The Q3 is the smallest car that Audi has given the Q treatment to and it can be considered as a rival for the Range Rover Evoque, BMW 1 Series and Mercedes GLA. Strip it right down and what you're left with is the last generation Audi A3, but it's been given a bit of cosmetic surgery to raise the ride height and give it a more modern look.
From the outside, its key styling features make it recognisable as an Audi. Whether it's the large grille, squinted headlamps or that stylish profile, it definitely has a premium feel to it in this crossover category – and that's reflected, too, when it comes to the interior. Audi is one of the class leaders when it comes to cabin design and the Q3 doesn't disappoint. All versions feature a screen which pops out of the dashboard and displays things like satellite navigation, radio, Bluetooth settings and vehicle setup, and it's controlled through Audi's MMI system, which is a bit like BMW's iDrive. It's pretty straightforward to get to grips with, but unlike larger Audis where the dial is positioned down by the gear box, it's actually up on the centre console.
Basic spec versions come equipped with all the essentials like stop/start technology, alloy wheels, climate and cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity and rear parking sensors. The seating position is raised, which is exactly what you'd expect for a car of this type and there's a full range of adjustment, both on the seat and on the steering wheel, meaning you can get a perfect driving position. This may be the smallest Q, but it's actually more practical than an Evoque; the split folding rear seats fold down to expand the boot from 460 litres to 1,325 litres. However, annoyingly, they don't go completely flat.
As you'd expect from Audi, there's a wide range of petrol and diesel engines on offer, starting with a 148bhp 1.4litre petrol. That features cylinder on demand technology which makes it good for a fuel economy of 47.9mpg and c02 emissions of 136 grams per kilometre. But if you prefer diesel there's a 2 litre TDI, which also has 148bhp. There's also a more powerful 182bhp diesel with the same unit, which offers a sub 8 second 0-60 time and an average fuel economy of over 50mpg.
Despite its tall body, the Q3 delivers a solid ride and isn't so roly-poly in the corners. It feels very car like in its driving manners; the handling is also excellent for a car of this type. The only downside is when cruising at lower speeds the handling becomes a little more fidgety, and you get more cabin intrusion over potholes and speed bumps.
March 18, 2016