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Driven: Audi Q3 35 TFSI. Image by Audi UK.

Driven: Audi Q3 35 TFSI
Audiís Q3 is a more convincing effort second time around, although itís still not the most charismatic machine.


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Audi Q3 35 TFSI S line

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Good points: smart appearance, excellent ride and refinement, cabin now genuinely spacious, big boot, high-quality interior fixtures and fittings

Not so good: inert chassis, lacks for much in the way of character or excitement, can be expensive, 150hp engine not quick

Key Facts

Model tested: Audi Q3 35 TFSI S line S tronic
Price: Q3 range from £30,805; 35 TFSI S line S tronic from £34,150, car as tested £37,565
Engine: 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door crossover-SUV
CO2 emissions: 131g/km (VED Band 131-150: £210 in year one, then £145 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 48.7mpg
Top speed: 128mph
0-62mph: 9.2 seconds
Power: 150hp at 5,000-6,000rpm
Torque: 250Nm at 1,500-3,500rpm
Boot space: 530-1,525 litres

Our view:

Cars are getting bigger; we know this, and have known it for some time. You barely have to mention the increase in automotive proportions through the decades and, before you can say 'fat moderns, innit?', someone will have trotted out that hoary 'the Volkswagen Polo is now bigger than the Golf used to be a few generations ago' chestnut. And as regular cars have inflated, so it has given rise to a trend of customer preference for the bulkier crossovers and SUVs.

But if you want to see a modern car which has grown in size and stature in a much shorter space of time than the VW Polo's near-40-year weight gain, then take a look at Audi's second-generation Q3 - a crossover-SUV, natch. Where the original was quite a dumpy and unusual-looking contrivance that wasn't much larger than a hatchback, this Mk2 is a lot more elegant but also much more towards the SUV side of its character than the crossover. Indeed, it's so big and chunky that you kind of wonder whether you'd need to bother upscaling to a Q5.

Because the Q3 is incredibly capable as a family vehicle. It has a generous 530-litre boot and enough space in the second row of seats to accommodate adults, while it is - as ever, for an Audi - beautifully appointed up front. Our test car was a top-spec S line, so with its attractive and comfortable Sport seats, the pleasing 3D-effect of the dashboard construction and the £250 option of the 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit TFT cluster, it felt upmarket and premium in a way all Audis should; this, despite the fact that the lower levels of the Ingolstadt fleet make do without the three-screen array which debuted in the A8 and which populates most of the top-end Audi models.

While the trim grade may have been top of the Q3 tree, the engine in our test car wasn't. It's the 1.5-litre TFSI motor, sometimes known as the '1.5 Evo' in VW-Group-speak, and it's the one with 150hp, 250Nm and cylinder-on-demand (CoD) shut-off capabilities that allow it to run on two pistons when the engine load is light. It's a perfectly sweet little powerplant and, in a front-wheel drive and S tronic-equipped Q3, it just about gets away with things, although it means the SUV is never particularly pacey. Even pinning the throttle and letting the four-pot mill rev out doesn't elicit sharp acceleration, so you're better off revelling its in sheer mechanical refinement and the unobtrusiveness of CoD. And also the fact you can get more than 40mpg from it on a long motorway run without too much difficulty (or hypermiling tactics).

After nearly 350 miles in the Q3 35 TFSI (no, that does not mean a 3.5-litre engine... sigh...), we grew to like its understated nature quite a lot. The ride quality is excellent, the noise suppression is top-drawer stuff, it handles cleanly and safely, and the weighting of all its major controls is such that it feels as easy to manoeuvre delicately around narrow city streets as it is rock-steady stable when it's pounding along the M1 at 70mph. But you've probably read in between the lines here, inferring a verdict from what hasn't been said: as demonstrably talented and capable as it is, at no point does it have you purring in contentment. It is, as with many other Audis, superb but highly reserved and lacking for much in the way of pizzazz.

Not that this will harm its sales, of course. In fact, the only sales harmed might be those of the Q5, because the Q3 has very quickly grown up to be the sensible family car choice in the entire Audi fleet. It's unquestionably bigger as a Mk2, and - in this case - it's also better, as well.


BMW X2: a bit racier to look at and drive than the Q3, but you sacrifice some boot space and rear passenger comfort in the BMW.

Mercedes GLA: about to be replaced and not before time. Looks just like an A-Class at first glance and is (currently) obliterated by the Audi.

Volvo XC40: the Volvo demonstrates to the Audi that you can have quality and character. Our favourite choice in the compact premium SUV sector.

Matt Robinson - 16 Jan 2019    - Audi road tests
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2019 Audi Q3 35 TFSI S line. Image by Audi UK.2019 Audi Q3 35 TFSI S line. Image by Audi UK.2019 Audi Q3 35 TFSI S line. Image by Audi UK.2019 Audi Q3 35 TFSI S line. Image by Audi UK.2019 Audi Q3 35 TFSI S line. Image by Audi UK.

2019 Audi Q3 35 TFSI S line. Image by Audi UK.2019 Audi Q3 35 TFSI S line. Image by Audi UK.2019 Audi Q3 35 TFSI S line. Image by Audi UK.2019 Audi Q3 35 TFSI S line. Image by Audi UK.2019 Audi Q3 35 TFSI S line. Image by Audi UK.


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