This is Audi’s answer to the compact crossover SUV buying boom and if your disposable income can reach into the premium end of this sector and you are most probably mid-20’s with an active lifestyle then the Q3 is one such vehicle to consider. You might not like the Range Rover Evoque because its expensive, £30k for an entry level Evoque compared to the £25k GBP Audi ask for an entry level Q3. Pricier versions can cost around £45k if you go for the RS Q3.
The entry level comparison still gives you a £5k saving, imagine what you could do with a £5k saving? If you are in your mid-20’s with that successful arc of over-confidence knowing you are brilliant and employed by someone who wants your brilliance then it probably means you will blow that £5k saving on something stupid… Like a health guru or an overpriced health club membership you will never use.
If you are into buying an Audi then why not blow that £5k saving on optional extras and live a little. Like all Audis the trim levels are fairly simple to grasp, three in total, SE, S Line and S Line Plus. However it’s the range of engines and different power grades on offer that will leave you spoiled for choice.
Then there are the optional extras and if you are in your mid-20’s optional extra’s are the equivalent of being in a candy shop which means spend, spend, spend that £5k saving. The Q3 is designed for a market segment whereby if you really are in your mid-20’s then you probably have an active go-getting lifestyle with a 1990’s can do attitude.
That means the Q3 may well be right up your active, go-getting can do everything, power-point lifestyle. Successfully employed people in their mid-20’s also seek style, therefore that rules out buying a BMW 3 Series or equivalent compact crossover SUV.
The exterior design of the Q3 belies its compact size, its well proportioned so that means it looks good from all angles without the need to brag about it. The Q3 first entered production in 2011 and by 2014 received minor exterior styling upgrades such as sharper looking headlight and tail-light clusters. Small details yes but if well considered can breath new life into the old and so it is the case for the Q3.
Go for the S Line model and you get that sporty looking body kit which really gives the Q3 a bit of attitude. So we like the exterior but it’s the interior where you will spend the vast majority of your time, Afterall the only way you can admire the exterior is by sitting on the roof, but the practicalities of doing so while driving are difficult to achieve.
So it’s the interior that is most important component in any vehicle design and as ever Audi don’t disappoint. Primarily it’s superbly well made and with typical faultless Audi build quality. To some the interior my well be a bit subdued functional certainly. But to the mid-20’s, successfully employed crowd subdued means premium end design philosophy a mantra which seems to flow consistently from Audi’s design studio.
Standard levels of kit are excellent, entry-level SE models include DAB, Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors and the 2014 update adds new 17-inch alloys and a few other trinkets. The Adaptive Damper system, full-colour body paintwork, xenon lights and handy features like a retractable luggage cover and sports seats with four-way electric lumbar support come as standard on S-Line variants which actually come fitted with 18-inch alloys.
The 2.0-litre S Line on test came fitted with half leather/alcantara sports seats (£485 optional extra) and a few extra goodies like heated front seats, sports steering wheel with auxiliary controls. The best feature I personally liked was the interior ambient lighting, LED lights surround the lower side speaker on either the side of the front doors and illuminates when driving with the lights on. It looks really cool.
The Q3 comes with a choice of a 4-cylinder diesel and petrol engines both of which are available in two power derivatives. There is also the 1.4-litre TSi unit which our Audi source informed us is the most popular engine of choice for the Q3 in the UK. Entry level models come with front wheel drive only but if you decide to go for the pricier versions then expect to be rewarded with Audi’s Quattro (all-wheel-drive) technology.
The Q3 S Line model on test came fitted with the most powerful 2.0-litre diesel engine derivative. The 4-cylinder unit pumps out 181bhp and 285Nm of torque and can reach 0-62mph in around 7.6 seconds. The 2.0-litre diesel engine is modestly quite at idle and if you decide to up the ante then those 181bhps can be swiftly put to good use. In other words there is plenty of power a successfully employed mid-20’s target market can make do with.
The six speed manual is the biggest draw back, it feels ‘notchy’ to engage each gear, indeed it almost feels like a toy. But if you are that mid-20’s full time employed success story then why not go for the dual clutch transmission, it’s like having a cleaner doing the house work for you and a damn sight less expensive.
Road manners are good to go, the electronic power steering though lacking in feel is consistently light at all speeds and is well suited to the chassis and driving dynamics. The Q3 is no sports vehicle so the perceived lack of dynamism of the steering is really a distraction overall its well weighted and allows you to flow into and out of corners without having to second guess.
Cornering abilities of the Q3 in S Line spec are aided with the standard issue Sports Suspension which firms up the springs and shock absorbers. That said the Q3 in S Line spec is still comfort orientated, certainly the ride is and the handling, though composed, when ultimately called into action body-roll does creep in if you get overly enthusiastic through the corners.
However the chassis feels ridged, secure, therefore safe and rather predictably. Nothing wrong with that because successfully employed mid-20 something’s like predictability after a successful day at the office. If the Sports Line suspension isn’t good enough for you then you can always opt for the electronic damper control package, a four mode system that allows you to control the ride and handling settings via the flick of a switch. But be prepared to fork out an extra £680 GBP.
So what do these mid-20’s success stories do over the weekend? They go for a trendy weekend stay in Devon at an expensive, run down, designer-boutique hotel which costs £5k per night. Obliviously belongings will need to be packed and this is where the compact nature of the Q3 comes into play as being a potential downside… Or does it?
Yes and no is the answer. The Q3 is spacious for all occupants big or small, maybe not for the super obese, but rear bootspace with the seats up means those designer luggage cases might have to be ejected in favor of TK Maxx own brand. With the seats up you might be able to shoe-horn around four good sized bags into the boot space, that’s 420-litres for interested geeks among you. Space increases to 1,325-litres with the seats down meaning your designer dog can tag along as well.
And obviously going to Devon from say London, the minefield of success that is a mid-20’s stomping ground, means a rather long journey. The Q3 is good to cover around 650 miles on a single tank and return around 46 mpg on a combined cycle.
So if you are in the market for a compact SUV the and don’t want a lesser badge parked outside your designer penthouse flat in Kensington or Chelsea then the Audi is like a designer home from home with four wheels. At the end of the day the Q3 is just a car however I am not being biased when I say this but it’s pretty damn good. It’s got everything for active, go-getting, successful mid-20 somethings who have grown out of the ‘Neesan’ Micra.