Audi A3 Review

Find out more about the Audi Q3 in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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3
Out of 5

Pros

  • High-quality interior
  • Efficient engines
  • Quite stylish with the latest update

Cons

  • Ride is sometimes a little harsh
  • Passenger space is not the best
  • Expensive options list
  • MPG

    37 - 60

  • CO2

    124 - 174 g/km

  • Video

  • Price Guide

  • Trims

  • Summary

Model review

The Q3 was the smallest of Audi's 'Q' range of crossovers and SUVs until the introduction of the Q2 in 2016. All of these vehicles have a 'Q' prefix which comes from Audi's 40 year history of 'quattro' four-wheel drive – although not all versions of the Q cars have four-wheel drive - and the Q3 takes its name from the fact it's based on the A3 range.

The model was first shown in 2007 as the 'Cross Coupé quattro', although this had a more coupe-like roofline where the production car uses a more conventional crossover body, like the Q5 and Q7 above it.

Mechanically similar to the Skoda Yeti and Volkswagen Tiguan, the Q3 sits in the C-segment crossover category, alongside some of the best-selling cars in the UK, such as the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage, Ford Kuga and Mazda CX-5. However the premium nature of the Audi means that its rivals are more likely to be BMW's X1, the Mercedes-Benz GLA and the Infiniti QX30.

Available with a selection of TDI diesel and TFSI petrol engines, the Q3 is very much a 'lifestyle' SUV rather than a dedicated off-roader, although four-wheel drive is available on most models. The Q3 was also the first – and so far only – Audi Q model to receive the 'RS' performance treatment, although the RS Q3 was discontinued following the most recent facelift.

Although the Q3 has been updated twice over the course of its production, it's the oldest vehicle that Audi currently makes and a new model is due to arrive in 2018.

Latest model

The latest iteration of the Q3 was introduced in late 2016 as a second facelift of the original Q3. It still uses the same underpinnings as the first car, which means it's effectively based on the 2005 Volkswagen Golf, and it's one of the oldest vehicles that the Volkswagen Group still produces.

It's pitched as a small, premium, lifestyle SUV, with the same know-how that makes the Q5 and Q7 such terrific places to be and more capable off road than any owner is likely to experience. It's similar to the now-defunct Skoda Yeti underneath, but they're poles apart, with the Yeti being more of a utilitarian package and the Q3 being perhaps the definitive premium vehicle of the segment.

The Q3 uses a small range of TDI diesel and TFSI petrol engines. Unusually for Audi there are neither performance options – an RS model was discontinued with the recent facelift – nor hybrids. Manual and automatic cars are available, and cheaper versions use front-wheel drive only, despite the Q badging. Trim levels are the familiar Audi staples of Sport, S Line and Black Edition.

Value for money

Starting at £27,610 for the 1.4-litre petrol Sport model with a manual gearbox, the Q3 appears to be rather expensive – an equivalent A3 is just under £3,000 cheaper. It's reasonably well-equipped though, as all Q3s have dual-zone climate control, DAB radio, satellite navigation, cruise control, electric and heated door mirrors and rear parking sensors. With cloth seats and manual seat adjustment, it's difficult to escape the notion that a Nissan Qashqai or Mazda CX-5 at a similar price point would more creature comforts.

In fact you have to spend £35,220 on the Black Edition to rid yourself of cloth upholstery – the S Line has part-leather – or spend £485 from the options list, and no Q3 has electric adjusting seats without a £795 option pack, and this is really the flaw in the Q3's value equation.

It's often the case with Audi's vehicles that the specification isn't entirely complete and the options list to make up the difference is fabulously expensive – however, there are some really neat things available, such as an inflatable tent that attaches to the car for camping.

It wouldn't be too hard to end up well over £40,000 out of pocket for a Q3. Making careful and considered choices using the online configurator would be a wise course of action.

Running costs are generally reasonable, though be wary of vehicles with larger wheels, the automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive, as these can all affect your fuel economy, insurance and emissions.

The larger petrol engine also sits in a much higher first-year VED band, and don't forget that you'll pay even more road tax if you do pay £40,000 or more for your Q3. Higher specification cars also perform marginally worse for resale value, so it will pay to be very diligent with your trim and options choices.

Looks and image

The Q3 scores well on the image front, particularly after the recent revisions to bring it into line with its siblings. It now has the same front end as the Q7, but without the sheer bulk of that car it looks far less incongruous on the roads and it doesn't carry the same negative 'footballer's car' image as a result.

From the driver's seat it's hard to fault too, as Audi has a reputation for really rather high quality interiors. The Q3 is an older car now, so it's not quite up there with Audi's best when it comes to design, but it's impressively screwed together and if you specify it with the right finishings it will cause some envy for those looking in through the windows.

Audi's own image is a little varied. A number of motorsport successes – particularly at Le Mans – means it's one of the most recognised vehicle brands on the planet, but there's a stereotype of the road manners of Audi drivers that's hard to shake off. You may find other road users impolite, simply due to the badge!

Video Review

Space and practicality

Ultimately the Q3 is a high-riding small family hatchback, and although it seems large on the outside, it should be approached with that fact in mind.

That's not to say it's cramped – you can certainly fit four adults into the car without much complaint, but a fifth person would not enjoy their time squeezed into the middle rear seat, with poor shoulder-room and relatively little knee-room. The rear doors are on the small side too.

Boot space is good though. At 420-litres, it's more than 10% larger than the A3 on which it's based, and the opening itself is large and wide. There is a small lip to negotiate but otherwise it's excellent, and the boot lid can be specified with a hands-free function. The rear seats fold down – although not flat – to open out a 1,365-litre space.

EuroNCAP tested the Q3 in 2011 and gave it the maximum of five stars. It rated well for adult occupant safety and netted 86% in the safety assist category too. Although the tests have changed since then, the Q3 has been updated twice and all models have stability control, six airbags and ISOFIX child seat mounting.

Lane assist, side assist and hill hold control are optional, but some of the more recent driving aids you'll find on other Audis - collision mitigation, for example – are not available.

Engines

There are four engines are available with the Audi Q3, with two diesels and two petrol options.

The entry unit is a 1.4-litre TFSI petrol with cylinder on demand technology. This shuts down parts of the engine when cruising in order to save additional fuel. It's a 148hp engine which returns up to 51.4mpg combined, depending on specification, and 127g/km CO2. Performance is reasonable, with a 0-60mph time of nine seconds, with automatic cars around 0.3s quicker. The 1.4 is only available with front-wheel drive.

A 2.0-litre TFSI provides a higher performance option. With 177hp, it's a second and a half quicker to 60mph at 7.4s, and top speed is raised from 127mph to 135mph. Fuel economy is between 40.4mpg and 42.8mpg combined, depending on your specification, and this engine is only available with quattro four-wheel drive and the 7-speed S-tronic automatic gearbox.

Diesel cars are all powered by a 2.0-litre TDI, although it's available in two different states of tune. The entry model is a 148hp version which returns best fuel economy figures of 62.8mpg in the Sport version with smaller wheels. It's the least rapid Q3, with 60mph coming up in 9.4s, but it's the most versatile as it's available with front- or four-wheel drive, manual or automatic gearbox and all three trim levels.

The higher-output diesel has 181hp. This isn't quite enough to match the higher-output petrol's 0-60mph sprint, with 7.7s for the manual car, and the fuel economy drops to a best-case 53.3mpg with a CO2 rating of 138g/km. This does have the best towing capacity of any Q3 too, with two tonnes as opposed to 1.8 for the other engines.

Running costs

The Q3's running costs are reasonable no matter which engine you pick. Despite the size and shape of the car, there's no really powerful option anymore but also no really obvious frugal choice either.

The entry-level diesel has the best fuel economy figures, although you'll need to pick a Sport model with a manual gearbox to truly maximise it. 62.8mpg combined is a best case and although you're more likely to see low to mid-50s in every day driving it's a solid return. The 117g/km CO2 rating puts it into the £160 bracket for first-year VED.

You might want to think twice about the 2.0-litre TFSI petrol though. Both versions of this are firmly in the £500 first-year VED bracket, and 40.4mpg combined is likely to be nearer to low 30s out on Britain's roads – it's going to be around £400 more a year to keep fuelled for the average driver.

Insurance isn't terribly costly, with all cars falling between group 20 and group 28. Residual values are likely to be fair too, with 45-48% retained value after three years.

Things to look out for

The Q3 doesn't have any specific reputation for faults, gripes or issues, and rates quite highly in reliability and warranty surveys. It's to be expected from a brand that has a habit of screwing its cars together rather well, and you shouldn't anticipate any faults that arise as being too expensive to repair – after all, the Q3 shares a lot of its moving and buzzing parts with just about every Volkswagen Group product in the C segment since 2005, so parts availability should be good.

However, the Q3 is one of the vehicles affected by the infamous 'Dieselgate', and this is something that owners should be acutely aware of if they have a 2.0-litre TDI model.

Although the elevated emissions over the official claim shouldn't affect the user directly, the fuel economy will be worse than you expect. You should also keep in mind that the official Dieselgate 'fix' involves a software update and owners have been reporting an increase in issues with the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) unit and diesel particulate filter (DPF) failures following this update.

Rivals

The Q3 is fighting in one of the hardest sectors in the business. Just about every manufacturer offers a C-segment crossover now and for most brands they're a huge success.

The biggest names in the sector are the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage, Ford Kuga and Mazda CX-5. The Q3 also faces rivals from within, with the Volkswagen Tiguan, Skoda Yeti/Karoq and Seat Ateca, all of which are now based on newer platforms than the Q3.

The Q3 has a premium badge on the nose though, so its most direct rivals are the other premium brands. BMW's X1 and the Mercedes-Benz GLA are the main alternatives, but the GLA-based Infiniti QX30 will also be considered by a few.

Depreciation warning

Usually a car with Audi's four rings on it will hold its value well, and while the Q3 is better at it than some of the other Q crossovers, it's only really a reasonable performer in this regard.

How the car's residuals fare is not hugely trim-specific, so you needn't specify your Q3 with one eye on depreciation.

So long as you ensure it has the bases covered for what would be the bare minimum of expected equipment for a second owner, you could see it keeping as much as half of its value after three years. Petrol and manual will be less attractive second-hand, as will the more expensive Black Edition versions.

Which Q3 to Pick

Cheapest to Buy When New

35 TFSI Sport 5dr

Most MPG

35 TDI Sport 5dr S Tronic

Fastest Model (0-60)

45 TFSI Quattro S Line 5dr S Tronic

Trims Explained

There are just three different specifications of the Audi Q3. All models have LED rear lights, manual seat adjustment, acoustic glass, electric four-way lumbar support, dual-zone climate control, DAB radio, satellite navigation, cruise control and a retractable 6.5-inch display screen.

Sport

The Sport version features 17-inch alloy wheels, Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, cloth seats, a leather multifunction steering wheel, and rear parking sensors.

Prices start from £27,610

S Line

S Line adds LED headlights, dynamic rear indicators, electric tailgate opening, part-leather seats with embossed 'S' logo, S Line badging, chrome exhaust tips, a fold function on the door mirrors and Audi's Parking System Plus, which includes a camera system. It also has larger, 18-inch wheels.

Prices start from £29,850

Black Edition

Black Edition has a unique black styling pack, covering the mirrors, roof rails, spoiler, window trims, grille and number plate surround. The wheels are upgraded to 19-inch options, and an S Line sports suspension is fitted which lowers the ride height by 20mm. Privacy glass is also fitted and the seats are leather/Alcantara, while the sporty look is finished with stainless steel pedals and an aluminium gear knob.

Prices start from £35,220

Summary

  1. Prices start at £27,610
  2. No hybrid option
  3. Entry-level petrol is front-wheel drive only
  4. Navigation as standard
  5. DAB radio as standard
  6. 420-litre boot
  7. Electric tailgate standard on S Line and Black Edition
  8. Pricey options list
  9. 5-star EuroNCAP rating
  10. Be wary of Dieselgate fix on 2.0 TDI

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