.

Tim

20 February 2012

[quote Tim Dickson]

Hi Teg, apologies for that, the gearbox itself works perfectly well, although first gear feels a tad short. I was being clumsy with my words in an attempt to highlight the relatively simple spec of the car compared with the pricier S-tronic equipped variants. I've had the offending adjective removed.

Tim

[/quote]

Thanks Tim.

I sort of guessed it was meant to be a bit tongue in cheek but I wasn't sure if they had managed to louse up what should be a fairly basic part of the car.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

20 February 2012

Not a great fan of SUVs or, for that matter, Audis in general, but I don't mind the look of the Q3. That said, looks apart, its most direct rival, the X1, is probably more capable and better value. Also, in additon to the Yeti, the VW Tiguan is also another cheaper strong in-house alternative.

20 February 2012

[quote catnip]

I don't think I've ever seen the Q3 described as 'cute' before.

[/quote] Neither have I, nor do I think this is cute. Mind you, compared to the Q7 it could be classed as cute

20 February 2012

[quote Fidji] I'm not sure it justifies its pricetag, as it is actually quite a small car.[/quote][quote Fidji]211bhp isn't quite enough to excite me in a car of this size![/quote]

So it is quite a small car, but 211 hp is not enough?

20 February 2012

A Q anything initially meant 4wd SUV - Audi being Audi and like all German makes derives its profitability from the options list. Personally I would never ever buy a Q series that was 4wd - it defeats the object of the exercise completly in my view

20 February 2012

Hmm now if I had the £25K in my pocket would I buy this..? or on a well known broker site £24685 would get me a dealership selling a 163BHP 4 wheel drive Volvo XC60 ES with a very classy, spacious and comfortable interior and a lets call it a 'more neutral' image in many peoples eyes.

Job done.

(£26.5K slight stretch would get me the 215BHP version!)

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