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

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

Add a comment…
vinylnutter 26 February 2012

Re: Audi Q3 2.0 TDI

Fidji wrote:
The Evoque can have 240bhp. The XC60 can have 300bhp.

Fair point, however you compared XV, X1 and Qashqai.

Lee23404 23 February 2012

Re: Audi Q3 2.0 TDI

Will86 wrote:
but I reckon this base model, with about £1500 of options needed to fill a few holes in the spec would be a reasonably safe place to put your money for 3 years

I'm thinking of getting one and after looking at the brochure I'm not sure it even needs that many options. It comes as standard with dual zone CC, parking sensors, auto lights/wipers and a great stereo so the only 'essential' missing as far as I can see is cruise control which is only a couple of hundred quid.

I just wish it was available in red.

v8 22 February 2012

Re: Audi Q3 2.0 TDI

I would rather have a Dacia Duster and save £10000