Audi has now added the Q3 as the third dimension to its sports utility range that also includes the big Q7 and the middleweight Q5. The new baby is more compact and city friendly with lower running costs. That means it will be as welcome a the daffodils this spring.
The average modern SUV will never see mud in anger. Instead, it is expected to carry out the everyday motoring functions just like any other car. We still like the high driving position and feeling of go-anywhere strength. Above all, we appreciate a quality item and that is what Audi delivers with the Q3.
As not everyone needs four-wheel drive, the starter model comes with front-wheel drive only. It is powered by the familiar 140PS TDI engine and six-speed manual gearbox. Priced from £24,560, this is the entry level car and it scores on running costs with 54mpg on the Combined Cycle and emissions of 137g/km.
The car I have been driving is the mid-range Q3 quattro 2.0 TDI SE which has the more powerful 177PS diesel engine and the famous all-wheel drive system. It also came with the clever dual clutch S tronic automatic gearbox – this impresses with its fast and smooth changes without affecting performance. You can even change gear ‘manually’ using paddles behind the steering wheel.
The Q3 drives just like other Audi models, despite its extra height. This gritty diesel engine seemed to suit the car very well and did not appear to blunt the handling as some heavier diesels do. On the road, it was really quite car-like in its behaviour. Yet it is has some off-road capability for mountain tracks.
There are also benefits from the quattro system when driving on the road. Its grip in the wet is particularly reassuring. If we get a repeat of last year’s heavy snow, then it will be one of the cars that keep moving when others are spinning their wheels.
Audi has maximised the efficiency of all the Q3 engines by fitting stop-start and energy recuperation systems. A new development of the seven-speed S tronic is an efficiency mode which lets the car freewheel when you lift off (shades of the old Saab 96 that I remember) to save more fuel. This is part of an optional drive select adaptive dynamics system.
The result is impressive on the 177PS TDI. You get semi sporting performance with snappy acceleration to 62mph in 8.2 seconds and a potential 132mph top speed. Yet you also have impressive economy at 47.9mpg on the Combined Cycle and emissions of 156g/km.
As we now expect from Audi, this is a beautifully finished machine, inside and out. There is the usual range of ‘technik’ extras to personalize your Q3 with premium wheels, concert sound, satellite navigation and even a parking assistant that takes the steering out of your hands. Lots of standard safety items, too, including stability control.
Yes, the more affordable Q3 is a timely addition to the ever-growing Audi range.
Audi Q3 quattro 2.0 TDI with seven speed S tronic gearbox
ENGINE – 2.0-litre four cylinder turbo diesel developing 177PS
PERFORMANCE – Accelerates to 62mph in 8.2 seconds, 132mph top speed potential
ECONOMY – 47.9mpg on Combined Cycle
EMISSIONS – 156g/km Carbon Dioxide
PRICE – £28,460